Posted: Jan 8, 2013 11:31 AM
JEFFERSON CITY -- Lincoln senior defensive back O'Hara Fluellen, an All-MIAA first team selection after leading the Blue Tiger football team in tackles, will play in the Casino Del Sol All-Star game on Friday. The game, which will be played in Tucson, Ariz. at Kino Stadium, will be broadcast nationally on the ESPN family of networks and will kickoff at 8:00 p.m. CST.
This will be the second year for the Casino Del Sol College All-Star game, a postseason exhibition contest between draft eligible seniors. The game will serve as a platform for Fluellen and the 63 other committed participants to perform in front of scouts from the National Football League, Canadian Football League and Arena Football League.
Last year's inaugural Casino Del Sol game featured six players drafted into the NFL, including Gino Gradkowski (#98 overall to the Baltimore Ravens), Aaron Brown (drafted by the St. Louis Rams) and Jerome Long (drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs). Additionally, 61 other players who participated in the 2012 all-star game were invited to NFL training camps last July.
Fluellen will be one of five players from NCAA Division II programs playing in Friday's game, and joins Travis Chappelear of Northwest MIssouri as the only players from the MIAA. Fluellen will have the opportunity to showecase his skills mainly against players from NCAA Division I programs, including players from schools such as Kansas State, Michigan State, Stanford and Arizona, among many others.
A Daktronics Super Region 3 All-Region second team honoree, Fluellen led Lincoln with 67 total tackles and 55 solo takedowns this season and made four tackles that led to a loss of 12 yards. His biggest impact was as a pass defender, as he finished second in the conference in passes defended with four interceptions combined with an MIAA-best 11 broken-up passes. His four picks were the fourth-most by any player in the league in 2012. One of the leaders of the defense this season, Fluellen was also credited with Lincoln's sole safety of the season, making a tackle in the end zone against Washburn on Oct. 6. He also blocked two kicks.
Besides being one of the best defensive backs in the MIAA, Fluellen made an impact on all three phases of football this year. Fluellen racked up 516 yards on 24 kick returns this season, finishing second in the league with a 21.5 yards-per-return average to earn an honorable mention from the conference at that position. In Lincoln's win over Nebraska-Kearney on Oct. 13, Fluellen also played on offense, catching a 97-yard touchdown pass on his first-ever snap as a receiver. That reception was both the longest in the MIAA this season and the longest in Lincoln history, breaking the previous mark of 96 set in 1974.
One of the best pass defenders in Lincoln history, Fluellen registered his 21st interception of his career this season, placing him second behind Bruce Johnson's mark of 22 picks. Fluellen's stats also stacked up well against the other cornerbacks who were up for the Daktronics award, as his 67 tackles led all nominees and his 11 pass break-ups ranked second. His four tackles-for-loss were also the most among the other CBs up for the honor while his four interceptions tied for second.
The 2013 Casino Del Sol All-Star Game can be watched live on ESPN3.com.