Fanti leaves a legacy


Jason Howell

Dino Fanti, once a defensive tackle for the Panthers graduated in December 2015. He was named for a slew of athletic award, including FCS Defensive Tackle of the Year

Maria Baldwin, Assistant Sports Editor

Although Dino Fanti may have graduated in December, he left shoes to fill for the Eastern Illinois defensive line.

Fanti racked up his accolades in his final season with Eastern, achieving honors such as Ohio Valley Conference defensive player of the week two times, STATS National Defensive player, Co-Defensive player of the year for the OVC, STATS 2nd team All-American, AP 3rd team All-American, AFCA All-American, and CFPA FCS defensive tackle of the year. Fanti has the Eastern Illinois record for career tackles for a loss with 55 that he achieved in the game against Murray State, and the record for single-season tackles for a loss with 22. He was also one of the captains of the team.

With all these accolades there was motivation, but Fanti only had two goals. One was to get the record for tackles for a loss, and the second was to make the playoffs with his team.

‘’Honestly, I didn’t think any of that was possible,’’ Fanti said. ‘’I’m just happy I made it through the season happy and healthy.’’

Perhaps the most notable honor Fanti received was being named the FCS CFPA defensive tackle of the year. Fanti becomes the third Panther to receive this honor behind Jimmy Garoppolo who was named the 2013 quarterback of the year, and Erik Lora, who was named the wide receiver of the year in 2013.

In his final season with Eastern, Fanti racked up 63 total tackles including 22 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, nine quarterback hurries, one pass break-up, and one fumble recovery. Fanti ranked eighth in the FCS in tackles for loss.

Despite the honors and his successes, Fanti said that his last season was just like any other season.

‘’It wasn’t any different than any other year.’’ Fanti said. ‘’There are so many people who contribute to your success. My defensive coaches, my strength and conditioning coaches all made a huge impact.’’

Fanti’s strength coach Jordan Davis said he was an extremely passionate person, very hard working, is always looking to get better and most importantly is a great leader.

While Fanti was known to be a force by his defensive teammates, senior quarterback Jalen Whitlow knew he was a fighter.

“It was cool. I knew he was going to put his best out there on the defensive side and his awards speak for themselves,” Whitlow said. “I knew that when we went to battle he would fight until the end.”

Fanti was a versatile athlete, having played defensive end his entire career before switching to defensive tackle for his senior year.

Fanti took the change in stride and coasted through, setting records along the way.

As for now, Fanti is enjoying the life of an Eastern alumnus in his hometown of Venice, Florida with a job as a manager in training.

Maria Baldwin can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]