Thanks to never-ending motor, Aurora graduate Dylan Marder excelled at Heidelberg

Heidelberg inside linebacker Dylan Marder intercepts a pass against Mount Union in 2018. The 2016 Aurora graduate finished with 27 tackles for the Student Princes last fall.

He’s listed at 5 feet, 9 inches tall.

Don’t be fooled by Dylan Marder’s modest measurements, though.

The 2016 Aurora graduate was the human version of a hand grenade.

Actually, a more accurate description for this former linebacker/safety might be even more harrowing.

Kamikaze pilot.

“He has no regard for human life in terms of the way he plays,” Heidelberg University defensive coordinator Branden Jakubcin said.

When it comes to this wonderfully reckless 195-pound terror, playing football required a simple but often barbaric approach.

Destroy or be destroyed.

Nowadays, Marder will eagerly tackle the next chapter of his life. Without the violence, of course.

The 22-year-old former Greenman standout concluded a stellar football career at Heidelberg, a private university in Tiffin, last fall.

Marder, who is majoring in sports management with a business concentration, plans to complete his degree later in the year. Although it will be his first fall season without football in quite some time, Marder will cherish his time in Tiffin for the rest of his life.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “I met a bunch of people with different backgrounds. I really bonded with these guys. The 16 seniors were close. We hung out all the time.”

Marder’s fearless personality led to a successful career with the Student Princes, who finished 6-4 overall and 5-4 in the Ohio Athletic Conference last fall. He finished with 27 total tackles, 1.5 sacks and one fumble recovery. Marder had a season-high five tackles in a 34-33 loss to Baldwin Wallace.

Marder, who finished with 37 tackles and an interception as a junior, was a man without a position during the first two years of his career.

Without a specific position, at least.

“We didn’t know where he was going to fit defensively,” Jakubcin said. “He couldn’t really crack the lineup. He was really good on special teams.”

Jakubcin decided to shake things up when Marder was a junior. As a result, Marder moved from safety to linebacker.

He didn’t look back the rest of the way.

“There was a question mark with him,” Jakubcin said. “Is he a linebacker or a safety? His body type was more of a safety. We changed our identity during his junior year and he became one of our inside linebackers.”

It was a bit of a learning curve for Marder. However, once he figured out the intricacies of his new position, Marder regained his status as a formidable wrecking ball.

“I felt more comfortable in the box instead of worrying about pass coverage,” Marder said. “In high school, I always read the run. I learned to go back into coverage instead of always reading the run.”

Marder’s bold approach to playing his favorite sport had its share of painful moments. He had knee surgery during his freshman year and he also suffered a broken hand when he was a sophomore.

“It was frustrating,” Marder said of his injuries. “I felt like I was way better when it came to staying healthy during my junior year. I lifted more and that allowed me to take the hits.”

Jakubcin knew he had a gem when he first laid his eyes on Marder. And when his explosive pupil eventually proved he could play a much larger role on the field, no one was happier than his former mentor.

“It allowed him to be the type of person he is,” Jakubcin said. “He’s a football player. When I call someone a football player, that’s the highest honor you can get on the field. In my eyes, he played football the right way — with reckless abandon.

“He’s a missile. He runs from point A to point B and if you’re in his way, he’ll run through you.”

Jakubcin, who also was a sprinter for Aurora’s track and field team, still feels a bit uncomfortable talking about the gridiron in the past tense.

For so many years, football was his passion. And it’s not easy to say goodbye to a sport he loved so dearly.

At the same time, though, Marder is fortunate to be in one piece. When you played the way Marder did, the term car crash didn’t do him justice when he attempted to clobber his opponent.

It was more like a vicious head-on collision.

“I’m going to miss the game,” Marder said. “Obviously, waking up in the morning wasn’t the best, but I’ll miss playing with my friends and making memories. We pushed each other.”

Marder may not say goodbye to just football after he completes his schoolwork. Although he has lived in the area throughout his life, Marder has grown quite weary of snowflakes, cloudy skies and never-ending freezing temperatures.

Forgive Marden for being brutally honest: The Buckeye State has run its course for the palm-tree seeking Northeast Ohio native.

“Hopefully, I can go somewhere warm,” Marder said. “I would like to get out of Ohio. As much as I love Ohio, the weather is frustrating.”

Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, or @Faceto_Gannett.