#21 Derek Blessing | Corner back
Hometown: Ogallala, Neb.
Previous School: Ogallala
Major: Secondary education - Biology and Chemistry
2013 First Team All-GPAC kick/punt returner
2013 Honorable Mention All-GPAC defensive back
2013 Omaha World-Herald All-Nebraska (KR)
2013 GPAC Defensive Player of the Week - Oct. 14
2012 First Team All-GPAC punt returner
2012 Honorable Mention All-GPAC kick returner
2012 Beyond Sports Network First Team All-America punt returner
2012 GPAC Special Teams Player of the Week - Sept. 24, Oct. 15
Blessing again ranked as one of the nation's top returners, putting up 687 combined return yards on the way to all-conference recognition ... as a defensive back, had 37 tackles, two interceptions, six pass break ups, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery ... returned a kickoff 85 yards in the win at Dakota State on 9-28-13 ... picked off two passes in the win over Nebraska Wesleyan on 10-12-13 ... made a season high eight tackles vs. Morningside on 11-2-13 ... ranked seventh in the NAIA in punt return yards (276), 12th in punt return yards per attempt (12.5) and 36th in kickoff return yards (403) ... ended his career with 2,232 all-purpose yards, 120 tackles and four interceptions over four seasons.
Blessing starred as one of the nation's top punt returners in 2012 as he led all NAIA players with 388 punt return yards and three punt return touchdowns while finishing second with an average of 18.5 yards per punt return...ranked 14th nationally in yards per kick return (25.4) and 20th in total kick return yards (507)...after playing running back in 2011, Blessing converted to corner where he started all 11 games and led the team in tackles (75), pass break ups (6) and forced fumbles (3)...intercepted two passes...punt return touchdowns covered 71 (vs. Benedictine on 8-25-2012), 56 (vs. Dordt on 9-22-12) and 50 yards (vs. Northwestern on 10-13-12)...recorded a career best 10 tackles in a win over Dakota State (S.D.) on 9-29-12.
Played in all 11 games during his sophomore season...finished third on the team with 335 rushing yards on 71 attempts...averaged 4.7 yards per carry and 30.5 rushing yards per game...scored two rushing touchdowns on the year, including a 97-yard touchdown against Dordt College on 9-24-11...finished with a career-high 111 yards on just five carries in the win over Dordt on 9-24-11...also had a rushing touchdown in Concordia's win over Dakota State University on 10-1-11...caught 19 passes for 105 yards on the year...caught three passes at Dakota Wesleyan on 9-10-11 and at Dordt on 9-24-11.
Prepped at Ogallala high school for four years ... Senior year had fifteen touchdowns and fifteen interceptions .. Earned All-State first team honors along with All-Conference honors ... Earned three varsity letters ... In basketball Derek earned three varsity letters ... While participating in track he earned four varsity letters, qualified for the state meet twice, and was district champion in the 110m high hurdles ... Participated in band, one acts, fall play, and speech ... He was on the student council, National Honor Society, and Spanish Honor Society.
Son of Randy and Julie Blessing.