St. Thomas junior receiver-kick returner Vinny Pallini on Tuesday was named MIAC Football's Special Teams Player of the Week. It was the second such weekly award for Pallini so far during his Tommie career.
In Saturday's 76-7 home season-opening victory over NAIA's Trinity International, St. Thomas lost the coin toss, the opponent deferred, and the Tommies' chose to receive.
Pallini promptly returned the opening kickoff 94 yards for touchdown. The 5-9 starting wide receiver from Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay, Wis., who was a standout kicker in high school, then booted the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
Thus, Pallini scored points on the first and second plays of the season -- a rare feat in NCAA football. He finished the game making 4-of-5 PAT kicks.
Pallini has helped the No. 3-ranked Tommies win 24 of 27 games so far in his era with three return touchdowns, three receiving TDs, 47 catches, and 1,278 return/receiving yards. As a freshman in 2016 he had a 96-yard kickoff return to the end zone against St. Olaf and kicked that subsequent PAT, too. He is 7-of-8 in career PAT kicks, and also has a 21-yard field goal.
Pallini is the first St. Thomas player to return a kickoff for a touchdown on the game's first play since Fritz Waldvogel did it in 2009, also at home at Palmer Field in O'Shaughnessy Stadium.