Welcome to #TIGERTALK – a SweetwaterNOW exclusive series where Rock Springs High School Tigers inspire our community by telling their stories in their own words.
I’ve been playing football for so long I never really thought that I would get the chance to play in college. If anyone had told me I would have multiple offers from schools all across the nation when I was in junior high or little league, I wouldn’t have believed it.
I told myself that I wanted to play college football back in seventh grade. I love football so much. It’s been a part of my life for so long.
I started playing football when I was seven in Western Colorado. I was born in Grand Junction and moved to Rock Springs at the end of my fourth grade school year. When I moved to Rock Springs I didn’t know anyone and it was a little hard to fit in. I attended Holy Spirit Catholic School down the road from high school because I had been enrolled in private school in Colorado and it was just kinda part of me. I started meeting other kids in town through football in fifth grade.
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I played in the Young American Football League (YAFL) for the Giants, and we did really well. In the first playoff game, I broke my arm right before the half and we lost the game. I was picked for our local All-Star team in fifth grade, but couldn’t play with a broken arm. In sixth grade we did really well again, and I was picked for the All-Star team and we went undefeated. I was selected as one of our Outstanding Defensive Players. I got to play football at War Memorial at the University of Wyoming! Being on a college field really got me thinking about playing college football.
Everything was going smooth in junior high. I was playing quarterback in seventh grade and I always loved playing quarterback! In eighth grade I ended up fracturing my back at the beginning of the season. I kept trying to play even though it was almost impossible to run and move like a quarterback should. I ended up calling it quits for that season and supported my teammates.
A Temporary Setback
As high school approached, I was ready to try something new. I earned a starting spot as one of the running backs under Coach Hastings. In my first game as a freshmen, we went to Riverton. The game started off great! We scored on our first drive and shut them down on their first offensive drive. But on our second offensive drive is where everything went wrong. I got the ball, and as I hit the six hole and made it five or ten yards down field, I planted on my left leg and their safety fell right into my leg.
There went my knee. My ACL was gone, both meniscus were torn, and a partial MCL tear, all in one shot. My freshman season was over and I was devastated. When you hear about ACL tears or knee reconstructions it always seems like when a pro player or even a college guy has one done and they don’t come back the same.
I was blessed to have an amazing surgeon and physical therapist. Dr. Levine at Premier Bone and Joint and Connor Zumphy at Alliance Physical Therapy. They both did a great job with me. I don’t know where I would be without either of these great guys.
My sophomore season was a real battle. It was really tough to get myself back to where I was, before I had gotten hurt. I played real timid to start, guarding my knee, even though I knew in my head not to. It was such a mental battle. Coach Lenhardt had been hired earlier, and he really helped me work through it. I played in both freshman and junior varsity games weekly, to help rehab and get more experience that I missed during my freshman season. I played six or more quarters of football every week.
Rolling into my junior year, I was thrown into a tough situation. Our senior fullback had quit and I was the next guy up. It was a tough season for all of us. It was my second year under Lenhardt, playing at the varsity level against bigger, faster, and stronger guys. We only had a few seniors, and it was a challenge! I had been playing linebacker since little league, and half way through my junior year we needed some help at defensive end, and I got the job.
The coaches were right on the money. I was built for that spot on the field.
We did pretty good for a young team with new coaches, and the whole town was talking about our upcoming senior year. I was playing with a team full of legit talent, and our coaching was great! A bunch of our guys started getting picked as All-Conference and All-State players and things were really changing. I ended up being picked as an honorable mention at defensive end, even though I only played it for half the year.
Senior year was here, and we knew the summer before the season started it was going to be great. Everyone on the team from the managers to all the players put so much work in during the offseason to get ready.
We had an incredible season. So much had changed. Winning is contagious and we had about 20 seniors out! We all had been playing football together for so long, we finally put it together. We went 10-2 and went to the state game for the first time in 19 years. We averaged about 40 points a game and that was something to be proud of. Our Defense was DOMINANT! Everyone in Rock Springs was coming to games, the town was crazy, and they were all so proud of us for making it to state!
After I was switched to defensive end, I made it a goal to make All-Conference and All-State. I spent the whole summer working my butt off, knowing I would have to have a heck of a year to reach that goal. I made it, and was selected as first team All-Conference and All-State! We had a pile of guys picked for those honors, and many more were coming.
I can’t believe how good our team was, and how much talent was there. Any guy on that team could play college ball.
My recruiting journey has been really long. I had some coaches talking to me as a junior, and my dad and I started trying to figure it all out. I started getting offers in December, after the football season had concluded.
My first official offer was from Sterling College in Sterling, Kansas. Then after that the offers started to roll in slowly one by one. My second offer was from Presentation College in Aberdeen, South Dakota, third was from Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska, fourth was Greenville University in Greenville, Illinois, fifth was an offer was from Dakota Wesleyan, and they offered me again a week after the first one. Dakota School of Mines offered me after that, as well as Carroll College in Montana!
I’ve had about 20 schools from D2, D3 and NAIA really want me to come play, and most were ready to offer me some sort of scholarship, and a couple wanted me to come play football and lacrosse.
This whole process has been an eye opening experience for my parents and I. We’ve put together a few spreadsheets, a list of pros and cons, and did anything we could to make this decision as easy as possible. My parents have done so much for me throughout my journey to decide on where I want to go and what I want to do for a career after I complete college.
I am so grateful for them and everything that they do. They made it clear it was my decision, and that they would support whatever path I took in life. College or no college, football or no football. I’m hoping what we learned will help my brother and sister when it’s their turn.
My dad and I set up a road trip to visit some schools during the season, and then after I started getting offers, decided to go visit a bunch of these other schools. We put on about 2500 miles and a flight to St. Louis to spend time at each of these schools. I really liked it, and I got to see how different each campus and program was. It was really stressful as each of these schools had different ideas for me as a player, different degree options, and every place was unique.
After our two weeks of visits, I sat down with my folks and went over the spreadsheet I had been keeping, and really started trying to decide. A few of the schools didn’t have what I wanted degree wise, and those were off the list. A couple had offered me, but didn’t really seem like I was important to them, so they were gone.
I had it down to three schools, and had to think about it a bunch. Once I made my decision, my stress level went way down. The only thing left was to call all these awesome coaches and let them down. I hate letting people down. I would do anything for my team and coaches, friends or family, and these coaches had put a lot of time in with me already.
I then called Coach Franzen at Hastings College in Nebraska and told him I wanted to be a Bronco. He is awesome. He reminds me of Coach Lenhardt. No BS, no fluff, let’s just work.
The Broncos are a team with a new coach, trying to get better, with a bunch of young talent. Kind of like RSHS.
I want that again, to have that challenge and help a team win.