The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

January 21, 2014

West FB players find colleges that are right fit

Weber to MSU, Russell to Augustana, Claussen to Winona State

For Isaac Weber, things felt right when he visited Minnesota State last weekend. Jake Russell had the same feeling at Augustana.

Will Claussen knew last fall that he wanted to attend Winona State.

“It’s hard to explain,” Russell said. “It just felt right for me.”

The Mankato West seniors have made commitments to continue their football careers in college, with all three having chosen programs that are members of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference’s South Division.

“There’s always adjustments going from high school to college,” West coach Mark Esch said. “But all three have the skills to make that adjustment.”

Weber, a 5-foot-10, 205-pound middle linebacker, was the two-time Big Nine Conference defensive player of the year and an all-state selection. He led the Scarlets with 128 tackles, his second straight season of more than 100, and 10.5 sacks.

“I loved the (Minnesota State) coaching staff, and it’s a great program,” Weber said. “Ultimately, I felt like I belonged there. I’m a family person, and I like being close to family.”

The knock on Weber wasn’t production, rather his height. At 5-10, he could have trouble seeing over and around the larger linemen, but he’s not concerned about that.

“It’s just another challenge and something I need to overcome,” he said. “It’s not like I can change it.”

Weber also received offers from St. Cloud State and Augustana.

“I know he’s excited about joining a program with a winning culture,” Esch said. “Winning was important to him. I love it when my guys stay in town so I can get to watch them.”

Russell is a three-year starter in the West offensive line, with the last two seasons at center. He also played some in the defensive line this season, ending up with 29 tackles and one sack, but center is his position.

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