BLUE EARTH - The proverbial weight has finally been lifted off of Blue Earth Area senior lineman Jonah Pirsig's broad shoulders.
After months of weighing numerous Division I offers, the 6-foot-9, 300-pound Pirsig made a verbal commitment on Saturday morning to play football for the University of Minnesota next fall.
The highly-recruited Division I prospect fittingly made his official decision at his future home gridiron - TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
STAYING IN STATE — Blue Earth Area senior lineman Jonah Pirsig works out in his high school’s weight room while being spotted by Dalton Hurn. Pirsig made a verbal commitment on Saturday to play football at the University of Minnesota next season. Pirsig is the area’s first Division I gridiron recruit in six years. (Photo by Associated Press)
"We left Blue Earth at 7 Saturday morning, and arrived at TCF around 10. I walked to the 50-yard line with my family and met with (first-year Gophers head) coach (Jerry) Kill and (offensive coordinator Matt) Limegrover," said Pirsig. "They had been called to the field by University of Minnesota president (Eric) Kaler and had no idea of why they were there.
"Coach Kill looked at me and said, 'This is either going to be good or bad news.'"
By the wide smile on Kill's face following Pirsig's announcement, the news was ... well, good.
Unfortunately, due to NCAA rules, Kill cannot comment on Pirsig's decision until after the Blue Earth Area prep standout signs a national letter of intent in February.
While the news turned out to be a pleasant surprise to the two Gopher football coaches, Pirsig knew in his heart for a while that he would take his blocking skills to the University of Minnesota next season.
"After my family and I went to the Gophers' spring game in April, I knew that's where I wanted to go," said Pirsig. "The university is everything I wanted in a school (academically) and in a football program, and the coaching staff there is great."
Pirsig plans to major in exercise science, and hopes to use his future degree to find a career in the medical field.
But, for right now, Pirsig is focused on the upcoming prep football season, which kicks off for Blue Earth Area on Friday, Sept. 2, against non-league opponent United South Central in Wells.
"I'm glad it's over. Now I can give 100 percent to playing high school football this fall," Pirsig said.
While the Blue Earth Area lineman has taken the first step toward becoming a collegiate athlete, Division I recruiters will likely still be calling, texting and e-mailing him in the upcoming months.
"Coach (Randy) Kuechenmeister told me to stay strong in my decision and to keep my word to the University of Minnesota," Pirsig said in reference to his prep football mentor's advice.
"He's a great kid and a quality football player," said Kuechenmeister. "When he's done playing for coach Kill at Minnesota down the road, he will be an even better person than he already is due to the entire experience and that's saying something."