DCG's Drew Clausen makes the collegiate jump in athletic career
The athletic scene may be focused on the mats for the high school wrestling season, but there's still conversation to be had on the gridiron. One such conversation includes a big step taken by DCG's Drew Clausen with his commitment to the University of Northern Iowa football team.
"It's pretty surreal," began Clausen. "It's nothing what you'd think it'd be like and I'm ready to put even more into it at the next level."
Clausen, a senior at Dallas Center-Grimes, was in contact with 15 different schools across his recruiting process. In the end, the love of his home state pushed through and now he'll be trading in the red and white for the purple and gold.
"Playing in the back yard growing up, it was always a dream to play D1 in the state of Iowa," said Clausen. "I've taken a lot of pride in going to play D1 within the state and when UNI reached out to me it just felt right. I had other offers on the table but it came down to the right fit and somewhere I could grow both on and off the football field."
When Clausen reaches the collegiate scene, he'll be doing so in a specialist role of sorts. He will be joining up with UNI football as a long-snapper. It's something Clausen has worked tirelessly on the last few years and did so in a position that has become known for silently winning or losing games.
"I actually started technically in seventh grade and when I started I didn't know any technique but my brother did it in high school," began Clausen. "Sophomore year in high school I realized that it was something you could get really good at and the impact it had on a team. I ended up going to several camps, worked a lot on technique with coach Hutzel, and realized that it can take me so much farther than I thought as long as I grinded it out and worked at it."
It's been a position that yearly has proven critical and it sure did in 2020. Highlighting that was the battle between DCG and ADM. In a low scoring affair, the contest ended up coming down to a last minute field goal for the eventual victory, something Clausen had direct interaction with.
"There's a lot of pressure situations that can present itself and against ADM, we had a game winning field goal to think about," said Clausen. "You always have to focus on your technique and that you're snapping a good ball every time."
Clausen, just like the rest of the DCG football team members, has always strived for perfection and that push was driven to the max after just one mistake made.
"I remember it perfectly, it was my second snap against Pella and I overthought it and snapped it over our punter's head and it set Pella up for a score later," said Clausen. "After that I set a goal to not have another bad snap the rest of my high school career."
That goal was met with perfection as Clausen never suffered another mistake with a lot of work put in and help from his coaches. Such coaches that have made a big impact in his football life, which at one point was in jeopardy of not happening at all.
"My sophomore year I was thinking about leaving football and just specializing in wrestling," began Clausen. "Coach Heitland sat me down and talked to me about even though I didn't see the field much as a sophomore, that if I stuck it out it'd be more beneficial than I thought. I continued to go out and he was 100 percent right, it was very beneficial."
Clausen continued that conversation talking about coach Hutzel.
"Coach Hutzel worked with me so much and even though many people know him as that crazy (good) defensive mind, but you'd have no idea how much that guy knows about long-snapping, it's unfathomable," continued Clausen. "Going into my junior year he pushed me to be better knowing that I could do more. He knows so much technique and how to play the position the right way."
Clausen will transition to the collegiate level, led by head coach Mark Farley. Farley will enter the 2021 season in his 21st as the Panthers head coach with 159 wins, the most in the Missouri Valley Conference history.
"I see a lot of resemblance between the DCG and UNI coaching staffs," said Clausen. "The team is run similarly to DCG and that's the type of program I want to be in for the next four-to-five years."
While Clausen celebrates his future now, he'll be focused back on the wrestling mats going forward as he rounds out his high school tenure at DCG.
"Being an athlete at DCG has been so amazing, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else," said Clausen. "I'm grateful for my time as a Mustang and can't wait to begin my time as a Panther."