DCG's Blake Willey commits to the collegiate level for football and track
Dallas Center-Grimes senior Blake Willey recently paved a collegiate athletic path for himself as he committed to Grand View University for both football and track. The decision came following another strong season on the gridiron.
"I'm just extremely grateful to be given the opportunity," began Willey. "I've always wanted to play at the next level and just being given the chance to continue on at the next level is really exciting."
Willey joins fellow gridiron Mustang Drew Clausen who recently committed to the University of Northern Iowa. Willey's announcement also comes after ADM quarterback Tate Stine-Smith made his commitment to Grand View University.
Like many other athletes, COVID-19 put quite a spin on the whole recruiting process.
"COVID-19 impacted a lot as we had one of our games cut and we only got seven games as a whole and it was just a completely different season," Willey said. "Going to camps and visits, you had to go through a different set of rules and didn't get to do as much. Even with that, I'm still just grateful that we were able to have a season."
Following his final year on the DCG football field, Willey will be bound for Duke Williams Stadium in Des Moines. Willey has made himself into a perfect fit across all his activities while at DCG and that perfect fit now applies to Grand View University.
"I really enjoyed the coaches and the atmosphere of the team," said Willey. "After talking with the coaches about how they put together their defense, it seems like a scheme I'll fit into well. Plus it's close to home and I know a lot of guys who will be going there, guys I've been competing against my whole life and it'll be exciting to team up with them at the next level."
The decision to pursue Grand View football beat out several other options for Willey including Central College, Wayne State University, Northwestern College and Buena Vista University.
When Willey finally does make the official jump to Grand View, the transition won't seem to be difficult at all. Willey will be leaving a successful DCG football program with winning seasons seven out of the last eight years, including back-to-back playoff appearances the last two seasons. Now, his gridiron futures includes joining up with a Vikings squad that has made seven consecutive NAIA championship tournament appearances, including winning it all back in 2013.
"I love how they have things going on defensively and it will be a fun atmosphere," Willey said of the transition. "The coaching staff at DCG has been great and going to Grand View it's going to be just as great."
No matter what, making it to the collegiate football level means guys are battle-tested. Willey fits that mold as well, having gone through ups and downs. He was part of the resurgence that boosted DCG football from a one-win team back in 2018 to two consecutive state playoff appearances.
"My sophomore season was when we had that rough year, that was my brother's senior season and they had 11 seniors and at the end of the year there were only seven in the starting rotation," began Willey. "It was hard but I felt we as a team grew as a lot of us younger guys got a chance at varsity time. I think that has really helped us grow over the last two years and helped us prepare the younger guys in case they have to go through something like that."
While success on the field during the season has always been a focus for Willey, that hasn't been the entire picture in his pursuit to be the best he can be both as a player and teammate.
"I've really enjoyed working with the guys in the offseason and coming together," Willey said. "I've always wanted to leave things in a better place than when I came and leave it in a way with a lasting impact and will be looked down on as a good place to be."
From the mental to the physical, Willey has excelled in nearly every aspect. Such has led him to accumulate 187.5 total tackles across three varsity seasons. That has included 21 tackles for loss along with three interceptions, four sacks and one fumble recovery. It has also come with spots on the first and second-team All-State lists by the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association as well as All-District honors each of the past two seasons.
"Blake is a great competitor and he never gives anything less than 100 percent every practice and every game," said DCG head football coach Scott Heitland earlier this season. "He's a great locker room guy and everything you want in a senior player."
For now, Willey will wait to start his collegiate football career while gearing up for the upcoming track and field season.
"I'm excited to play for Grand View for sure but right now I'm excited about just enjoying my senior year and the upcoming track season," said Willey. "I've been blessed with the opportunity to take on track and field as well at Grand View and I want to continue to improve there as well."
Blake will be the first of his family to play collegiate football. Along with athletics, Willey's goal is to pursue a career in chiropractics.