Wetzel signs with Marian University football

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Heritage Hills senior Jacob Wetzel (center) signed his letter of intent Tuesday to continue his football career at Marian University. Looking on is father Scott (left) and mother Karen (right). Back row: Heritage Hills coach Tood Wilkerson.


LINCOLN CITY — Jacob Wetzel and Marian University will be looking to get over the hump together in 2020.

Wetzel played an integral role in Heritage Hills going undefeated in the regular season his junior and senior years, and helped the Patriots finish as the Class 3A state runner-up in the latter season. The Knights, like the Pats, were undefeated until they lost the 2019 NAIA national championship game, 40-38, against Morningside College (Iowa).

The two parties officially joined together Tuesday afternoon when Wetzel signed his letter of intent to continue his playing career with the Knights.

“I’m definitely hungry,” Wetzel said. “I know they want to win a championship and I know I want to win a championship, and I think combining all of that together is going to be an exciting season for the first season but also for the next three years after that first season.”

Marian has seen a lot of success within the last 10 years. The Knights won national championships in 2012 and 2015. They also earned a national runner-up finish in 2014 in addition to last year.

Wetzel signed to play H-Back in college, which is the combination of fullback and tight end. He talked about needing to learn Marian’s technique on how to block, but thinks he’ll catch on easily. Wetzel was one of Heritage Hills’ most prolific tacklers during his upperclassman years, and helped block the field goal Nov. 1 against Gibson Southern to advance to the sectional championship. Not being able to go both ways is an adjustment Wetzel will have to deal in the beginning.

“It’s going to really feel weird not being on the field at all times,” he said. “Here, as soon as I stepped on the field, I was there for the whole entire game. So, going somewhere and being able to exert of all your energy into one position and keep your legs fresh, I think that’s going to be an awesome feeling, but it’ll be awkward at first, something that I’ll have to get used to.”

He knows he’ll have to work hard to earn his spot. He knows there are people who are older and more mature than he is, but intends to compensate for that with how hard he’ll work. Wetzel plans to separate himself from the others not only with the quality of his body of work, but also the quantity.

“He’s going to work very hard,” Heritage Hills coach Todd Wilkerson said. “There’s no doubt about that. He has been a very motivated young man. You could see by his body that he works very hard in the weight room and physically to get himself ready.”

Wetzel discussed the recruiting process as being tough for him. There’s that worry creeping in about not getting an offer to play, or how much scholarship money he could get. He had to be comfortable with his choice, that it was the best fit for him and knowing it will be his home for the next four years. Wetzel received other offers as well. Indiana State University looked at him, but only as a walk on. Greenville University (Ill.) and Manchester University also showed interest, but Marian checked off his boxes.

He liked their coaching staff when he visited and the ball got rolling when assistant coach Micah Brown first texted him around last fall. Contact picked up again as Marian’s season was winding down. Wetzel contacted Brown, who in turn asked him for film. Talks began, and the rest is history.

“It makes us feel great that a team that played for the national championship this year is coming in and very happy to recruit one of our players,” Wilkerson said. “I think they look for kids with the championship mindset and obviously Jacob helping us get to the state championship game this year helped show other teams that he’s got that.”

Wetzel intends to major in political science and minor in criminology. He plans on getting himself physically ready and mentally ready for when he joins the team.

“At the college level, everybody’s strong, everybody’s good,” Wetzel said. “You have to be ready for that.”

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