The Marshall High School football program will continue its trend of pumping out collegiate linemen, as two Tigers recently gave verbal commitments to accept scholarship offers from a couple of Division II schools.
Following in the footsteps of Tyler Gimmestad, an offensive lineman for back-to-back Football Championship Subdivision champion North Dakota State, as well as Marshall grads Luke Klein and Nathan Werner, Tiger seniors Alex Werner and Austin Nath are the most recent linemen who have decided to try their hand at making an impact at the collegiate level. Alex Werner has chosen to play alongside brother Nathan at Southwest Minnesota State, while Nath will also compete in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference at Northern State in Aberdeen, S.D.
Nath will play on the offensive line for NSU, where Klein, a 2010 Marshall graduate also played before an ankle injury ended his career. The 2012 Southwest Conference Offensive Lineman of the year, Nath said the final three schools he narrowed his list down to were SMSU, NSU and Division I-FCS school South Dakota, where he was offered preferred walk-on status.
In the end, he said the decision wasn't very hard.
"Really, it all came down to the scholarship they gave me," Nath said of NSU. "I really liked the coaches, the players and everything about them. It was like a no-brainer to me, so I picked them."
A team that's struggled in its time in the NSIC, the Wolves put together a 6-5 season in 2012. Nath, a 6-foot-2, 280-pound player who started all four years for the Tigers, hopes to use his strength and skill to continue the program's resurgence.
Werner said his decision was between Northern State and SMSU, but he couldn't pass up the chance to play four to five more years at Mattke Field, where both the Tigers and Mustangs play their home games, or the opportunity to stay at home and play with his brother. The Mustang coaches also said he could play defensive end, his preferred position.
At 6-6 and with good speed, Werner said he realized as a sophomore he had some of the physical tools to play collegiately. He added muscle and weight, and as a 230-pound senior he led the Tigers with eight sacks as a linebacker and was an All-Southwest Conference selection. The 2012 season was his first year playing both ways after manning the offensive line as a junior.
He said his biggest strengths will be his height, his reach and his speed, but Werner knows he still has work to do if he wants to see the field for the Mustangs.
"I feel that I need to continue to work on explosiveness and getting off the ball because high school football is one thing, but college football is a whole different thing," he said. "You can be good in high school and be explosive for a high-schooler, but you have to take your skills to the next level when you play at the next level."
Nathan Werner will be a junior defensive tackle at SMSU next season. He played in 10 games in 2012.
Alex Werner said he isn't sure whether he'll redshirt or not in his first year with the, something Nath expects to do at NSU, but he hopes to prove himself enough to where he has the opportunity to play alongside his brother in a game.
"It's something I'll do whatever I can to make possible," he said. "I'll work hard towards that goal. I'm a competitor and I want to get on the field as soon as possible."