John Gronski starred at running back at Bemidji State in the late 1980s but he wasn’t going to steer his son in that direction when it came time for Jarrett to pick a school.
“He just said, ‘We’ll probably go to a lot of places, look at a lot of schools, and just keep an open mind. Look at every college like you haven’t looked at one before, and pick the one you want,’ ” Jarrett Gronski recalled.
Ultimately, that turned out to be the Beavers.
Jarrett Gronski, the Superior Telegram and Duluth News Tribune All-Area player of the year from Superior, signed a national letter of intent Wednesday, Feb. 5, to play football at Bemidji State. Gronski, an electric playmaker for the Spartans, is projected as a halfback/fullback/wildcat-type player for the Beavers, but the 6-foot-1, 205-pounder can play just about anywhere.
“Jarrett has a very high football IQ,” Superior coach Bob DeMeyer said. “He is ultra competitive and is a leader of very high character. They’re getting an outstanding young man and tremendous football player.”
Gronski and his father visited Bemidji on Dec. 6-7 and Minnesota State-Moorhead right after that.
St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Crookston were interested in Gronski before those schools discontinued their programs. Minnesota State-Mankato, Northern State and Sioux Falls also showed a little interest.
“No other school quite rang the bell like Bemidji,” Gronski said. “It was just fun down there. It was cool. I met a lot of nice people, a good community and a great coaching staff. I just kind of fell in love with it from there. They took us on a bus tour of the community, so we got to really soak up everything that Bemidji has to offer.”
Gronski led Superior to the Wisconsin Division 2 state semifinals after moving full time to quarterback, rushing for 1,146 yards and 19 touchdowns and throwing for 753 yards and four scores. He also started at defensive back, punted and returned punts and had a penchant for spearheading remarkable comebacks.
Gronski, who maintains a 3.3 grade-point average and plans on going into sports management, said he doesn’t feel any pressure to duplicate what his dad did for the Beavers. Pressure isn’t in Jarrett’s DNA.
“Not for me,” he said. “I’m just going to go there, play football and have fun. Do what I do best. I’m just looking forward to being a Beaver. It was all about finding the best fit for me.”
While John Gronski didn’t steer his son to Bemidji, the Beavers’ hall of famer certainly took some pride in the fact his son is following in his footsteps.
“After we took the visit, he kind of fell back in love with Bemidji again,” Jarrett Gronski said. “He was very happy I made the decision to go to Bemdji, and I am, too.”
Best of the rest
Gronski’s teammate, Brady Herbst, will sign with Minnesota Duluth, where the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder is projected as an outside linebacker.
“Brady in my opinion was the most destructive defensive player in our league, and I think our league is one of the top leagues in the state,” DeMeyer said. “He is an explosive athlete who wreaks havoc, and teams have to certainly be aware of where he lines up. They have to gameplan around Brady Herbst because he’s that type of a player.”
Chris Hoivik, meanwhile, is going to St. Scholastica while fellow Spartans Will Schorr, Donavynne Brown, Caden Stone, Cody Kurki and Austin Lahr are all interested in playing college football but are undecided.
“It’s just really exciting and shows what led to our success this year,” Gronski said. “We just had a lot of guys who love playing football and bonded. It worked out. By far (he laughed) … that was just about as close as you can get to the best senior season I could ask for.”
Gronski wasn’t the only Northland athlete to get interest from St. Cloud State and Minnesota-Crookston before those programs folded.
Eveleth-Gilbert coach Derek Malner said senior quarterback/defensive end Nick Beaudette was recruited by St. Cloud State before the program was cut. Now the multisport athlete is looking for a team. Malner said the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Beaudette ran the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds last summer. The captain accounted for nearly 2,000 yards of offense last fall and 17 touchdowns.
Gronski and Herbst will be joined by Brennan Morrissey, who will play lacrosse at Adam State, for a signing day presentation at 3:45 p.m. Wednesday in the Superior High School library conference room.
Duluth Denfeld will have a signing day presentation at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Hunters’ commons area for football players Grant Steger (St. Scholastica), Nico Roberts (Mesabi Community College), girls soccer player Elena Davidson (Queens University of Charlotte) and boys lacrosse player Jaden Erie (Illinois Wesleyan). Steger also plans to compete in track. Lineman Johnny Nguyen is also looking at college football but is still undecided.
Proctor linebacker/tight end Cole Johnson, Hermantown offensive tackle Jeb Paczynski, Silver Bay running back Mason Ollman and Mountain Iron-Buhl running back/lineman Dillon Drake are also signing with Bemidji State.
Ollman led the Northland with 1,926 rushing yards on 231 carries and 24 touchdowns despite missing two games. He finished with 4,207 career rushing yards and 46 TDs. Drake rushed for 1,438 yards and 17 TDs and on defense had 112 tackles, 10 quarterback sacks, five fumble recoveries and set a state career mark with 103.5 tackles for loss for his career.
Johnson’s Proctor teammate, RB/LB Cody Urie, will play at Concordia-Moorhead.
Two Harbors RB/DB Karsen Holm has been accepted into the Air Force Academy and is in talks with them about walking onto the football team as an outside linebacker or safety. He was the Agates’ leading tackler with 88 stops, including nine for loss.
Northwestern’s Jake Brill is signing to play baseball at Winona State and Bryson Mazur football at Minnesota State-Moorhead. Jagar Stillson, Dayne Evanson and Drew Pearson plan on playing football at Wisconsin-Stout.
Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin wide receiver Dylan DeChampeau will play football at UMD while running back/linebacker Eli Conaway is off to Sioux Falls. The 6-5 DeChampeau had 21 receptions for 658 yards — good for 31 yards per reception — and nine TDs to lead the Titans to a 7-3 record. DeChampeau has also scored more than 2,700 career points in basketball and is a state-track qualifier. He was recruited by all the NSIC schools and some Football Championship Subdivision schools. Conaway is a physical football player who had 97 tackles and six sacks for a defense that only allowed 11.1 points per game. He was the conference player of the year the last two years.
Grand Rapids linebacker Hadyn Anderson will play at St. Scholastica.