Thanksgiving weekend turned out to be much busier than Marian Central offensive tackle Kurtis Stirneman expected.
Stirneman made a whirlwind, 48-hour, 2,000-mile round-trip trek to Laramie, Wyo., to lock up his football future, committing to play at Wyoming on Saturday. Stirneman, a 6-foot-6, 280-pound tackle, committed to Western Michigan over the summer but announced Saturday night on Twitter he had changed his mind.
After months of planning to continue his playing career with the Broncos, Stirneman found himself in limbo after Western Michigan fired coach Bill Cubit on Nov. 17. That prompted Stirneman to use Thanksgiving break to travel to Wyoming.
Stirneman had a standing offer from Cowboys coach Dave Christ-ensen and was impressed with the school based on research he had done online. But after leaving home Friday at 6 a.m. and arriving at 10:30 p.m., Stirneman met with Christensen for 45 minutes before touring the campus Saturday.
Before he left Saturday night, he knew where he wanted to spend the next four years. Stirneman said Sunday morning he expected he would make a decision before he returned home.
“Just with the fallout at Western Michigan, I figured I would [commit],” Stirneman said. “For months, you have this feeling that you know where you’re going to be and how things are going to go, and then it’s all taken away from you.
“It just feels good to have that security back.”
Stirneman said he liked Wyoming’s tight-knit campus environment and also felt at home in Laramie’s small-town atmosphere. Stirneman made the trip with Connor Riese, a standout 6-7, 305-pound offensive lineman from Wisconsin, who also had committed to play at Western Michigan.
The two attended a Western Michigan game together and hit it off. But after Cubit was fired, Stirneman and Riese spent much of the week on the phone or texting, trying to decide what they’d do next.
On Saturday, both committed to play for the Cowboys before making the 1,000-mile trip back and arriving home at 8:45 a.m. Sunday.
As with his decision to play for Wyoming, Stirneman announced his arrival back in McHenry County on Twitter.
“Finally back home in my bed. 2,000 miles in a 48 hour trip,” he tweeted Sunday. “That’s just a [darn] near good weekend.”