Crystal Lake Central offensive lineman Lane Puckett did not give Minnesota State-Moorhead much thought when linemate Damien Patrick mentioned the school last summer.
Puckett thought the school was too far north and the climate might be a bit cold for his taste. However, when Moorhead coaches watched Patrick’s game videos, they noticed Puckett as well.
“Damien told them I wasn’t that interested, but when he told me the coaches were asking, I said ‘No, tell him to call me!’ ” Puckett said.
Now, the right side of Central’s offensive line will head north together. Patrick committed to Dragons coach Steve Laqua and his staff Tuesday; Puckett will travel to the NCAA Division II school this weekend and give the coaches his commitment in person. They can sign their NCAA national letters of intent Feb. 6, the first day of signing for football.
Patrick and Puckett were instrumental in helping Central to a 9-3 record and to the IHSA Class 6A playoff quarterfinal round, where it lost to Cary-Grove, 7-0. Patrick was the Tigers’ right tackle, Puckett played right guard, then switched to center when they went to their spread offense so he could handle the shotgun snaps.
“The process was long and grueling, and not as fun as everyone said it would be,” said Puckett, a Northwest Herald All-Area second-team selection. “After the season, it was mainly D-II and D-III schools, and that’s fine. [Laqua] sounded like a genuine guy, someone who I wouldn’t have any problem giving my all for every day.”
Patrick and Puckett also liked that Moorhead’s line coach, Rob Hunt, is a former NFL lineman who played on the Indianapolis Colts with quarterback Peyton Manning. Patrick, like Puckett, received some D-I interest. He liked Moorhead’s facilities and the opportunity. Both players likely will redshirt as freshmen.
“It’s always been a goal to take it to the next level,” Patrick said. “I felt like Moorhead was the best place for me to move on. [Lane] and I’ve been talking all semester long, and the last couple of weeks we both decided it was a good place.”
Patrick is 6-foot-31⁄2, 305 pounds; Puckett is 6-3, 265.
“I started taking into account playing time and money, that what I could get through academics and athletics, and knew [Moorhead] would be an option,” Puckett said. “The other schools I was looking at couldn’t bring what Moorhead brought to the table.”
Katchen to Bethany: Cary-Grove’s Sam Katchen will continue her volleyball career at NCAA Division III Bethany (W.Va.) College next year.
Katchen, a 5-foot-10 middle blocker, helped the Trojans to second place in the IHSA Class 4A State Tournament as a junior. She teamed with Micah Duzey and finished second in the AAU Junior Olympic Beach Volleyball Championships in 2012. They were third in 2011.
Bethany was third in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference and the Bison tied their season record for wins at 31-8.
“We are very excited to have Sam as a part of our program at Bethany,” Bison coach Courtney Kline said. “She is coming from a great background of volleyball and knows what type of work ethic it takes to be successful at the college level. I am looking forward to getting the opportunity to work with her in the next four years.”
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.