Despite injuries to some key players early in the 2017 football season, the Park of Cottage Grove Wolfpack still put together a solid year. They won six games – including four in a row. Like his team, senior to be…
Despite injuries to some key players early in the 2017 football season, the Park of Cottage Grove Wolfpack still put together a solid year. They won six games – including four in a row. Like his team, senior to be Payton Shafer suffered an off-season injury that slowed down his recruitment. Even with the injury, he still picked up three offers and recently decided to pull the trigger and commit to South Dakota State.
“We had so many injuries,” Shafer said. “Our quarterback went down. One of our wide receivers went down. Injuries haunted us the whole season. At the beginning of the season when we had everyone out there, we were flying around, but when the injuries started happening, things started to go downhill.”
Shafter was able to stay healthy the entire football season.
“I played defense as a sophomore and this year I played a lot of offense. At the beginning of the year I was half defense and more offense, but with injuries, I started going both ways about three games into the season.”
On offense, Shafer played all over the field.
“I am a slot receiver, running back type of player. My strengths are getting open as a receiver and out of the backfield and blocking for our running back. I am a bigger kid, so they try to use me everywhere.”
The Wolfpack played a base 3-4 defense with Shafer usually lining up on the outside.
“It depended on the team we were playing. I was usually the strong-side or field side outside linebacker,” Shafer told northstarfootballnews.com. “I am a big guy that can run fast. I get to the ball fast and have a nose for the ball. My dad was a football coach for fifteen years, so I was always hanging around always wanting to learn about the game, and I still do.”
Shafer’s father coached for North Dakota College of Science, Northern State, and Concordia-St. Paul.
“I still talk to some of those guys when the (ex-players) come over to the house to see my dad,” Shafer continued. “They are all like family – that is what I really like about football. It is just a big family.
Shafer started on defense only as a sophomore before playing on both sides of the ball for most of his junior year. He expects to play both ways most of the season as a senior. In part to prepare for his final season of football, Shafer – for the first time since he was five-years-old – will not be playing hockey.
“I took a break from hockey to focus on football,” said Shafer, who off the field likes to get out on a lake and wakeboard or kneeboard. “Football is what I see myself doing in college. I focused on becoming a better athlete. Hockey helped me in football with a lot of side to side movement – it helped me in football. They kind of correlate but I am so used to pushing off with my quads in hockey – I just wanted to straighten that out to make me a better athlete.”
Shafer was a defenseman on the rink and runs track in the spring. He tore his hamstring early in the track season.
“I was out for eight weeks,” said the 6’1″ 205-pound athlete. “About two weeks ago I was full go. The first month I was pretty much resting it, icing it and stretching it out. After that, we went into more of a rehab mode – squats and basic lifts like that.”
The injury slowed down his recruitment.
“Schools wanted to see me at morning lifts, but they couldn’t, so they would tell me to come to camp. I went to South Dakota State’s team camp and North Dakota State’s individual camp. I was supposed to go to camps earlier, but I couldn’t because of the injury.”
Once Shafer’s recruitment got going – things moved fast.
“About two months after football everyone wanted to talk to me. Once we got into early June, my family started to talk about it, and I pulled the trigger on South Dakota State. I wanted to get (the recruiting process) over with, and SDSU felt like family.”
The Jackrabbits see their new commit as a weakside outside linebacker.
Shafer also had offers from Eastern Michigan and New Mexico State.
Shafer said the Wolfpack graduated a large portion of the starting lineup, but the Jackrabbits’ commit feels the team came together during team camp and with everyone – including Shafter – healthy, the Wolfpack can expect another solid season from the team and their two-way star.