I don’t know who is going to end up being the best football player coming out of Minnesota’s class of 2020. We won’t know for at least five years. I am confident I know who one of the toughest players…
I don’t know who is going to end up being the best football player coming out of Minnesota’s class of 2020. We won’t know for at least five years. I am confident I know who one of the toughest players in the state of Minnesota’s 2020 class is – Winona’s Sam Kanne.
Kanne has drawn the interest of many Division II programs and is on the radar of some Division I schools. He has picked up this interest despite missing the first handful of games his junior season. More impressively, he has picked up this interest despite playing all season with two injured hands.
“I broke my left wrist last April front squatting in the weight room,” Kanne said. “It hurt, but I didn’t do anything about it until this December. I broke my thumb on my right hand the second week of two-a-days. Then, I hit my thumb when wrapping up one of my teammates. I went to the doctor right away, and I was out for two weeks, and I played with a cast the rest of the season.”
Despite having one of their best players the first part of the season, the Winhawks had a great season.
“We surprised a few people,” Kanne said. “We lost a lot of seniors the year before, and not a lot was expected of us. The team had a good junior class and some good leaders in the senior class. We came together and surprised some people. We ended up upsetting Mankato West, finished the regular season 8-0 and really played well.”
Winona would advance to the state tournament before suffering their only defeat of the season in the state 4A quarterfinals. After coming back from his injuries, Kanne – who plays both linebacker and wing back – had to adjust the way he played.
“Blocking was different – any contact with my hands was weird,” Kanne admitted. “I used to be able to bend my wrist back when absorbing a hit with the bottom part of my hand. I couldn’t do that, so I had to figure out a different way to get off blocks. I have been playing for so long, and I was used to doing one thing and then the next thing I knew, I couldn’t move a certain way.”
Even though he missed games and played through injury, Kanne felt he should have done more.
“There is always room for improvement,” Kanne said, “but I was second on the team in tackles – which was down from last year when I was first in tackles. It was difficult, but I was able to make it work. I think I took a step back and didn’t end where I wanted, but I have one more chance left. I am going to make the most of it.”
It didn’t take long for Kanne – who will be a four-year starter on offense and a three-year starter on defense – to start playing on both sides of the ball again.
“I started on defense as soon as I came back from my injury. The coaches started playing me on offense about two weeks later. The last six weeks I started both ways.”
Kanne plays the strong-side, inside linebacker in the Winhawks’ hybrid 3-4 defense.
“I believe I am a good run stuffer and can play sideline to sideline.”
“(On offense) I usually play more of a wing than an actual fullback,” Kanne continued. “I think I am pretty versatile on offense. I can block the big boys on the defensive line and have the ability to get outside and get my hands on a corner.”
The 5’11” 220-pound junior has focused on improving himself from a mental perspective.
“I have been watching a lot of film of myself, so I can learn how to read the play faster.”
He has not neglected physical improvement.
“I lift four days a week with a big group of football players,” Kanne said. “It is bench, clean and squat focused, but we don’t just lift to get big, we lift to get more athletic.”
With lifting almost every day, Kanne also fits in being a three-sport athlete playing basketball and – hopefully soon – baseball.
“I don’t get a lot of playing time on the basketball court,” Kanne – who likes to spend time on the river in his spare time – said. “I am mostly a small forward who comes in to play defense and try to lock some kids down. I haven’t played a game in baseball yet, but when I am out of my cast at the end of the year, I mostly play catcher and sometimes outfield.”
This summer, football recruiting will ramp up.
“I have some camps lined up. I will be going to SCSU, UMD and some of the other DII schools in Minnesota.”
“Recruiting is going pretty well,” Kanne continued. “I have gone on junior day visits to Iowa St, South Dakota State, Duluth, Winona State, Bemidji and I was invited to a few more but couldn’t make it.”
When it comes to recruiting, Kanne is hearing from schools who like him at fullback as well as linebacker. For now, Kanne is taking it all in.
“(Recruiting) is not something I am used to,” Kanne admitted. “It has been really cool to see the differences and see what some programs have and what they don’t and what is going to be the best fit for you.”
It is something he is going to have to get used to. If Sam Kanne can generate this much college interest with two injured hands, there is no telling how much interest he will generate with two healthy ones.