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Decision time: Wodka commits to Sioux Falls with Signing Day approaching
Instead of watching the series finale of 30 Rock, Plano West senior linebacker Jake Wodka found a more productive use of his time Thursday night: he secured his collegiate future.
The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder did so by committing to Sioux Falls (South Dakota).
"From the get go, I loved the campus and the coaches," Wodka said.
The relationship between Wodka and Sioux Falls was solidified during his visit over the weekend as the Cougars gave Wodka a No. 51 jersey, matching the number he wore with the Wolves and the number of Wodka's favorite player, NFL Hall-of-Famer Dick Butkus.
"That was awesome," Wodka said. "It just really showed effort and how much they wanted me."
Sioux Falls wasn't alone.
Prior to Thursday's verbal commitment, Wodka held offers from Pennsylvania, Eastern Kentucky, Harvard and Princeton. He had also talked with North Texas, Sam Houston State, Abilene Christian, Stephen F. Austin and Midwestern State.
The ample options were matched with a diminishing amount of time to choose.
"That added a whole nother deal of stress," Wodka said. "It was really nerve-racking since it was so close to Signing Day, so this is definitely a relief."
Wodka was also offered a preferred walk-on spot at Iowa State, where his father Jeff played from 1981-85.
"Obviously that would have been cool to go to Iowa State," Wodka said. "But I wanted to go somewhere and get my education paid for if possible and I had that opportunity."
Rest assured, Wodka's dad was plenty satisfied with where his son chose.
"I couldn't be prouder of Jake, not only for his accomplishments in helping Plano West to their best season ever, but as the Christian man he has become," Mr. Wodka said. "He is a Young Life, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Campaigner's leader and receiving a scholarship to a top Christian university makes me very happy."
It stands to reason that West's senior linebacker would be a sought after player.
Wodka was the Wolves' Defensive MVP as the team put together its best playoff run ever. He also led the team in tackles, forced fumbles and recovered fumbles en route to being a unanimous first team all-district pick. Wodka displayed his abilities in the classroom as well with a 3.56 GPA.
Sioux Falls brings strong credentials to the table too.
The Cougars won two NAIA National Championships and finished this past season at 9-2 in their second year of Division II football.
"Success would be a good way to describe the program," Wodka said. "And obviously, I like to win."
While the trip to campus is three hours by air and 14 by road, Wodka won't be wanting for familiar faces.
"Jake has family in Sioux Falls, S.D., Iowa and Illinois that can't wait to see him play at the next level," Mr. Wodka said. "And I'll be doing a lot of travelling to what we call 'the frozen tundra.'"
Wodka is the fifth recent football commit from West's seniors class with defensive linemen Mason Gentry (SMU) and Nick Green (Navarro Junior College) as well as offensive linemen Parker Murry (Sam Houston State) and Stephan Randall (Navarro) making pledges.
All of them can sign letters of intent Wednesday.
Lady Wolves to have big presence at Signing Day
While West already has five football players set to sign Wednesday morning, they aren't scheduled to be the largest group when the school's ceremony commences.
That honor belongs to the defending Class 5A State Champion girls soccer team.
The Lady Wolves, currently ranked No. 1 in the nation by Elite Soccer Report, have eight varsity players scheduled to ink their intent Wednesday.
That group includes Brooke Ramsier and Casie Ramsier (Auburn), Sparky Fischer (Arkansas), Taylor Jackson and Taylor Barg (SMU), Claire Wheatley (Illinois), Bailey Sabei (Delta State) and Gabby Hadly (Hardin-Simmons).
"This is a big day for the girls," said Vicki Wheatley, Claire's mother. "They've all been playing with or against each other since they were in elementary school."