Schweiger excited about playing at Iowa State

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


DEREK SCHWEIGER, Plymouth senior, is pictured with his parents, Dennis and Diane Schweiger, after signing a national letter of intent Feb. 1 to be a preferred walk-on for the Iowa State University football team this fall. – Photo by Tyler Luedtke DEREK SCHWEIGER, Plymouth senior, is pictured with his parents, Dennis and Diane Schweiger, after signing a national letter of intent Feb. 1 to be a preferred walk-on for the Iowa State University football team this fall. – Photo by Tyler Luedtke PLYMOUTH – Playing Division 1 college football will be a dreamcome true for Derek Schweiger who wrapped up an outstanding career for the Plymouth Panthers in his senior season last fall.

Schweiger signed a national letter of intent Feb. 1 to be a preferred walk-on for the Iowa State University football team this fall. ISU, located in Ames, is a member of the Big 12 Conference.

“It’s a great opportunity. I wanted to play Division 1 football. After I accepted [the letter of intent] it was like a dream. The facilities, everything, are top-notch,” he said.

As a preferred walk-on Schweiger will be like any of the scholarship players and will have the opportunity to earn an athletic scholarship through his performance level.

“I went there [to ISU] for a visit and just loved it. They’re one of the top schools for education that I’m going for which is food science [Schweiger’s major]. Everything just fell in place,” he said.

Other schools who were interested in Schweiger included UW-Madison, Minnesota, UW-Whitewater and St. Norbert College. UW-Madison and Minnesota are D-1 schools. Schweiger said UW-Madison told him he would have to wait until next year to join the program because the Badgers had already filled their walk-on spots for this upcoming season.

Schweiger will redshirt his fresh- man year but will keep his four years of playing eligibility at ISU. He will be allowed to practice with the Cyclones this season but won’t be eligible to play until next year.

“They pretty much redshirt the first-year players and I’m comfortable with that,” he said.

Schweiger will play either guard or center. At PHS he played guard and defensive end, and was named the East Central Conference’s Offensive and Defensive Lineman of the Year and the Defensive Player of the Year. He was a three-year starter at guard for the Panthers.

“I’m comfortable on the offensive line and it doesn’t matter where I play. I’ll do whatever I need to,” said Schweiger.

Schweiger pointed out what impressed him the most about Iowa State’s football program.

“Just the culture of the football team. I met a couple of players and coaches. It’s what they [football program] preach there and how they preach it – you’re gong to be a man and you’re going to give 100 percent all the time, and it’s just something I’m interested in,” he said.

“I want to give my effort all the time to try to make myself better on the football team as well as in the classroom.”

Schweiger stated his goals for this year.

“I just want to work as hard as I can and see where it goes from there. If I get a scholarship, that’s the first step and then from there work my way up and see the field,” he said.

He said his goal is to eventually be a starter for the Cyclones.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for Derek. The [PHS] program is very proud of him,” said Panther head coach Dan Knaus. “Nick Mueller was the last D-1 walk-on from Plymouth [at UW-Madison in the late 1990s], so this a great achievement.

“While it’s hard to compare high school to the D-1 level, I think with Derek’s work ethic he will compete very well. I think Derek will compete physically and mentally. He has tons of potential for a player of his size.

“He will have to get even stronger. At the D-1 level the game is much more physically demanding,” Knaus said.

Schweiger, 6-feet-4, 270 pounds, pointed out the areas he will focus on to prepare for college football.

“I have to continue lifting and keep my muscle mass up, and keep running as well. I don’t want to be the guy who’s not making times [in practice]. I just want to keep up with the rest of them until they tell me what to individually work on,” he said.

“I’m always working on my lower body, legs and explosion. You need it all.”

Schweiger sees Cyclone football on the rise. ISU was only 2-7 in the Big 12 and 3-9 overall last season but had one of its best recruiting classes ever this year.

“They bring in hard-working guys who get the job done. They want to be one of the top teams in the Big 12. They’re bringing in a lot of talent and didn’t lose a lot of guys [to graduation],” said Schweiger, an allstate honorable-mention defensive end last season.

“It means a lot to me [to be a part of the program and the building process]. Getting the offer means a lot to me and everything I worked for.”

The Panther football team’s success last season was instrumental in Schweiger’s college football opportunity.

“My teammates around me helped me get these looks [from colleges]. If we didn’t win the conference and make it to the second round of the playoffs [last season] no one really looks at you,” he pointed out.

“Team success is individual success. All of my awards weren’t just for me. It’s all a team game. It’s the running backs hitting the holes and finding the ways to get yards, and it’s the guys next to me blocking with me. Everyone was getting the team better.”

His older brother, Drew, is a sophomore at ISU with an industrial engineering major. Their parents are Dennis and Diane Schweiger.

Derek was invited to play in the annual Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-Star Game in July but decided not to participate because of his PHS baseball commitment.


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