Although he already has two seasons of varsity football under his belt, although he already has college programs in two sports asking his coaches about him, Parkers Prairie soon to be junior Travis Yohnke is his biggest critic.
He knows he has a lot of areas he can improve.
“We are a run based offense, but my coach looked at my size and thought they need to get me out in the open to let me work, but with my size, I need to be able to block and move people. I had my ups and downs throughout the season,” Yohnke admitted. “Some games I played well and other games it looked like I needed some improvement. On defense, I got knocked around a little bit. I was on the roller coaster I had my ups and downs again. I need to be steadier, but I thought I had a solid season for a sophomore.”
Despite Yohnke downplaying his success, college programs are inquiring about him. The two-way player's coaches have told him North Dakota State, Minnesota and South Dakota are looking at him.
Offensively, Yohnke feels his size – he stands 6'5″ and weighs 230 pounds – is his biggest strength.
“When I line up outside on the corner one on one, I have size on him,” Yohnke said. “I am not the fastest guy, but I can outrun some people. In the offseason I worked a lot on my blocking; if I can't block as at tight end that is a bit of a problem. My number one focus has been to get bigger. If you are bigger, you can set the tone out there. I have also worked on my foot speed.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Yohnke switched between linebacker and defensive tackle.
“I started at outside linebacker but as the season went on the coaches liked how some of the younger guys were looking, so they moved me to defensive tackle,” said Yohnke – whose family runs a hobby farm with beef cattle, pigs, chickens, and elk. “My job was to stop the run and be tough up front. This offseason I have been working on my explosion off the ball and getting that first push. I have to work on staying low and having a low center of gravity. With my height, if I stand up I am not doing too well.”
As a freshman, he switched back and forth from offense and defense. He played in most of the games but usually not both ways in the same game. During summer practices this season he has been taking reps at both defensive tackle and middle linebacker.
Yohnke is a three sport athlete. He would get in the weight room before school and after school would be with the basketball team in the winter and the baseball team in the spring. A center in basketball he was mainly a rebounder and presence in the middle for a team that won 21 games. The Jamestown College coach invited him to a basketball camp after his sophomore season, but he was unable to attend.
In the spring, NFN's 18th ranked player from the Class of 2019 played first base on the state championship Panthers' baseball team.
“My coach says what he likes about me is I don't strike out much,” Yohnke told northstarfootballnews.com. “I hit the ball hard and put it in play.”
If Yohnke has anything to say about it, the Panthers' football team should be in play late in the playoffs again this season. Even if Yohnke still has flaws in his game with another year under his belt, he will continue to be a handful for teams in Section 6A.