When Division I programs talk about recruiting, the coaches always talk about keeping the best in-state players in-state. At the Division II level that is not the same narrative, but for Winona State and Winona High School’s Nicholas Waldo, that narrative holds true. Waldo has lived in the area all his life, has followed the Warriors and has taken part in programs through the Warriors’ football program. WSU built off that relationship and landed one of the biggest recruits in the Winona area.
Although Waldo knew the Winona State program well, that didn’t mean the recruiting process was any more comfortable than the next guy.
“It was a crazy process,” Waldo said. “My family has never gone through this, and I had no idea what I was doing at the beginning, but with their support, I was able to get through it. It took a lot of time and was very stressful.”
Although his family didn’t have experience with the recruiting process, Waldo had someone in his athletic circle that did.
“I have a strength and conditioning coach that knows a lot about it. He helped me a lot.”
Towards the end of the process, WSU, Augustana, and Concordia-St. Paul were all on Waldo’s short list. Where he grew up had a significant influence on his ultimate decision.
“I have been a Winona kid my whole life. I have been going to summer camps and gained a bond with the coaches all the way from middle school football when I would go to camps,” the 6’3″ 250-pound senior said. “Coach Sawyer is a good coach and has always had his eye on me. They are a great football program, and they have the educational program I want.”
Waldo – who is ultimately looking to become a strength and conditioning coach after graduation – will be on the defensive line, but where is yet to be determined.
“They don’t play a traditional 4-3. WSU’s defense has three linemen and then a linebacker that plays as a defensive end sometimes. They want me at the three-technique, but I am a guy who can move around if they want me to move around.”
Work ethic is something Waldo thinks the coaches noticed.
“Whenever I would go to a camp I would work my butt off and try to be number one,” Waldo explained. “They said they needed me in the program to make them better.”
Ever since the football season ended, northstarfootballnews.com’s 72nd ranked Class of 2018 prospect has focused on a specific area.
“I need to get better at everything, but my main focus is my conditioning and stamina. My strength coach – whose day job is at WSU – has been getting me prepared.”
Waldo will be working with his coach to improve his feet and his hands. He will not be doing it in a traditional football way.
“I will be doing some boxing things that my coach is bringing in – stuff to get my hands quicker.”
What Waldo’s role with Winona State will be in year one is yet to be determined.
“The coaches are always looking to red-shirt freshmen, but I am always going to compete,” Waldo told northstarfootballnews.com. “If I am doing better than a starter then they will start me. Playing time will be based on the work you put in and who they think will fit better on the field at that time.”
Waldo has always been a good fit for the Winona State football program. The Warriors were able to keep one of the area’s best players in the area.