Most high school athletes who have scholarship offers have one big decision to make – what school do they want to attend? Mankato East senior Jordan Merseth has two decisions to make. What school does he want to attend and what sport does he want to play at the next level – football or basketball?
On the football field, the Cougars finished 5-5 – their best season since 2015.
“It was a great recruiting year for the culture we have had,” Merseth said. “We laid a baseline of what could be the next few years. We could have won a few more games, but overall it was a good season.”
When the team played well, they played together, were balanced, and played physical.
“The games where we played bad, we didn’t play as a team and played for ourselves. When we played together and played for each other, we found out we could beat teams,” Merseth said. “We ran the ball well and had a good passing game. On defense, we were physical and had good cornerbacks that could shut down receivers.”
Merseth’s improvement from last year mirrored the growth of the team.
“I did a lot better than last year,” the Cougars’ left tackle said. “I thought I was more physical upfront. My run game was better than the year before – as well as my pass blocking. I had the experience, and I got stronger last offseason. I worked hard in the weight room last summer – that helped a lot.”
An offensive lineman who also plays basketball, it is not hard to guess what Merseth’s best attributes are on the football field.
“I think my strength is my footwork. I feel like I am a ballerina on my feet. I can move to as the outside and can block on the inside. My physicality is also one of my strengths.”
A three-year starter at tackle, Merseth’s responsibilities doubled as a senior.
“I started at defensive end this year and played all over the line. I played the one technique, three-technique, as well as on the outside. I think my length gave offensive lines struggles. I did a good job of freeing the linebackers up.”
Basketball dominates his winter and his spring.
“The basketball season is going pretty well,” said Merseth, a starter on a 6-1 basketball team. “I play big and physical, but I also have great footwork on the basketball court. I lift about two times a week during the basketball season. It is kind of hard to get in there during the season.”
Merseth knows he needs to improve.
“For football, I need to get a better understanding of the left tackle position. I have had three head coaches in three years. I haven’t been able to learn consistently from any coaches. I am looking for that in a school. For basketball, I need to work on my hops.”
He plays AAU basketball in the spring. In the summer, he lifts during the week and plays AAU basketball during the weekend. The dual sports have complemented each other.
“Football helps me in basketball by showing me I can move people where I want so I can score,” NFN’s 91st ranked senior said. “Basketball helps my football – I can be agile and can get to the places I need to be quick.”
Colleges have noticed.
“Recruiting has been going well. I have had some coaches come to the school to talk to me. I have had some new Division II schools recently reach out to me for football. I have offers from Morningside College, Northwestern College, and MSU-Moorhead. For basketball, I have had some NAIA and Division III schools talk to me. I have an offer from Waldorf College. It has been a fun experience in both sports.”
Merseth – who is 6’5″ and 260 pounds – 240 during basketball – has gotten good feedback from college programs.
“In football, they like my footwork and that I am physical. The coaches do want me to get more aggressive with some stuff. They think I have a great frame so they can mold me into whatever they want me to be for their program. In basketball, they tell me I can do a lot of damage down low. They tell me I can be a good big man for them the next four or five years.”
This late in the recruiting game, the schools are waiting for Merseth to decide.
“They want me to go one way or another. I am going to try to figure that out pretty soon,” Merseth told northstarfootballnews.com. “I haven’t had much time to get out to campuses. I will be making visits in January and February.”
The Cougars’ big man is less concerned with the sport he plays and more concerned with where he plays.
“I am okay playing either sport. I am not going to try to play both in college. The decision on the sport is going to come down to which school feels the best. When I go on visits, I am looking where I fit in the best.”