Tew off to wild blew yonder
Jared Tew and Utah high school football were nearly synonymous this year. As one of the leading rushers in the state and the nation, the running back was pretty hopeful that he could earn a scholarship to a Division I football program.
Local schools had their eye on Tew all season as he helped lead the Miners to a 10-0 regular season record, while accruing a whopping 1,800 yards rushing. He said at one time, all of the Utah schools had their eye on him, but it was out-of-state interest that intrigued Tew the most.
When the Air Force Academy came knocking it was no surprise. The school notorious for running the option scheme kept a keen eye on one of Utah high school’s best option teams. But when longtime coach Fisher DeBerry resigned, Tew began to wonder if the Air Force was still the right fit. A trip to the campus in January solved all that.
"It was a cool campus," he said
Tew is looking forward to all facets of attending a military school. He welcomes the discipline, the academic tradition and is hoping to learn how to fly planes in the meantime.
But the biggest attraction? Playing BYU and Utah. The in-state programs were hot on Tew’s trail early in the high school season, but their interest waned as the signing period neared.
"I can’t wait to play those teams," Tew said with a twinkle in his eye. "I used to be a Utah fan, but not anymore. They wanted me as a preferred walk-on."
Now he relishes the opportunity to show them what they’re missing out on. Tew isn’t sure how long it will take before he starts seeing college playing time, but he is already working hard to prepare. He joins the Miner team in weekly weight workouts and will report to the Colorado Springs, Colo. campus early this summer for basic training followed by fall football camp.
As the youngest in a family of four, he was always trying to out-do his older brother Michael, who himself was a standout football player.
"He started varsity as a sophomore, so you’ve got to be better than the brother," Tew said.
That drive pushed him all four years. And this season Park City head coach Brandon Matich began telling people that Tew would play on Saturdays one day soon.
The signing seals one of Tew’s lifetime dreams.
"I’ve wanted to be a Division I football player since I was little," Tew said.
As he sat there signing the blue and white gilded certificate from the Air Force Academy, he said it was almost surreal.
"I’ve been trying to think about where I’m going to go forever," Tew said. "It’s weird knowing where I’m going to go."
Kruse cruises to Southern Utah
Three years ago, college football was just another viewing option on television for Patrick Kruse.
As he grew bigger and bigger, his friends told him he should try the sport on the high school level. So, as a sophomore, he signed up to play for the Miners.
Kruse’s baptism by fire has resulted in a full-ride scholarship to play as a lineman for Southern Utah University’s football program. But getting there was no easy accomplishment. It wasn’t until this year, that Kruse ever even considered playing at the collegiate level.
"I struggled in my first two years, and then everything started to come together and I started to feel more comfortable," Kruse said.
According to his position coach, Lee Chart, the senior’s immense promise really began to show this year. He said at the start of the year, his size and talent was noteworthy enough that the coaches began pointing him out to recruiters.
"It never occurred to me until this year that I could play college football and get a scholarship," Kruse said.
Kruse’s father played Division III football and had always told his son that it was the best time he spent in the sport in his life.
"He said it’s better than high school and I love high school football," Kruse said.
Kruse is very excited to get started in the Thunderbirds’ program. He had surgery on his shoulder in early December, and has been rehabbing ever since. He is about to start working out in the weight room and hopes to report to the Cedar City campus in prime shape.
Kruse has already received immense support from Chart, who also played college ball at Southern Utah and his older brother, who earned a full-ride academic scholarship to Arizona State Honor College two years ago. He also has the full support of his parents.
"They were excited," Kruse said. "They were happy that I found something I was really into."
Still, when he looks back at his fast progression, he is amazed.
"Now, I’ve gotten used to it," Kruse said as he signed his official commitment papers. "Today wasn’t as weird as when I called the [Southern Utah] coach."
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Park City at the start of 2021 is preparing for the return of numerous special events, something that could help reignite Park City’s tourism-heavy economy and re-create some of the energy that was lacking in 2020.