Miners middle linebacker Conner Christoffersen signs with Southern Virginia University | ParkRecord.com

Miners middle linebacker Conner Christoffersen signs with Southern Virginia University

On Saturday, Park City High School senior Conner Christoffersen signed a letter of intent to play football with Southern Virginia University in Buena Vista, Virginia.

The university sits just south of the western Blue Ridge Mountains in a town of 7,000 and has a strong focus on the values of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. With just under 1,000 students, SVU fields an NCAA Division III football team called the Knights. Christoffersen started considering becoming a Knight as a sophomore and, in a phone interview on Monday, said he was surprised by the campus's rural setting after he visited, expecting something more urban. But in some ways, the tight-knit community felt like home.

For one thing, it had a similar educational structure to PCHS, he said, and the smaller class sizes mean his teachers will be more accessible than at larger in-state options.

The school's motto "Learn that Life is Service," is also an appropriate fit for the senior, who worked hard to earn a leading role on the PCHS varsity team, where he played middle linebacker after coming into his own during his junior year, according to head coach Josh Montzingo.

Now, Montzingo says, the Miners will lose "the heart and soul" of their defense. Christofferson led the team in tackles and was co-defensive player of the year in Region 11. For his efforts, Christoffersen was well regarded among coaches and was a force other teams had to plan around, Montzingo said.

"He's a very physical runner, that's the way he plays the game," Montzingo said. "He plays physical all the time."

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To Montzingo and Christoffersen's father, Brant, the senior's success with the Miners also means there is a good chance he'll play an important role with the Knights his freshman year. Starting this August, Christoffersen will enter the tutelage of the Knights' new head coach Edwin Mulitalo, who was an offensive guard for the Baltimore Ravens during the team's 2001 Super Bowl victory.

The SVU coaching staff visited the Christoffersens in Park City recently as part of the team's recruiting effort, and the team's attention to Christoffersen has made it a little easier for Brant to accept his son's choice to go so far away, though the distance still bothers him.

"It's hard, it is," Brant said. "But football has always been kind of his dream, so it's nice he was able to achieve that dream. … It's a quick plane ride, and all their games air on YouTube live."

For Christoffersen, missing his family and his teammates — "Some of them I've been playing football with since the third grade" — is part of the price of realizing that dream, as well as getting a good education.

He plans to study pre-medicine when he gets to Virginia, and the school's academics were a big draw for him.

"100 percent of the people that graduated from pre-med were able to get into their (medical) schools within a month," he said.

Christoffersen plans to get stronger over the season and train for the upcoming fall football season.

His long-term plans include having a great spiritual, physical and educational experience.