November 22, 2008

Parkway West's next star?

This season, Parkway West coach Mike Roth decided to move junior Ben Eskelsen from defensive end to middle linebacker. Since the move, Eskelsen has been hearing from schools across the country according to Roth.

"He is getting more mail now than Blaine Gabbert did as a senior," the coach said. "I have a pile of stuff on my desk right now. He will have lots of opportunity. Many of the letters are from schools around the Midwest and really all around the country. He is really excited about his future, and wherever he ends up he will work extremely hard."

Eskelsen said getting this kind of attention is a testament to how much work he has put into his game, whether it's in practice or in the weight room. Hearing from these schools is motivating him to continue and work harder he said.

"I have been receiving a lot of informational stuff from Iowa, Alabama, Northwestern, Vanderbilt and Nebraska," Eskelsen said. "Those are the top schools that are sending me stuff. I have gotten a couple of letters from Mizzou, but not too much at this point."

Tiger fans became familiar with Parkway West after coveted recruit Blaine Gabbert chose Mizzou last year. Eskelsen said he was surprised that he was getting as much attention as Gabbert.

"It's weird because I was thinking that since he was a quarterback, he would be getting a lot more letters than I would ever get as a linebacker," he said. "I am surprised at that because he was like a five-star recruit and the No. 1 ranked NFL-style quarterback or something. It's exciting and it feels good."

Eskelsen has seen playing time on both sides of the ball throughout his career, but he said defense is definitely the spot for him.

"I like the aggressiveness of the defensive side of the ball," the linebacker said. "There is no time to think. You just go. You read a play, and you go. I play offense too, and offense is more of a game where you have to think a lot more about what you are doing."

According to Roth, Eskelsen is never really the most vocal leader on the team, but when he speaks his teammates listen. Part of this respect comes from the work he does in the weight room according to the coach. Currently, Eskelsen said he is 6-foot-0 and 220 lbs. He lost about ten pounds during the season, and he is looking to reach 240 lbs. by the start of his senior season.

The linebacker is also looking to be more of a leader for his team during his final season at Parkway West.

"Being a senior, even if I was not being recruited, I still need to be a part of the team leadership," he said. "I am still in high school, and I need to do whatever I can to help my team now."

When it comes to finding the right college, Eskelsen said he is not necessary concerned with how successful the program is, but how well he can connect with the coaching staff.

"For me, it is mostly about the coaches," he said. "I definitely want to go to a competitive program where the coaches and I see eye-to-eye."

Eskelsen has not wasted any time, and he has already visited a few of the schools that sent him letters. Along with visiting Nebraska, the junior also visited a school in the Big 10 and SEC.

"I would say all the schools that I visited impressed me," Eskelsen said. "I visited Northwestern and Vanderbilt, which are two very good schools. Their football programs are not the best, but they are really good schools if I got in. I would get a really good degree."

For now, Eskelsen is going to wait to see what offers he receives before getting more into recruiting.

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