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updated: 7/13/2013 4:33 PM

Lake Zurich football star plays in dad's memory

Coach David Proffitt says, 'Colton Moskal is a special kid'

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  • Colton Moskal of Lake Zurich blocks a Crystal Lake South punt for a safety in the first half of the Class 7A state playoff opener.

      Colton Moskal of Lake Zurich blocks a Crystal Lake South punt for a safety in the first half of the Class 7A state playoff opener.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Colton Moskal

    Colton Moskal

  • Joe Aguilar sports columnist.

      Joe Aguilar sports columnist.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer


This is the way a dad with a son draws it up.

Sign up the little guy for sports. See him grow, flourish, grow some more, flourish some more, keep growing, keep flourishing and then watch proudly, smile stretching from ear to ear, trying not to burst with joy, as son signs a national letter of intent.

Only Tom Moskal won't be there -- not physically, anyway -- when his middle son Colton, a Lake Zurich football star, signs to play linebacker with Syracuse University.

"He, my older brother and I were pretty close," Colton said. "We were like best friends."

A three-sport athlete in high school who became a defensive line standout for Eastern Illinois, was a Panthers teammate of Sean Payton and later spent time with the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals, Tom Moskal passed away unexpectedly when Colton was 9. Tom Moskal, who had a heart condition, was in his early 40s. He left behind a wife, Sandy, and three athletic sons -- Blake, Colton and Logan.

"I definitely hope I make him proud," said Colton, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound middle linebacker and incoming senior who will be playing his third season of varsity football. "I'm going to try to follow in his footsteps."

Count on it.

"Colton Moskal," Lake Zurich football coach David Proffitt said, "is a special kid."

Moskal is another great linebacker that the Bears have produced.

Proffitt compares Moskal to former LZ linebackers Jack Lynn, Taylor Coleman, J.J. Raffelson and Brian Cihlar.

Coleman is playing for Drake, while Lynn is at Minnesota, where he is projected to start for the Golden Gophers. As a redshirt-freshman linebacker at Western Illinois last fall, Raffelson was named a finalist for the Jerry Rice Award, which is awarded annually to the most outstanding freshman player in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision. Cihlar played for Valparaiso.

"Those guys took me under their wing," Moskal said. "They taught me the way of Lake Zurich football and how to play linebacker. I owe a lot to them."

"He possesses the same things as Jack Lynn did -- Taylor Coleman, J.J. Raffelson, Brian Cihlar," Proffitt said of Moskal, a Daily Herald All-Area linebacker last season after piling up 93 tackles, including 6 sacks, and recovering 3 fumbles for the Class 7A state semifinalists. "Those guys all had that great love for the game, respect for the game and were great team players. They were willing to play anywhere we wanted them if the need presented itself."

Moskal chose Syracuse after considering more than a dozen other scholarship offers, including those from Minnesota, Cincinnati, New Mexico, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan. Yale was also interested. He attended Syracuse's Spring Game at the spectacular Carrier Dome in New York and committed to the Orangemen following the high school year.

"I started building friendships with the other commits that they had, and me and the coaches just hit it off," Moskal said. "My relationship with the coaches was better than I had with all the other schools. I just felt comfortable there."

The high school defensive star will play college football for a great defensive mind. Scott Shafer, who's considered one of the top defensive coaches in college football, was named Syracuse's head coach after Doug Marrone took the Buffalo Bills' head job. Shafer had been Syracuse's defensive coordinator since 2009.

Along with linebackers coach Clark Lea, former Wheaton-Warrenville South and Western Michigan star QB Tim Lester helped recruit Moskal to Syracuse. Lester, who last fall coached Elmhurst College to its first NCAA playoff appearance and was named the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin coach of the year, is Syracuse's QB coach/recruiting coordinator. While at Elmhurst, Lester coached former Lake Zurich standout Jon Janus, so he was familiar with the Bears' program and their success.

"That definitely helped," Moskal said.

Moskal, a hard hitter with speed, scored a 26 on his ACT and is an A student. He might focus on physical therapy or engineering in college. Older brother Blake, who played outside linebacker alongside Colton two years ago, is studying pharmacy at Butler. Blake and Colton's brother Logan is 11 and likely another future LZ football player.

"Very good instincts and a student of the game," Proffitt said of Colton, 17. "He studies film constantly. ... He's gotten real fast."

He had a great role model.

•Follow Joe Aguilar on Twitter: @JoeAguilar64

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