South Elgin two-way lineman Jon Slania said he knew 30 minutes into last Friday's official visit to Southeast Missouri State he had arrived at his college football destination.
In fact, while browsing the bookstore of the Cape Girardeau, Mo. campus on Saturday afternoon, Slania told his father, Robert, it might be a good idea to pick up a few souvenirs, just in case.
However, they decided not to purchase any sweatshirts or hats until Jon made his verbal commitment. That came Saturday night during a meeting with head coach Tony Samuel, a 1981 Nebraska graduate who played defensive end for Tom Osborne and won two national championships as a Nebraska defensive line coach.
Slania was offered a full scholarship during the meeting and accepted immediately. He will play defensive line for the Redhawks, a Division-I program in the Ohio Valley Conference.
"When I met with coach Samuel in the hotel lobby on Saturday night, he pulled out his national championship rings," Slania said. "He's the head coach but he's also the position coach for defensive linemen and he wanted me to play for him. I knew it was the right place for me."
An all-Upstate Eight Valley selection, the 6-foot-3, 290-pound Slania was named to the Daily Herald All-Area team in the Fox Valley last fall after starting 7 games at right tackle and defensive tackle. He finished the season with 14 solo tackles, 24 assists, 4.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and 1 forced fumble.
"In 33 years of coaching I've seen a lot of linemen and he's one of the top three I've ever been around," South Elgin coach Dale Schabert said. "He works very hard and he's very dedicated to his sport. I think playing defensive tackle fits his personality. He likes getting in there and disrupting things. Now that he'll be able to concentrate on that for four years he should really develop into a good one."
Gross to Olivet Nazarene: South Elgin quarterback Zach Gross has committed to play college football at NAIA Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, South Elgin coach Dale Schabert said.
Gross, who also started at defensive back as a junior, will play quarterback for the Tigers. As a senior last fall, he was the Fox Valley area's 15th-leading rusher and the second-leading rusher among quarterbacks. Gross ran for 544 yards in 89 attempts (6.1 avg.) and scored 6 touchdowns. He completed 55 of 136 attempts for 814 yards with 6 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.