By BRAD SALMEN
Dassel-Cokato senior quarterback Sanders Asplin will be attending St. John’s University (MN) to continue his football career.
St. John’s, located in Collegeville MN, is an NCAA Division III school with a storied history of football success. The Johnnies have won four national championships, including two D III titles (1976 and 2003) under coach John Gagliardi. The Gagliardi Trophy is awarded to the outstanding Division III Player.
Last fall, St John’s advanced to the Division III semifinals, losing to Whitewater 35-32.
Asplin’s list of bona fides is long. Consider:
• As a wide receiver, he has the most receptions in a game, the most receptions in a season, and is the second all-time leading receiver in DC history – despite playing quarterback his senior season.
• He was a four-year starter as a kicker and punter, and finished as the all-time leading scorer as a placekicker.
• After playing wide receiver in his sophomore and junior seasons, Asplin stepped in at quarterback last year to lead the most prolific offense in DC history (4,571 yards) all the way to the Class AAA state title game. He finished with 953 yards rushing, and 891 yards passing (1,844 total yards from scrimmage).
Those numbers caught the eye of a number of NCAA Division III teams throughout the region, with several expressing serious interest.
But Asplin wasn’t seriously considering playing football at the next level until the Johnnies came calling.
Asplin was well aware of the St. John’s program. His head coach, Ryan Weinandt, was a graduate of the program, and the Johnnies have a large number of DC grads counted as alumni. Not to mention, he and other Charger players have attended different St. John’s football camps throughout high school.
Nevertheless, he was still undecided when the Johnnies invited him to a tour in January. There, he got to sit down with head coach Gary Fasching and his coordinators to talk football.
“[St. John’s] has had a lot of success throughout the decades, and it seems like a fun atmosphere to be around,” said Asplin. “Overall from what I have seen, they form a brotherhood that is like nothing I have seen before, and it interested me to see what it would like to go there.”
The visit cemented Asplin’s decision to attend St. John’s, and play football.
The coaching staff discussed having him start on special teams (kicking and punting), and moving into offensive positioning.
Weinandt said St. John’s will be not only be getting a top-notch athlete they can put in anumber of different positions, but a high character young man.
“Sanders never complained about moving to QB, or anything else for that matter. He spent countless hours preparing himself by lifting weights, watching films, and doing whatever was needed to be successful,” said Weinandt. “More importantly, he impressed me as a person, competitor, and leader.”
Asplin said he plans on pursuing an accounting degree, and eventually becoming a CPA like his two older brothers.