Though he had known for a while, Andrew Stelter decided to keep his thoughts to himself, out of earshot of a group of men with hours and hours of time invested in the Owatonna senior defensive lineman.
On Saturday, while attending a recruiting barbecue on the campus of the University of Minnesota, Stelter informed Gophers football coach Jerry Kill that come the fall of 2014, Stelter would suit up in maroon and gold.
“I had pretty much decided two or three weeks ago when I was up there for a tour and hung out with the guys and walked around campus with Kill,’ Stelter said. “That was when I decided that I’m ready to commit. So I watied for the barbecue to come around and committed.”
At 3:19 p.m. Saturday, Stelter, after informing Kill and his staff, announced his decision to the world, tweeting, “Just committed to the University of Minnesota! So thankful! #gogophers” from his account (@Steltz_78).
That proclamation has basically ended a recruiting process that, had he chosen to wait, could have become crazy. Instead, Stelter completed his plan of deciding on his future before his final high school football season became the present.
“That was my plan going in, to finish the whole thing and focus on this year and winning a state championship,” Stelter said.
With Iowa State and Northern Illinois among other teams to have formally extended a scholarship — and with Wisconsin, Michigan State and Stanford among others with serious interest — Stelter could have possibly picked up offers from more prestigious programs. But a recent visit to Stanford actually worked against the Cardinal and the rest of the field.
“Stanford was really fun, I enjoyed my time out in California,” Stelter said. “It’s a great place to be and visit, the weather was perfect. I guess it helped me make my decision because Minnesota is home and it helped me put that in perspective and it made the decsion more clear.”
Of course, Minnesota was considered the favorite all along, something Stelter has said in the past, and something he reiterated Sunday.
“Home state, that weighs pretty heavy in their favor, and I have the best relationship with the (coaches) up there, more than any other school I’ve talked to,” Stelter said.
The relationship with Kill and the rest of the Gophers staff extended beyond the player and into the family.
“For both of us (as parents), the coaching staff was huge in him making his decision, the gentlemen that they are. They’re the real deal. And we’re very comfortable with his decision to work with those guys,” said Adele Stelter, Andrew’s mother, referencing her husband, Kevin.
“I think we’re excited that he’s going to be 65 miles from home. It makes it a lot easier to see him,” Kevin said. “If he had gone to Stanford or Michigan State or whatever, that throws a little bit of a wrench into going to see him every Saturday. Now, we can zip up the freeway and be there in an hour.”
And though it’s done, the whole recruiting process was a chance for the family to spend some time together and do some travelling they might not have otherwise done.
“We’ve had a lot of fun, and we’ve gotten to see a lot of great places,” Kevin said. “We went to Notre Dame last year with the 7-on-7 kids, and, this year, we’ve been to Iowa State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Northern Illinois, been to three or four Gopher games. It’s been a fun ride with a trip to Chicago for the Nike Camp. We’ve done a lot of things and had a lot of good experiences.”
With his choice made, Stelter can now focus on his senior season in Owatonna. Stelter said he was not given any special instruction from Kill on how to navigate his final year of high school, saying only that Kill wants Stelter to have “a great senior season.” And, really, that means more than just on the football field.
“I plan on playing basketball and going out for track,” Stelter said.
“He’d better be going through the track season,” Kevin, the boys track coach at OHS, said with a laugh. “But I really think the program (at Minnesota), I don’t think they want to limit kids, they want kids that are competing (year round).”
That competition could still be coming Stelter’s way off the field as well. Stelter can’t sign his National Letter of Intent to play at Minnesota until February, meaning coaches from other programs could still try and persuade the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Stelter to open his recruitment once again.
So, what if, say, Stanford or Notre Dame does come calling with an offer in hand?
“No,” Stelter said. “I’m committed to Minnesota.”
Reach sports editor Kyle Stevens at 444-2374, or follow him on Twitter.com @OPPKyle.