Justin Azure

Waseca offensive lineman Justin Azure signs his national letter of intent to play at the University of Minnesota, Duluth in the fall. Azure started for two years for the Bluejays. (Nick Gerhardt/Waseca County News)

Waseca offensive lineman Justin Azure found a perfect fit with the University of Minnesota, Duluth and signed his national letter of intent Wednesday at Waseca High School to play for the Bulldogs in the fall.

Azure garnered plenty of awards during his time with the Bluejays football team as a two-starter. He earned Big South Offensive Lineman of the Year and got named to the Minnesota High School All-Star Game. Azure couldn’t play in the game due to injury but those on the team still voted for him as a captain for the South team.

“I’ve always liked Duluth my whole life,” Azure said. “I’ve always liked going up there and spending time on vacation with my family. I decided to tour campus because they have the type of engineering I want to go into, which is chemical engineering. I liked the location, I liked the campus a lot. Football was always a plus to college. It wasn’t a necessity.” During the signing ceremony Waseca football head coach Brad Wendland described Azure as a player who evolved throughout his career.

“When he was a freshman, he wasn’t a stud,” Wendland said. “He really matured and fell in love with competing.”

Azure played an integral role in a senior class that achieved the most wins of any class in Waseca history. The Bluejays advanced to the Class 4A semifinals in 2018 and earned a return trip to the Class 3A state tournament in 2019. It was the game against St. Paul Academy/Minnehaha Academy/Blake, which captured the 2018 Class 4A state title, that helped fuel Azure to get better.

“We played a really good team and that’s when I realized I had to get better and step up my game a little bit to compete with everyone,” he said.

Azure made a commitment to the weight room and added 15 pounds of muscle going into his junior year and another 15 pounds going into his senior year, he said.

“I like the strength program here a lot,” Azure said. “I think it’s pretty successful as long as you put in the work and stay consistent.”

Azure received a partial scholarship to play at UMD and expects to remain as an offensive line after the Bulldogs finished 8-3 last season. UMD claimed a Division-II national title back in 2010 and 2008.

“I like the coaches a lot because the majority of them have been coaching at UMD for a long time or they played at UMD,” Azure said. “I like the program because they’re fairly successful.”

Azure cast a dominating presence on the Waseca offensive line because of his pass and run blocking abilities.

“He’s strong enough to move people in the run game and create big holes for our running backs and he’s athletic enough and strong enough in the pass game to defend really good athletes,” Wendland said. “That was 100 percent developed.”

Azure became the latest Bluejays football player to extend their playing career into college. Waseca has sent at least one player on to the college level the past four years. Last season Hunter Rodriguez and Matt Oslem committed to St. Cloud State. Azure’s the first offensive lineman since Joel Miller to play collegiately.

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