The format was more akin to a press conference, but six Bishop Dwenger athletes were able to fulfill their dreams of signing with college programs May 20. Four football players, one softball player and a football manager signed college letters while maintaining safe distances from media, classmates and coaches to avoid spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Senior Brianna Yager signed to continue her softball career at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan.
“It’s definitely not the signing I was planning for, being in quarantine and the whole coronavirus, but it’s a really cool opportunity that Dwenger put this together for me,” Yager, the first of the afternoon’s signees, said.
Although she didn’t get to have a senior season due to the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s decision to cancel spring sports this year, Yager helped the Saints win Class 3A sectional and regional titles in 2019.
When it came time to consider college programs, Yager had initially leaned toward Ave Maria University in Florida, before changing her mind during an overnight visit to Adrian.
“After meeting all the girls on my overnight, I just immediately fell in love — with the campus, with the girls, with everything,” Yager said.
Adrian has both a junior varsity and a varsity softball program. Through discussions with the teams’ coaches, Yager expects to get some varsity experience during her first year in college.
“They do see me playing some varsity this year so I’ll be playing outfield wherever they kind of need me,” she said. “And I will continue slapping for hitting, and we’ll go from there.”
Yager plans to study athletic training.
While a typical college signing is between a player and the school they’ve committed to, Dwenger senior Jacob Zuber has been an integral part of the Saints’ football program over the past three years. Last week, he signed to continue his efforts as head equipment manager at University of Saint Francis.
“(Dwenger) is a great football program. I’m glad I got to be a part of it for all three years of being an equipment manager,” Zuber said. “A lot of people don’t know what football managing is, but you get a lot of respect from people for doing this. I got to go to state with the Dwenger football team, and that was just a big step.”
Zuber said the opportunity to join the Cougars was a blessing: “I’m glad I get to stay here. I wouldn’t go anywhere else. … It’s very exciting that I’m going to be on that football team and be recognized for what I do. It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m going to put my mind to it and get it done.”
Zuber plans to study sports management with hopes of eventually taking his talents to the NFL.
“I’ve heard great things about the Colts, and I would love to pursue my dreams there next,” he said. “I’m still trying to figure out what my role would be.”
Football player Griffin Eifert had offers from other schools, but none of them compared to Notre Dame. Though the process was slow due to the current pandemic, he passed on an invitation from Purdue last summer before accepting a preferred walk-on offer from the Irish.
Eifert said Notre Dame’s traditions remind him of his time at Dwenger. He also grew close to the program after watching his oldest brother and current NFL tight end Tyler Eifert play there for four years.
“Seeing Tyler go through there and the connections he made and the friendships he got from that was pretty special,” he said.
As a senior wide receiver in 2019, Eifert recorded 478 yards on 30 receptions, scoring seven touchdowns.
As a walk-on, Eifert won’t receive a scholarship at least for the first year, but he expects his hard work to pay off.
“(Tyler) said the first year’s going to be difficult, and I know that just from watching him go through it,” he said. “I know he really struggled, so just bracing for it from the beginning and knowing that it’s going to be difficult and just accepting it I think is a big help.”
Griffin’s other brother Grady started his college basketball career as a walk-on at Purdue before working his way up to a starting position — an example Griffin hopes to apply during his time with the Irish.
Off the field, Eifert plans to study business management.
Nolan Fischer was the first of three Bishop Dwenger football players to sign with Wabash College last week.
“Dwenger really instilled in me … that it’s brotherhood — everybody needs to play together — and that’s what I felt at Wabash,” Fischer said.
Fischer plans to continue his role as an offensive linemen with the Little Giants. He said the coaching staff liked his ability to move on the ball and keep blocking until the whistle — qualities that have been instilled in him for the past eight years.
“The coaches, it felt like they knew me my entire life and they really wanted to get to know me even more,” Fischer said. “(Offensive line coach Olmy Olmstead) is just a really great guy, and he represents the kind of atmosphere I want to have the next four years.”
Fischer plans to major in computer and electrical engineering.
Senior Alec LeShore will suit up for the Wabash football program this year as well.
“It’s truly a blessing to go to a school like Wabash,” LeShore said. “It’s a great family brotherhood and just a great community overall, and to have all my fellow peers and friends with me to share this moment is great. … They have good traditions just like Bishop Dwenger has, and they’re just a very close-knit team — they put family over each other.”
As a senior defensive tackle last year, LeShore recorded 13 total tackles and five sacks. He hopes to continue that role at Wabash.
“They see me as a pass rusher that will get out to the quarterback and will work hard for them day in and day out,” he said.
LeShore plans to study financial economics.
Senior Howie Steele signed last week to play football and run track at Wabash. Having a pair of teammates make the journey with him made the decision easy, he said.
“Playing with them for the last four years, playing against Nolan since I was in fifth grade, I know those guys pretty well. And I’ve played basketball with Alec for a really long time. Two of my good friends, to get to go down and play another four years with them, it’s pretty awesome,” he said.
As a cornerback last year, Steele recorded 40 total tackles. In track, he placed in the top 20 in the state 400-meter dash as a junior.
When it came time to choose a college, Wabash was at the top of his list right away.
“Pretty much right after my visit to Wabash, I knew how special of a place it was,” he said. “All of the people there — the coaches, the players I met there, my soon-to-be teammates — just all seemed like standup people, and I can’t wait to be part of that community.
Steele plans to study pre-law.