The journey couldn't have been any sweeter for Dane Conwell.
The IU-bound recruit capped his prep career by leading Upper St. Clair (Penn.) H.S. to the state championship over the weekend. Upper St. Clair put an exclamation mark on its 16-0 season with a 47-13 win over Bethlehem Trinity Friday night, earning them the Class AAAA state title.
"I've played with these guys all my life," Conwell said, "so to finish it off with a state title is a dream come true."
Conwell wasn't just along for the ride over the weekend – he did a great deal of the heavy lifting. Conwell rushed for five touchdowns in a game USC led 40-0 at the end of three quarters, resulting in the "mercy rule" – or running clock – in the game's final period. The 34-point spread was the fourth-largest margin of victory in Class AAAA title game history.
"I knew before the game I was going to lay it all on the line – let it ride," Conwell said. "We came out and our offensive linemen dominated."
With his prep career now behind him, Conwell's attention will soon turn to his collegiate career in Bloomington. His team's tourney run has prevented him from taking his IU official visit yet, but he said he plans to schedule that for January. Conwell also said there's no chance he'll waver on his pledge to the Hoosiers, which he originally gave in May.
"When I say it's my word, I'm going to stick to it," Conwell said. "I don't entertain any thoughts of any other colleges."
Once he arrives in Bloomington, he's expected to figure into the Hoosiers' plans at outside linebacker. That was the IU's staff plan from the outset, and that hasn't changed despite a very big year running for the ball for the 6-1, 205-pounder.
"I'm planning to go to IU to play linebacker," Conwell said. "I'm going to Indiana for college no matter what, and I think that's their thought and I'm fine with that."
While Conwell's offensive production garnered headlines this year, he was also a standout defensively. On that side of the ball he said he had five interceptions, five sacks and scored a pair of defensive touchdowns. He used his 4.65 speed in the 40 to cause as much havoc defensively as he did offensively.
"I think I play pretty disciplined defensively," Conwell said. "I'm good in pass coverage and I can blitz and stop the run. I think I can bring a lot to the table on defense."
He'll be joining a young and improving Hoosier defense that had four players named to Sporting News' All Freshman team, including linebackers Josh Bailey and Will Patterson. Conwell said he watched most of Indiana's games on television and also made it out to Bloomington for the Hoosiers' 46-21 Homecoming win over Michigan State.
"I knew from talking to he coaches they were going in the right direction," Conwell said. "You could really see the progress they're making on the field. I believe in the program that much more, and I'm anxious to get there.
"It's a beautiful place. I really liked the school, and it's Big Ten football, and it doesn't get any better than that."
Journey Is Complete for Conwell
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