Greendale's Ericksen Catching on Fast

Wide receiver Ben Ericksen should receive plenty of Division 1 offers in the coming weeks, while several other Greendale players are getting attention from D-2 schools.

%%MATCH_3%% wants to get bigger and stronger. But the 6-foot-1-inch, 175-pounder hopes to grow even more in his knowledge of the game and the position of wide receiver.

Arguably the best ball catcher in the state, Ericksen is relatively young in football years, not having played before his freshman season at Greendale High School, and that was at quarterback.

He got sporadic game experience as a receiver as a sophomore and then started to blossom last year, hauling in 34 passes for 780 yards and 10 touchdowns. The quick, speedy Ericksen then elevated his play even more this fall in helping the Panthers reach the Division 3 quarterfinals and finish with a 10-2 record.

Ericksen grabbed 49 balls for 935 yards and 16 touchdowns during the regular season in Coach Rob Stoltz's spread offensive attack and added 17 receptions for 388 yards and three scores in three postseason contests. All of that despite facing double coverage much of the time.

Those numbers and his potential to be that much better have college recruiters knocking on his door, and the attention should intensify during the coming weeks as people evaluate his game tapes.

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South Dakota already has offered him a scholarship, while North Dakota State, %%MATCH_6%%, %%MATCH_5%% and %%MATCH_4%% could follow suit in the near future. Big Ten schools %%MATCH_9%% and %%MATCH_7%% as well as %%MATCH_10%% have expressed interest, and Bret Bielema's Badgers know all about him after Ericksen clocked a 4.49 40-yard dash at their camp in July.

"He's still learning, so the upside is huge," Stoltz said. "He made tremendous progress between his sophomore and junior years and made even more from last year to this season. He is fast out of his breaks and challenges defenders for the ball. He would have had even better numbers, but they often played bracket coverages over the top, so we threw to somebody else or ran the ball. I've already had a couple of recruiters tell me that Ben is the best wide receiver in %%MATCH_8%% or Minnesota, and they don't need to impress me."

Those accolades obviously have Ericksen, who expects to study finance, excited about his prospects, although he's not taking anything for granted.

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"I've improved the most in my route running and gotten a lot better at getting off the line and away from bump and run coverage," Ericksen said. "I've gained a lot of experience in the slot and out wide. I've had a lot of success in only two full years of football, but I want to get stronger and faster."

To that end, Ericksen will concentrate on power lifting and gaining weight, at least until track season, where he also excelled last year despite not having much of a background in the sport. He finished third at state in D-1 in the long jump (22-7).

Ericksen, a finalist for the state's Gatorade Player of the Year award, and Stolz have sent out a lot of film, so it should only be a matter of time before much more attention and several more offers come along.

"Everybody we've heard back from said they've been impressed, but most of the feedback has been from smaller schools because the bigger programs are still busy with their seasons," Ericksen said. "Football comes easy for me and my goal is to go pro, but I know I've got a lot more to learn. I want to work hard at becoming the best student-athlete I can. I don't want a school to wish they had recruited somebody else. I want them to say, ‘Wow, it's nice to have him on our team.'

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"I want to have as many choices as possible," Ericksen said about potential suitors. "You don't want to jump to fast and miss out on something, and you don't want to wait too long because that will be too nerve-racking and you start playing the what-if game. But I do want to go where I can on the field right away."

That could happen quickly in Ericksen's case.

Also on the radar

Several other Greendale seniors are getting looks, mainly from Division II programs in Minnesota:

Defensive end and tight end Lucas Pohlman (6-4, 220), a first-team offensive performer.

Wide receiver and defensive back Mike Picciolo (5-8, 175), a first-team choice both ways.

Offensive lineman and defensive end Andrew Thompson (6-31/2, 225), also a two-way first-teamer.


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