Nate Wozniak, a 6-foot-9, 255-pound Center Grove High School tight end, picked Minnesota over Miami of Florida.
Nate Wozniak, a 6-foot-9, 255-pound Center Grove High School tight end, picked Minnesota over Miami of Florida. Wozniak was a member of the 2012 The Indianapolis Star Super team and led the Trojans to a 12-2 mark this season and a spot in the Class 5A semifinals. He had 20 catches for 331 yards and five touchdowns this past season.
Gopher Hole caught up with Center Grove High School head football coach Eric Moore to learn more about the latest Gopher commit.
Gopher Hole: What kind of player are the Gphers getting in Nate Wozniak?
Eric Moore: Pretty big dog gone kid. Great person. Division I athlete. Excellent student. Could grow to 6-11. I’ve never seen anything like it. He looks like a creature. A really solid football player. Very smart. Good technique blocker. Those people that were recruiting him could not believe that he could drop his pad level like he does and make a play in high school. Good hands. Good speed. Not excellent speed, but that will come with him growing. Just a steal.
Gopher Hole: He had eliminated Purdue last week. Was it down to Minnesota and Miami at the end?
Eric Moore: Yes, I had talked to him recently and he told me that “I think that I am going to go to Minnesota and probably commit tomorrow.” I told him to “check all your boxes” and he did. He is confident. Coach Phelps, the defensive line coach, who was recruiting him, is a young coach and an excellent recruiter. I told Coach Kill that he would be the first guy that I would hire if I was ever a college coach. He is the man. He came in right here and stole him away from Miami.
Gopher Hole: Were you surprised that Minnesota is where he is going or did you think Minnesota had a good shot?
Eric Moore: I’m definitely surprised. It is nothing against Coach Kill. He is an excellent coach. I think that Minnesota is a year or two away from being a ten win team and playing for it all. He is that good of a coach and his staff is great. I just think that he is going (into a situation) and not knowing anything about it. He has an uncle who is a trainer at Iowa State and the coach at Miami was at South Florida for 18 years, so those guys are really good friends. I’ve had several kids go to Miami, who doesn’t lose too many battles with Big Ten schools and especially one where Nate had only been there one time and to be so sold on them. He is so sold on them and the business school. Whoever talked to him about the business school did a great job of selling it. I played at Indiana and it is 25 miles down the road and is one of the best business schools in the country, regardless of football right now and he turned that down and decided that Minnesota was where he wanted to be. That is cool if you can get a kid that is so fired up to what you are doing.
Gopher Hole: He is obviously a unique kid being that tall already. Is he expected to grow even more?
Eric Moore: I know that he has an older brother who is over seven-feet tall. He grew a little bit after going to a small school here in Indiana. He wasn’t much of an athlete. He didn’t concentrate on it like Nate did. Nate has been concentrating on it and playing in my system since he was a sixth grader. He is not an offensive tackle. Everybody is calling me and asking why he wasn’t recruited by some of these people and he turned them down. In the spring, when it all started, if you said offensive line, he said no. Minnesota said that they are not going to switch him. He is not an offensive tackle. He is a little bit narrow through the hips. He’ll easily be 285 pounds, but he is not an offensive tackle. He is tight end type of kid. He is a receiver. There are schools that thought he could be spread out, a slot. It is a heck of a recruit. He is a real steal. The unique challenge he is going to give defenses.
Gopher Hole: What about him just as a kid dealing with him one-on-one?
Eric Moore: He is wonderful. A good student. There will be nobody in our school saying anything bad about him. He is a good kid. He does things the right way. You always miss big-time kids when they leave your school. I have five kids and my kids all love him. He is a very respectful kid. He is a very quiet kid. The big thing with those schools turned off him was they thought he didn’t hit, but he just doesn’t talk much.
Gopher Hole: You were 12-2 this past season, right?
Eric Moore: We made it to the Final Four. We won it in 2008 and three consecutive Final Fours. A play or two away this year and a play away last year from being a champion probably. We would have been right there. Big school, big stadium, big crowd.
Gopher Hole: You were primarily a running team as Nate had 20 catches this season. Is that the style that you have utilized being more of a running team than a passing team?
Eric Moore: I’ve coached for about 31 years and have 200 wins, so you tell me. I don’t always get those type of kids, so I just take what I got. We are a Wing-T offense and he was a great tight end in a Wing-T offense. He can get down right dirty and run block. I know that there is not a coach in America who does not want you to do that. It is easy to teach them how to run a route. It is hard to teach them to be tough and run block. He can run block.
Gopher Hole: What were some of the other schools besides Minnesota, Miami and Purdue that he were involved with him?
Eric Moore: Anybody who looked at him was involved. People come in like IU, Cincinnati, Louisville and all the local big schools like Michigan State. Iowa State really went after him hard. His uncle is a trainer at Iowa State. I know that Miami and Purdue, not as much Purdue because they changed staffs, but Miami and Minnesota were two schools that never mentioned offensive line to him and that was one of the big things because he wants to be a tight end. He might be a 300-pound tight end, but he doesn’t want to be an offensive lineman.
Gopher Hole: Does he play any other sports at Center Grove?
Eric Moore: He played basketball, but he didn’t play this year because of the recruiting. He may start playing again. I don’t know. He might talk to the coaches today and say that I am ready to come back before the tournament starts. That would be a huge addition for them. I don’t know. I am going to try to get him back involved in track this spring. He is a good weight lifter. A big-time weight lifter.
Gopher Hole: Were you familiar with Coach Kill and his staff before? Had they recruited any of your kids before?
Eric Moore: I spoke at the Illinois State clinic one year when he was coaching at Sotuhern Illinois or somewhere down there and I have always admire the job that he has done. He does a great job. I hope that his health works out for him. I have always followed Coach Kill. He is everything that a high school coaches like. He has worked himself up. He is a great guy and I’ll tell you, Coach Phelps may be the best recruiter I have been around in 31 years. He just does a great job. They have a marvelous staff.