Sam Sura and Shaquille Theus don’t officially begin their college football careers at St. John’s and St. Cloud State until mid-August.
But they, along with several of their future teammates, are getting a sneak preview of things to come this week.
Sura, a running back from South St. Paul, is one of seven players in this week’s state prep football all-star game who have decided to play for the Johnnies next season.
Theus, a defensive back from Coon Rapids, is one of two players in this week’s game who have committed to play for the Huskies.
Both the North and South all-star teams have spent this week practicing in Collegeville in preparation for the game itself, which will be played at 1 p.m. Saturday at Husky Stadium.
So both Sura and Theus are getting the chance to experience their future home facilities first-hand.
“It’s been awesome,” said Sura, a 5-foot-11, 185-pounder who rushed for 1,675 yards and 22 touchdowns while earning St. Paul Pioneer Press player of the year honors last fall.
“I’ve been able to meet a lot of the other guys who are coming here next year too. I’ve gotten a really nice feel for the whole campus and for life here. It’s been a great atmosphere.”
In addition to Sura, the other future Johnnies in Saturday’s game are South St. Paul defensive back Reid Bjorklund, New Ulm Cathedral defensive back Nick Simon, Paynesville multi-purpose offensive threat Josh Bungum, Albany offensive/defensive lineman Ben Eli, Cook County Dylan Quaife and Ogilvie offensive lineman Doug Welch.
Sura, Bjorklund and Simon will play for the South team. Bungum, Eli, Quaife and Welch are members of the North roster.
“It’s felt like I’m starting college already in a way,” said Simon, a two-time all-conference pick in high school. “It’s been nice to be here all week getting a feel for the campus. It gives me a head start on finding out where things are before I come back in the preseason.”
Theus, meanwhile, is one of two future Huskies who will play in Saturday’s game. He is joined on the North roster by Spring Lake Park defensive back Noah Waiwaiolei. A third St. Cloud State recruit, Shakopee linebacker Nicholas McBeain, was selected to play in the game and is participating in the training camp this week, but will not play Saturday due to injury.
“I’ve played (at Husky Stadium) once before in a lacrosse game,” Theus said. “But I’m looking forward to actually playing a football game there. It’s a place I’m going to be spending a lot of time at in the next four years.”
For both the St. John’s and St. Cloud State recruits, one of the best parts about this week has been the chance to get to know future teammates.
“Shaquille is a heckuva player and he and I have become pretty good friends already this week,” said Waiwaiolei, a two-time all-conference pick who led his team in both tackles and interceptions as a junior. “It’s nice to know that we’re going to be playing together for the next four years.”
“It’s been really fun getting to know all the other guys,” said Bjorklund, a two-time all-conference pick.
“Obviously, I know Sura pretty well. But he’s been rooming with Simon, so the three of us have hung out together a lot. We’ve been getting to know each other. It’s going to be nice to come in when practice starts already knowing a few guys.”
The seven all-stars is the largest number of incoming St. John’s recruits in the game since nine took part in 1997.
“That’s nice to see,” Sura said. “It means we’re going to have a pretty good St. John’s team for the next few years. There are a lot of talented guys coming in as part of this year’s freshmen class.”
With the coaching staffs at both schools expected to observe at least some of the proceedings first-hand this week, all the future Johnnies and Huskies have been hoping to make a good impression.
“I’ve talked with the defensive backs coach (and also defensive coordinator Jim Louis) and I think he’ll be there Saturday,” Theus said. “I’d love to make some big plays and let the coaches see what I’m capable of. Everybody always wants to make a good first impression.”
Annandale defensive back Cole Gauldin has also been added to the North roster as a replacement player for Saturday’s game.