There wasn’t one reason why West High senior Sam McLeran changed his mind less than a month after verbally committing to play football at Northern Iowa.
It was just a feeling. On Friday, McLeran decided on South Dakota, instead.
“I felt I kind of rushed into it and made a mistake,” McLeran said. “At South Dakota, the feeling there is awesome. It just clicked a little more at South Dakota.”
The second team all-state left tackle ended his season at 6-3, 275 pounds after weighing in at 195 pounds as a sophomore.
McLeran really took to weight training, and he was excited by what the Coyotes offered in that area.
“I like the strength coach there,” McLeran said. “He has a great attitude. He said you’re going to be a redshirt freshman, and we want you in there pounding weights.”
McLeran said it wasn’t anything that Northern Iowa lacked but just a better feeling with South Dakota, located in Vermillion, S.D.
“I want to thank Northern Iowa for believing in me,” McLeran said.
He said the call to UNI coach Mark Farley was difficult. He committed to the Panthers on Dec. 14.
“It was kind of an interesting moment,” McLeran said. “It was one of those times you have to step up to the plate, grow up. He was understanding. It wasn’t anything they did. They were awesome. South Dakota was just the place for me.”
McLeran, who built himself from a skinny backup tight end to a big left tackle, also had an offer from Western Illinois. He had drawn interest from Iowa State and Iowa.
“At the end of the day, it’s a little farther for my parents to drive,” McLeran said. “But we talked about it. I’m there to be in the weight room, in class and to make grades. And there to play football. Their campus and field there is a little higher energy and feel. I like that a lot.”
McLeran joins new South Dakota coach Joe Glenn, who was hired Dec. 5. Glenn returns to his alma mater after a six years stint at Wyoming where he went 30-41. He also coached at Montana, Northern Colorado and Doane.