For Payton Shafer, it feels like yesterday that he committed to South Dakota State University. It wasn't yesterday though, it was on June 23, 2018.
Throughout the last six months, Shafer completed his final season of Park football for him. On Tuesday morning, Shafer signed his National Letter of Intent to officially become a Jackrabbit next fall.
"It's a really good feeling [to sign today]," Shafer said. "It's been a long journey since sophomore year and it's a dream that came true today."
Shafer was a captain for Park football this past season and was a leader for the Wolfpack defense as one of the linebackers. Even though his high school football career is over, Shafer will never forget where he came from and the growth he made during these four years.
He started his football career during his sophomore year when he made the varsity team. Since then, Shafer has continued to ask questions and grow both on and off the field as a football player, student and Cottage Grove community member.
"I couldn't have done this without the help of my parents, friends, teachers and the overall community," Shafer said. "I can't wait to continue sharing my journey as a football player with them once I head to South Dakota State."
It was a day to remember for Shafer as he signed his letter on Wednesday morning and called his Jackrabbits coaches to confirm his commitment to South Dakota State. On the phone, Shafer was laughing and smiling as he talked about his future with college and football.
The main reason Shafer decided to become a Jackrabbit was due to the family aspect of the team. The coaches have been sending letters to him throughout the past year and the South Dakota State players have been staying in touch to answer any questions and welcome him to the team.
"Family is very important to me and the coaches at South Dakota State made me feel welcome to the family," Shafer said. "I've already been talking to my class that will be freshman next fall and it's been fun."
As for his jersey number, Shafer said he's hoping to keep the No. 9 on the back of his jersey. It's been the number he's worn throughout his football career.
He's not entirely sure on what his major will be in college as he's interested in agronomy and business. Shafer joked that he has a lot of time to figure out his major.
"It's a fun day and I can't wait to represent Park as an alumni next year at South Dakota State," Shafer said. "I'm just going to enjoy today and I can't wait to be a Jackrabbit."