BY DAN STICKRADT
CLARKSTON — Two years ago, Ian Eriksen abided his time as a sophomore back-up running back down on the depth chart. Last fall, the Clarkston High School two-sport standout had a breakthrough junior campaign, finishing as Michigan’s leading rusher on the prep football scene while earning All-State accolades as a sprinter in track and field.
Now, with one high school year left on his horizon, he made his collegiate decision over the weekend. Eriksen committed to Eastern Michigan University for football, where he hopes to continue the Eagles’ rebuilding track. He can sign his NCAA letter-of-intent in November.
“It’s nice to get all of the recruiting out of the way before my senior year,” said Eriksen, who is considering majoring in business.
“I really like everything about Eastern Michigan and the coaching staff has done a great job rebuilding that program. I would like to be part of that,” continued Eriksen. “Coach (Mike) Hart, the running backs coach, had a great career at Michigan and in the NFL and really wants to work with me. I think it’s a great fit for me. Coach Hart knows what it takes for a running back to be successful.”
Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Grand Valley State, Iowa and Michigan State were some of the other schools that had recruited Eriksen.
Currently standing at 5-foot-10 and around 190 pounds, Eriksen rushed for 34 touchdowns and one kick return for another score during the 2012 high school season, compiling a single-season school record 2,164 yards along the way. He earned All-State First Team honors by several publications, as well as All-OAA Red Division, All-North Oakland Area and All-Oakland County after his dominating season.
Clarkston finished 11-1 behind Eriksen and host of other college prospects, going 7-0 in OAA Red Division play, winning a district championship and reaching the Division 1 regional finals.
The Wolves were ranked No. 1 in the state for more than a month last season and will enter this season as one of the favorites for the Division 1 state crown.
“We are really looking forward to the season. We felt like we didn’t play that well (against Rockford in the regional finals). We have been working hard ever since,” offered Eriksen. “I think we would love nothing more than to (contend) for the state championship.”
Although a dominant football player, Eriksen also had a breakout season in track this past spring. While many of his colleagues took the spring off to work out just for football, Eriksen emerged as one of the state’s better sprinters. He qualified for two events for the D-1 state finals, the 200 meters and the 1,600-meter relay.
Eriksen placed sixth in the state in the 200 to earn All-State accolades, while his 1,600 relay quartet finished 10th at state, two rungs away from an All-State medal.
His track season has not yet come to a close, as he is training with the Elite Performance Track Club and also spending time with a private trainer with Athletic Edge.
Eriksen has also qualified for the Junior Nationals in track, which we be held in North Carolina in late July. He will compete in the 400-meter relay, 1,600-meter relay and 200 meters.
“I have been working really hard on my speed and track is the best thing for that,” noted Eriksen. “I actually love to run.”
The highly-sought-after-Eriksen is the fourth Clarkston football player to commit during the month of July, all to Division I colleges. Linemen Nick Mattich (Western Michigan) and David Beedle (Michigan State) and cornerback Tim Cason (Western Michigan) have also pledged their allegiance to other schools.
“I can’t tell you how hard the guys have worked,” said Eriksen. “We all have the same goals in mind and are doing what it takes to succeed.”
Clarkston has reached the Final Four in football three times, including 1999, 2000 and 2009. The Wolves have never played in a state championship game.
“We hope to change that,” concluded Eriksen.
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