When defenders saw No. 79 of the Brainerd Warriors rumbling in their direction this fall they had to be quaking in their cleats.
If 6-foot-4, 330-pound offensive tackle Trevor McCulloch was zeroing in on an opposing player the defender was usually sprawled on his back following their collision.
McCulloch, one of 22 players named to The Brainerd Dispatch All-Area Football Team, anchored an offensive line that enabled the Warriors to win nine of 11 games and average 400.5 yards and 39.7 points.
His size and talent is attracting the interest of Division I recruiters, including Minnesota, Nebraska, Illinois and Northwestern, as well as Division II North Dakota State. Although McCulloch, who made The Associated Press all-state first team Thursday, hasn't been offered a scholarship he could begin receiving offers soon after Dec. 9 when he takes the ACT exam.
"I can't sign any letters (of intent) or do any visits until I get the score back," McCulloch said.
"I just want to go to school," he added. "If they pay for my schooling I will go there."
Chet Stevenson has coached Warriors offensive linemen for 25 seasons. He believes McCulloch is a big-time college lineman.
"We have had kids who I thought were close to Division I, like Kurt King, Barry Sorensen and Sandy Smith," Stevenson said. "Sandy was I think as close as we have ever had other than Trevor. With his size and athleticism Trevor is a definite Division I prospect."
Although McCulloch would appear to have had an easy time with the opposition because of his bulk he had to overcome obstacles to become a big-time prospect.
As a 14-month-old living in Fargo, N.D., McCulloch was run over by a car. Miraculously, the most serious injuries he suffered were a broken left arm and internal bleeding. In addition, the blow caused one of his eyes to wander.
"I was walking on a sidewalk to a neighbor's house and the neighbor's son was backing out of his driveway," said McCulloch. "I was in his blind spot. He was driving a full-size (sport-utility vehicle) and ran over me with a tire. The tire stopped on top of my chest. The only reason he stopped was he saw my dad jump out of a tree that he was cutting limbs off of. He thought my dad fell out of the tree so he stopped."
McCulloch's family moved to Brainerd when he was about 10 and he grew into one of the biggest athletes to ever wear a Warriors football or wrestling uniform. He started nearly three dozen varsity football games and is embarking upon his fourth varsity wrestling season.
Stevenson said another thing that distinguishes McCulloch as a Division I prospect is his leadership qualities.
"He's not just a big kid with a big heart," Stevenson said. "He's also a kid the entire team, not just the offensive linemen, looked to for leadership, and he provided that leadership. Trevor was kind of the verbal spokesman whenever the team got together. He has an incredible knack of drawing athletes around him and rallying them.
"The other part is his durability. We're talking about a kid who played 34 varsity games and never missed an offensive play that was crucial. Obviously, at the end of games I would pull him out and rest him. But when push came to shove Trevor was ready to play. ...
"Trevor was the kind of kid we penciled in at left tackle for three years. Those are huge shoes to fill, not just because of his playing ability, but because of the kind of kid he is."
McCulloch said he must hit the weight room in order to play at the next level. "I definitely need to get stronger, he said. "I've just got to keep working. And, I need to improve my speed."
McCulloch believes he brings more than size to the table. "I have pretty good feet but you can always improve on everything," he said.
Stevenson said McCulloch ranks as one of the best linemen he has coached just because of his versatility. We ask a lot of our personnel. Kurt King was a great drive blocker but we didn't do a lot of pulling with him. Now, when we do counter plays, we make our big people pull. Trevor does that as good as anybody I have ever coached."
McCulloch has now shifted his focus to wrestling. He must shed about 55 pounds to make the maximum weight for a heavyweight (275). Until then, McCulloch can practice but will have to sit out meets.
"I'm not going to make it too hard on myself this year," McCulloch said. "I'm going to take it easy. I'm shooting for Christmas."
He should prove to be a nice gift for the school that recruits him.
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