(WFRV) – We could be in the midst of a golden era of football in Northeast Wisconsin. At least when it comes to former high school stars getting a chance in the NFL.
Bay Port’s Alec Ingold (Las Vegas Raiders, FB), Ashwaubenon grad James Morgan (New York Jets, QB), and Green Bay Southwest grad Max Scharping (Houston Texans, G) are among those in the league right now.
Soon Cole Van Lanen and Jon Dietzen will get a chance to add their names to that list, and live out a dream of their own.
“I mean, it would mean the world. It would be something I’ve been putting in my dad’s ear since I was a little kid. Like, one day I’m going to get drafted,” said Jon Dietzen.
“A surreal moment. I haven’t been trying to think about it too much, but now the time has kind of come. Soemthing everyone dreams of, even when you’re young,” said Cole Van Lanen. “You grew up watching the Packers, and obviously that would be awesome but in rality I’m just excited for one of 32 teams to call my name.”
From the field at Bay Port High School, to Camp Randall Stadium, and now the NFL Draft; it’s been a long road for Van Lanen. A four star recruit and Army All-American out of high school, Van Lanen went on to play in more than 40 games as a member of the Badgers offensive line.
“Time goes by fast. You never forget running out of, like we run out of the helmet, I’ll never forget it. I’ll never forget playing under those Friday night lights. That’s something you’ll never forget. And then I was obviulsy blessed to go to Wisconsin, and those are memories I’ll never forget either. It jsut went by so fast. I’ll cherish that forever,” said Van Lanen.
Van Lanen learned plenty of lessons playing for the Pirates and Badgers. One of the biggest has to be versatility.
“Really being that guy that can play all five positions is really improtant, and taht’s somethign teams take into consideration. You don’t have enough for a back-up for everyone on the line. So, having a guy who can play all the poitions is pretty important.I kind of take pride in it,” said Van Lanen.
The Badgers offensive line room, from tackle to guard, has seen plenty of success in the league. So, of course Van Lanen won’t be the only Wisconsin lineman hoping for a chance at the NFL this year.
Enter Seymour native Jon Dietzen, who retired from football in early 2019 due to injuries, only to return to the field in 2020. Then once again becoming a big contributor alongside Van Lanen at guard.
“I’ve had life without football. It’s not that fun. I want to be doing everything in my power tog make sure I can still play football, and keep doing what I love to do,” said Dietzen.
“I was stoked to come back last year. I know how much pain he was in and stuf when he did retire. For him to be able to come back and play football again at a high level. i was already stoked for him, and now that he’s gettign his shot towards the NFL I really do hope someone gives him a shot,” said Van Lanen.
Like any draft pick, Dietzen and Van Lanen are just looking for a chance. Van Lanen will most likely hear his name called on day three of the draft. The undrafted free agent route is more likely for Dietzen, at least according to the mock drafts, but still the opportunity to make an NFL roster will be there.
“I’m not going to let them down. I’m going to go out there and give them everythign I got Given that I have retired, I kind of have the unique experience where I’ve seen life without football. I’m going to do everything I can to keep play,” said Dietzen.