(WFRV) – De Pere’s Evan Heim and Seymour’s Jon Dietzen had similar goals, but took different paths to get there. Now both have a chance to compete for roster spots in the NFL after signing as undrafted free agents.
“Probably the best feeling I’ve ever had in my entire life. It was really cool, really fun, then once I told my parents, they were both freaking out,” said Evan Heim.
Over the past few years more and more former Northeast Wisconsin high school standouts took advantage of their shots in the NFL. Heim and Dietzen hope to their next.
Realizing those dreams come from the same values that helped other players make it to the league.
“I can tell you that they’re people that really give their all every single day, they’re all about consistency, and they’re all about doing the right thing all the time,” said Jon Dietzen.
Heim went to Minnesota State after his high school career with the De Pere Redbirds. In college he would go on to start 54 games for the Mavericks. Then had to sit and watch from the sidelines for the last year and a half due in part to the pandemic.
“They really turned a 17, 18-year-old kid into a 23-year-old man by the time I left. It kind of sucks that I haven’t played. At least I was able to work on a lot of different stuff, like my technique,” said Heim.
Dietzen nearly saw his football career come to an end after he retired following the 2018 season. Then he returned to the field with the Wisconsin Badgers this past fall, and worked his way towards the next goal, playing in the NFL.
Eventually being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Green Bay Packers.
“The whole thing has been kind of coming in waves, you know, right away it was unbelieveable and I struggled to wrap my head around the whole thing. As much as Green Bay means to me, I’m just excited for the opportunity,” said Dietzen.
Heim will get the same chance, but it won’t come so close to home. He is staying in the same division, though, after signing with the Detroit Lions.
“When I woke up Sunday I was like ‘gosh, I really am a Detroit Lion.’ Especially the last eight months, I wasn’t able to play anywhere. It makes me just appreciate it that much more,” said Heim.
It’s not the end of the road for the either Dietzen or Heim. Instead it’s the beginning of the next step towards making the dreams of former prep stars into NFL realities.
“It means a lot to be able to do that. Coming from a small town where not a whole lot of people have done big things. It feels awesome be part of that,” said Dietzen.