Dylan Axelson, the Woodinville captain and KingCo 4A Defensive Player of the Year, is going to be a Washington State Cougar. He'll join the team this fall as a preferred walk-on.
"If I'm going to play college football, I want to play at the highest level possible." Axelson said.
Coming off a season where he led the Falcons to the State quarterfinals, he first took a recruiting trip to Eastern Washington University, who offered him a chance to walk on.
"When I went down and visited Eastern. I was surprised," Axelson said. "I liked it a lot more than I was expecting to. Every time we had been to camps there all the students were gone and it was just us players. So me and my buddies got the impression nobody went there. But I visited with a couple other recruits during school, and it was a much different environment, and it was good."
Axelson, who stands at 5'11" and 205 pounds, also noticed a discrepancy.
"Eastern wanted me to play at inside backer," he said. "When I was there I met a bunch of their inside backers and they are all a lot bigger than me. I didn't see myself beating out guys who are thirty pounds heavier and three inches taller than me."
But then came his trip to Pullman and Washington State University.
"I was so impressed by everything there and that environment," Axelson said. "Me and my dad talked about not getting caught up in the bling and all the Pac-12 level of equipment and facilities. But I noticed some of it and the first thing was I could see myself going there. Then I had lunch with middle linebacker Peyton Pelluer and we talked about the school. I also hung out with some friends of mine that go there. I have always been about the big school feel and I want to play at the highest level. So I'm going to WSU."
According to Axelson, the WSU coaches want him to play nickel linebacker, like current player Parker Henry. But Axelson has also heard some recent developments.
"Apparently the running back coach got a hold of my film and he's arguing with the defensive coaches about which side of the ball to put me on," he said. "The running back coach wants me to play at H-Back, and the defensive coaches want me at nickel linebacker. In any case, I will start off on special teams, and then I will take whatever opportunity I can to get on the field."
In looking back at a senior season where the Falcons went deep in the State playoffs, Axelson was asked what he took from the experience.
"We weren't as big as half the teams we played, and we weren't as skilled as half the teams we played," he said. "But the entire senior class got into grind mode, and we were in the weight room every day working hard. We almost beat the State champs [Gonzaga Prep] in the quarterfinals, and in my opinion we should have beaten them. So my senior year proved to me that determination and hard work can enable you to achieve anything. And if you can bring your teammates along with you it really helps."
(This article was written for the Woodinville Weekly)