Southwest lineman, Paasch, verbally commits to NIU
By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – The wait is over for Thomas Paasch.
The Green Bay Southwest junior offensive lineman recently verbally committed to play football at Northern Illinois University (NIU) in DeKalb.
At 6-foot-6 and 280 pounds, Paasch, who also had interest from Big Ten schools Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin, said he was relieved the recruiting process was over.
“The recruiting process was fun, but I’m also glad it’s done,” he said. “It’s a relief to move on and concentrate on football and getting better. Now I can focus on one school. The stressful part of recruiting is over.”
With interest from other bigger Division I schools, Paasch said he didn’t want to wait for an offer that might never come.
“NIU felt right,” he said. “Sure, those other (bigger) schools showed interest, but I wasn’t about to pass up an offer I truly wanted in NIU. If you don’t go with your gut feeling and end up waiting for another offer, it could come back to bite you.”
Paasch, a left tackle for the Trojans, who finished 1-8 last season, said his decision came down to three schools.
“I was debating between NIU, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan,” he said. “I visited all three. I was planning on waiting, but when I was on the phone with NIU, I wanted to commit right there. I said, ‘Why not?’ It’s a place I wanted to be.”
Paasch said the distance from Green Bay to Eastern (7.5 hours) and Western (5.5 hours) compared to NIU (3.5 hours) didn’t play a major factor in his decision.
“Yeah, NIU is a bit closer, but Eastern and Western are close, too, relatively speaking,” he said. “Because I committed to NIU, though, it will be easier for my family to attend my games. I’m excited about that.”
Paasch also had Division I offers from Ball State, Fordham, Kansas, Illinois State, North Dakota State and South Dakota, among others.
Paasch said NIU has him projected as a tackle or guard.
“I’m not sure what the plan is quite yet, but most offensive linemen redshirt their first season,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to learn the system, work on technique and get bigger and stronger. I’m hoping to play early in my college career.”
Paasch said he has plenty to work on between now and his senior season at Southwest.
“I want to keep developing,” he said. “Me two months ago is completely different from me now. If I can keep progressing at the same rate, then it will work out well.”
Still not sure what he wants to study at NIU, Paasch currently has a core class grade-point average of 3.6.
“I’ve got a little time to decide (what I want to study), but maybe something in sports management,” he said. “The other half of me isn’t sure.”
Thomas is the son of Andy and Melissa Paasch.