Dranka commits to North Dakota

Over the course of Brandon Dranka’s senior year, Huntley football coach John Hart wondered where all the recruiting attention was for his star defensive end.

Of the schools looking at Dranka, most were smaller programs. But deep down, Hart knew the 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior was Division I material.

Sunday proved it.

Dranka verbally committed to play football at the University of North Dakota on Sunday. Even though other D-I schools had been in touch with Dranka, the Fighting Sioux came through with the first offer.

“This is what I’ve worked for, [playing D-I football] is what has been on my mind and what’s been my mission,” Dranka said Sunday night. “I finally got to accomplish that and so it’s definitely a great moment in my life.”

NCAA rules prohibit North Dakota coaches from discussing specific recruits until they have signed a National Letter of Intent. National Signing Day is Feb. 5.

Dranka made his visit to North Dakota over the weekend and said the coaches’ message resonated with him as to what his role with the team would be.

“They want to go in a direction that I think is very healthy and I want to be a part of that,” Dranka said. “I want to be as helpful to this team as I can and hopefully help them win some championships.”

Dranka finished his senior year with an area-best 11 sacks and 51 tackles. He also forced two fumbles and recovered two more. Dranka is the second area player to travel to North Dakota in the past year. Former Cary-Grove linebacker and fullback Kyle Norberg is on the Fighting Sioux roster.

Before Sunday, the majority of Dranka’s scholarship offers had come from D-II schools. He was scheduled to make official visits in the coming weeks to Western Illinois and Southern Illinois. Hart said after Dranka had an “average” junior season, D-I schools didn’t consider him to be a prime target.

But after putting together a season that landed Dranka on The Northwest Herald first-team All-Area team, schools such as Indianapolis and South Dakota State along with Bemidji (Minn.) and Ferris (Mich.) State started to take notice.

Hart said he sent tape of Dranka playing against two of the area’s top offensive linemen and fellow D-I recruits – Cary-Grove’s Trevor Ruhland and Prairie Ridge’s Shane Evans – to bigger programs to demonstrate how much Dranka had improved since his junior year.

“He played at the highest level you can play,” Hart said Sunday. “Typically, when you have a kid who makes a great strides from one year to the next, they have some bad games or some bad series. [Dranka] really didn’t have any bad games or really a bad series.”