Like many other St. Joseph’s students, Luke Teague had his future put on hold when the college announced plans to close at the end of the school year.
The former Columbus North linebacker, who had played three years of football at St. Joseph’s, not only went looking for a place to compete his final year, he had to find somewhere that would accept his college credits. Teague found that place in Winona (Minnesota) State.
“It was definitely a tough situation,” Teague said. “It was a lot of thinking and meditation with my family and guys on the team. The hardest part for me was realizing I’m not going to get to play with those guys I’ve played with since freshman year. It was really heartbreaking for me. But God had a plan for me, and I talked with my parents, and I think I came up with the best decision I could.”
St. Joseph’s announced on Feb. 3 that it would close because of insurmountable financial challenges. Soon after, other college coaches began following St. Joseph’s players on Twitter, and a couple of Winona State coaches followed Teague.
Teague visited Arkansas Tech and Winona State before settling on Winona.
“We knew that he was going to have some interest,” said Teague’s father, Shane. “It was very interesting to go in and say, ‘He’s going to be a senior, and he’s only going to be here for one year.’ A couple of schools said, ‘We want to win now.’ The coach told us they were extremely pleased with what they found out about him, and that was very humbling for us to think about how highly everybody regarded him.”
Luke Teague was the Pumas’ starting middle linebacker the past two years and led team with 103 tackles as a junior last fall. Winona State plays a 3-4 defense, which will be a transition from St. Joseph’s 4-3 front.
So Teague, who finished May 6 at St. Joseph’s, has been at Winona State since June 6, meeting every day with the inside linebackers coach to learn both the Mike and Will inside linebacker spots. He does speed training on Mondays and Wednesdays and conditioning on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Like St. Joesph’s, Winona State is Division II school. The Warriors, coached by Tom Sawyer, play in Northern Sun Conference.
Teague is majoring in sociology, with a minor in criminal justice, but his future may remain in football. His linebackers coach and defensive coordinator from St. Joseph’s, Nubis Padhye, landed a job as defensive coordinator at Division III Beloit (Wisconsin) and wanted to know if Teague would be interested in coaching. Teague said he was, and Padhye told him he could come in and be his linebacker coach right away after graduation.
But first, Teague has one final season of putting on the pads. After being a ball boy for several years while his father was on the North coaching staff and then playing four years for the Bull Dogs and three years at St. Joseph’s, he knew he wasn’t ready to give up the sport.
“It wasn’t even a decision for me,” Teague said. “It was, ‘This is what I’m doing,’ because football has been such a big part of my life.”
Name: Luke Teague
High school: Columbus North
College: Winona State
Position: Inside linebacker
Year: Will be a senior
Minor: Criminal justice
Key stats: Led St. Joseph’s with 103 tackles as a junior last fall