From Sports Page 1

his finger on what wasn’t quite right.

“We would get in the van on the way home and he would say that something was missing,” Susan Grand said. “Well, what is missing?” She would ask him. “I don’t know,” Max Grand would say. “Everywhere we would go, something would be missing,” Susan Grand said.

For Susan Grand, she began to expect that something was always going to be missing and the hard part was that she didn’t even know what was missing from each school. She spoke about getting into the van after the visit to Minnesota.

“We went to Minnesota and we got in the van and I’m like, ‘OK…’ and he said, ‘Nothing is missing. It feels right and it’s perfect.’” Susan Grand recalled.

Whatever it was that was missing from so many schools, Minnesota had it. On signing day, Max Grand spoke about what made his decision to attend Minnesota.

“There was a distinct moment when I knew,” Max Grand said. “There was one game, I think it was against Maryland, that all the running backs got subbed in and I think they rushed for like 300 yards. Watching them go to the sideline and all hug each other, that comradery, that support that they had for each other, that’s when I knew right away that’s where I want to be.”

In addition to that specific moment, Max Grand also chose Minnesota because of head coach PJ Fleck. He’s become one of the most high-energy figures in all of Minnesota sports, and that’s exactly what Max Grand loves about him.

“One of the bigger reasons why I chose Minnesota is because I love PJ Fleck, his energy, and his passion for football,” Max Grand said. “He signed a seven-year deal, so he obviously loves it enough to stay and that was kind of cool to see.”

Making a jump to the bright lights of the Twin Cities is something that Max Grand is looking forward to. Coming from a small town like Ellsworth and then making a jump to a large city and the Big Ten is something he has been waiting for.

“I’m really looking forward to being in a more diverse area,” Max Grand said. “Seeing the culture change, I think that will be huge. I’ve been looking forward to that, being from a small town. In terms of going from Middle Border to Big Ten, that will be a pretty big jump, but it should be good. I’m going to get after it and work hard.”

Many schools offered him a scholarship to play football at their institution – Minnesota wasn’t one of them. Instead, he goes to the Gophers as a preferred walk-on who will be competing for a scholarship with other walk-on players. Max Grand talked about how although he’s a preferred walk-on, he was treated in a way that more closely resembled a scholarship player.

“I was the only preferred walk-on to sign today, and I was the only preferred walk-on to have an at-home visit, (assistant head coach/running backs coach Kenni Burns) came to my house the other day,” Max Grand said. “It’s just surreal to think that I have that much value as a preferred walk-on. It’s not that common. They said that they see me getting a scholarship relatively soon and I believe them.”

Max Grand believes that he is going to earn a scholarship to play with the Gophers and based on every interaction he’s had with the coaches and the school, that will happen sooner rather than later. The last game of his high school career was the Division 3 State Championship game against Catholic Memorial, a game that was played at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison on Thursday, Nov. 18, a game that Ellsworth lost 21-12.

Now, if everything goes according to plan for Max Grand, he will get many more opportunities to play at Camp Randall. Instead of wearing Ellsworth purple and white, he will be wearing maroon and gold while battling for Paul Bunyan’s Axe on behalf of the Minnesota Gophers.

December 21, 2021