True freshman QB leads Jackrabbits to national championship game Original

BROOKINGS, S.D. (KELO) — SDSU is just one win away from claiming their first ever FCS national championship and they have reached this level thanks to their true freshman quarterback, Mark Gronowski.

Naperville, Illinois native, Mark Gronowski received just one offer to play college football at the Division 1 level and that offer came from South Dakota State.

“A young man that is very mature. A young man that understands football and a young man that believed in himself,” SDSU head coach John Stiegelmeier said. “I will not say that I knew he was going to be our starting quarterback, but I knew at some point in his career, he was going to be an awfully good player. I get surprised by our guys all of the time because they are an amazing group of guys.”

Gronowski received only one other offer and that was from a Division 2 school.

“It put a huge chip on my shoulder, I mean I had a couple walk-on offers from other schools as well, but this school is the one that really just dove in and invested their time into me and I really loved it here, so I ended up coming here, but it’s a big motivation for me,” SDSU freshman quarterback Mark Gronowski said. “Just going against teams that just really looked over me really and said that I was as good as the guys they were recruiting.”

SDSU’s winning culture was one of the reasons that brought Gronowski to Brookings.

“This culture is actually awesome and I love it here. Even when I was getting recruited here, it was the same thing that the coaches said it was going to be,” Gronowski said. “It’s just a great group of guys that are willing to work hard every single day and just put in all their effort and really just commit to our last play mentality.”

Gronowski learned the ropes quickly, thanks to a mentorship with standout linebacker, Logan Backhaus.

“Just learning from him with how he leads the team and how much of a big leader he is for us and just basically learning off of him,” Gronowski said. “I just continue to talk with him and build a relationship with him and trust, has really helped me out.”

In his first season in Brookings, the true freshman standout claimed both the Newcomer and Freshman of the year awards for the Missouri Valley Football Conference, along with earning a trip to SDSU’s first ever FCS national championship.

“This season has been awesome, it’s been unbelievable. It’s something that I haven’t even dreamed of and just getting to this point is such an opportunity,” Gronowski said. “Just getting to play with all these amazing guys and just a great opportunity to get down to Frisco too. It’s really just an unbelievable season that I couldn’t have dreamed of.”

SDSU will meet Sam Houston State on Sunday, May 16 in the championship. Kick-off is set for 1:00 p.m.

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