Late flip has Millard North football star following 'gut feeling'

Millard North's Jacob Matthew

Millard North Super Six linebacker Jacob Matthew will still play football in South Dakota, just not for South Dakota State.

He announced Monday that he will no longer play for the Jackrabbits, a commitment he had made in November. He’ll be competing closer to home with the Coyotes in Vermillion.

Matthew, 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, said South Dakota ended up being a better fit.

“It came down to education,’’ he said. “South Dakota State does not have a school of business. They give you a degree in business. South Dakota has a very highly credited school of business. At the end of the day, you go to college for your education.’’

It was a tough decision. Matthew said SDSU was the first school to take a leap of faith and offer him a scholarship. He had a good relationship with the coaches.

“They recruited me perfectly and did their best for the school,’’ he said.

South Dakota had made an offer, too, but Matthew said things didn’t get serious until after the Coyotes made a coaching change.

Bob Nielson was named head coach in December 2015, and Brian Mohnsen, a former special teams player at Nebraska, joined the staff as assistant head coach for the defensive line.

He began following Matthew on Twitter. He talked up the school and all it had to offer and how the new coaching staff was going to change things.

Matthew visited the weekend before last and decided to switch soon after.

“He never once strong-armed me and never said anything bad about South Dakota State,’’ Matthew said. “I really liked what they had to offer.’’

Matthew had a standout season as a junior, rushing for 1,381 yards and averaging 6.6 yards a carry. But this past fall, he was hampered by three shoulder dislocations. He played in seven games but not on both sides of the ball as the Mustangs won the Class A title.

He underwent surgery on the left shoulder Dec. 10 and started rehabilitation two weeks ago. The healing process takes four to five months, so he missed wrestling season.

Matthew said if he would have stayed with SDSU, he would have always wondered about the opportunity at South Dakota. That made his decision somewhat easier.

“My gut tells me I’m supposed to go to South Dakota,’’ he said of the decision. “I feel really strongly about it. It was definitely the right one to make.’’

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