For those unaware, I went to high school in a far-Northern Minnesota town about 10 miles from the Canadian border (Roseau). In my high school days I was a less-than-talented high school football player, and an only slightly-more talented baseball player. However, I played around many, many talented athletes, some of whom went on to great things in their futures, and others whom simply failed to live up to expectations.
One of those teammates who fit the mold for the former was John Prelvitz, whom I caught up with a while back, and he was enthused about a chance to answer a few questions. Prelvitz was a stalwart punter for the NDSU football team who compiled an exceptional senior season which we touch on in the interview.
Brandon Warne: If I recall correctly, you’re the first Roseau Ram to play DI football, right?
John Prelvitz: Yes, as far as I know.
BW: Help us understand a bit better about how the recruiting process worked for you.
JP: Doug Borowicz really helped me get exposure to NDSU on a deeper level. He knew Brent Vigen, who played his college career at NDSU and is now their offensive coordinator. Brent came to Roseau and recruited me. I went there as a preferred walk-on and earned my way to a scholarship. Overall it was great because I was fortunate enough to have a few choices in a few different sports. But NDSU really sold me on getting a quality education and being part of a great football program. Truthfully, both were exactly that!
BW: How was the first day of practice?
JP: It was intimidating, but one of the best feelings ever. It was one of the moments where I thought, “What have I gotten myself into?” I realized very quickly that I wasn’t as good as I may have thought. My competitive spirit was immediately drawn out ten-fold.
BW: What was your ‘welcome to DI/college football’ moment?
JP: Once I realized how big, strong, and fast my teammates were, I knew this program was on another level. Some of the guys I played with on our 2006 and 2007 teams are now starters in the NFL. So if that tells you anything, it was quite the site watching them play at NDSU. Also, the professional structure and equipment we had access to; it was something I had never experienced before.
BW: Initially, you played with (Mike) Dragosavich, who was an excellent punter in his own right.
JP: Yes, I played with Mike. He was in his junior season when I got to NDSU in 2006. Fortunately for him, I didn’t beat him out his senior year. *laughs* I was his backup for two seasons and then I started in 2008 and played for three seasons.
BW: Did he mentor you in any way? What did you learn from him?
JP: He was one of the main reasons I thrived at NDSU. I learned so many things from Drago. Not only perfecting technique, but I learned how to develop a mentality that supported success at that level.
BW: What are the best memories you draw from your time on the team?
JP: Many of my favorite memories always involved my teammates. I had the best teammates in the world. Of course, we gave each other a hard time now and then but I always knew that no matter what, that they had my back and I had theirs. It didn’t matter if we were on the field, in the weight room, or in a social setting. The camaraderie you build with those guys is pivotal; it is a brotherhood. Together, you will face some of the toughest times in your life, but you will also experience some of the best times, too.
From a material standpoint, being one of the best punters in all of college football during my senior year was an amazing memory. Earning All-Conference and All-American honors were both, undoubtedly, highlights of my career. Although none of those things could have happened without having the best teammates and coaches in the country.
BW: You also played with Joe Mays, who’s gone on to be a pretty good thumper at linebacker for the Denver Broncos.
JP: Yes, I played with Joe. My memory of him was always, “Wow, he is a freak of nature!” He was always in great physical shape and could flatten anyone in his way. But he was a very humble guy. Even as a rookie punter, he treated me with respect and that really says a lot! He is a great guy all around and I wish him all the best in the future.
BW: Who else did you play with who made the NFL?
JP: There are a few. Craig Dahl was a strong safety for NDSU, and is now with the St. Louis Rams as a starter. Matt Veldman is down in Jacksonville with the Jaguars right now. He played tight end and graduated a year after I did. Paul Cornick was picked up by Denver late this last season and was on the practice squad as an offensive tackle.
BW: How can you best sum up what it meant to beat the Gophers?
JP: Knowing that your team can defeat a Big Ten school was a great measuring stick. Beating them was a critical part of NDSU’s future success as a program. It gave us a taste of success that kept us hungry and wanting more. Our guys realized that we can compete with the majority of all college teams, and that helped push us to the next level, striving for absolute excellence.
The past three years NDSU has been in the FCS playoffs and twice they won the championship. That is now the expectation and beating the Gophers was a stepping stone to all of it.
BW: You didn’t go the the NFL combine, but rather a prospect showcase after your collegiate career was done. Can you fill us in on some of the details there?
JP: I actually attended a few NFL prospect camps/combines that were put on by former NFL specialist Gary Zauner. Coach Zauner worked with Drago, as well as many current and former NFL specialists. He is a wonderful launching pad for high school and college prospects.
It was fantastic to see the nation’s top punters from all college football. It helped bring out the competitive nature when we all needed it the most. The talent was there and now it’s all about who can execute at a high level, which is exactly what the NFL looks for. Being there was great; unfortunately this was during the lockout, so it was a quiet time for any prospective NFL punter.
BW: When you reflect on your time as a punter, what do you remember best/ worst?
JP: The most important thing I took away from punting while playing college football was the focus, technique, and execution it took to achieve success. No matter what you are trying to accomplish in life, it probably won’t happen unless you have a plan in place to make it happen. I learned that whatever I was passionate about whether it was parenting, sports, business, marriage, or being the best Christian I could be, I had the best chance at succeeding if I focused on those three components.
Success, in my opinion, is broken down three ways. First, you have to have an absolute laser focus on what you want. Second, you need to have developed a plan of action based on calculated research or previous trial and error. Finally, you need to commit to executing that game plan every day to the best of your ability. These are the three things I started focusing on when I realized I had the potential to make an impact. Potential, as we all know, is defined as ‘capable of being but not yet in existence.’ Too many times I thrived on the potential of things and ironically they never became a reality. I am confident that with these three steps, those flowers we all saw potential in would bloom into the beautiful bouquet they were meant to be.
BW: Well, since you aren’t kicking on our televisions every Sunday, what are you up to now?
JP: Since graduating from NDSU in 2010, I am now living in Sartell, Minn. I reside here with my wife, Ashley and our amazing sons, Bryden (5) and Beckett (6 months). I am thriving in my career as a financial planner. I represent Northwestern Mutual and my office is in St. Cloud. We are having the time of our lives. During the day I am meeting some of the most successful people in our community, striving to make an impact on as many people as I can. Ashley and I give much thanks to where we have been and we are excited for what is to come in the future!