Prep football: Sheldon commits to NDSU

Reese Sheldon becomes the first Cloquet football player since 1996 graduate Aaron Johnson to sign with a Division I program.

Players in purple uniforms play football against players in white uniforms with gold helmets
Reese Sheldon (1) of Cloquet strongarms Zach Thorsten (21) of Hermantown while running with the ball at Bromberg Field on Friday, Sept. 30, in Cloquet.
Clint Austin / 2022 File / Duluth News Tribune

CLOQUET — Over the course of his football playing career at Cloquet, adaptability has proven to be an invaluable trait for two-way starter Reese Sheldon.

The 6-foot, 2-inch senior has lined up all over the offense as a running back, wide receiver and most recently as a signal caller this past season, in addition to his role as linebacker on the Lumberjack defense.

Next season, he’ll make one more switch to play safety for Division I FCS North Dakota State University in Fargo under head coach Matt Entz.

NLI signing
Cloquet senior Reese Sheldon throws up the "Go Bison" hand sign with his family after signing his National Letter of Intent with North Dakota State University on Friday, Feb. 24, inside the conference room of Cloquet High School.
Jake Przytarski / Cloquet Pine Journal

Sheldon made it official, Friday, Feb. 24, when he signed his national letter of intent inside the conference room of Cloquet High School alongside friends and family.

The moment was a culmination of hard work and dedication, according to Sheldon.


“It’s surreal,” Sheldon said. “I’ve worked my whole life for it, so it’s a pretty cool experience and hard work pays off.”

According to head football coach Jeff Ojanen, Sheldon becomes the first Cloquet football player to sign with a DI (FCS or FBS) program since 1996 graduate Aaron Johnson, who went on to play at Ball State University as a lineman.

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“He’s been a really special player for us (and) we kind of had an idea that he had a chance to do something like he’s doing, being able to play at a Division I school. But he’s also a kid that’s worked really hard to get to where he’s at,” Ojanen said.

When asked about playing the safety position for the first time, Ojanen had little concern about Sheldon’s ability to thrive.

“He’s definitely a good enough athlete to play anywhere,” Ojanen said. ”... He’s fast, he’s very smart. He understands the game. I think that he’ll be able to adjust pretty easily to that position.”

This past season, Sheldon earned a spot on the Cloquet Pine Journal’s All-Area team after rushing for 788 yards and 11 scores to go along with 654 yards passing and an additional seven passing touchdowns. He also racked up 34.5 tackles and an interception from the linebacker position.

Under Sheldon’s leadership, the Lumberjacks made a postseason run to the Section 7AAAA final after upsetting top-seed Grand Rapids in the semifinals.

From one winning program to another, Sheldon said the tradition that comes with playing for the nine-time national champions of NDSU played a role in his decision to take his talents to Fargo.


“It was a pretty big factor,” Sheldon said. “It was pretty evident that they want to win (and) I want to win, of course. I’m a competitor and that was a big thing.”

Sheldon is one of 26 incoming recruits for NDSU’s high school class of 2023.

Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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