Isaac Erbes, a University of South Dakota lineman and 2024 NFL Draft prospect, shared insights into how football has influenced his life and discussed his future plans.
“When I was younger, I grew up around football,” said Erbes. “My uncle played college football at a small school, and I started playing more seriously in the third grade. Third grade was my second year of organized football, it was my first year in a local town. It was one of those things that came natural to me. It’s hard to describe it… I don’t know if it was learning a new sport at the time or hanging around with all my friends. But it ended up being something I fell in love with.”
Reflecting on his early experiences with football, Isaac Erbes shared, “When I was younger, I grew up around football,” and went on to describe how playing tackle football in fourth grade became a safe space for him to navigate the challenges and emotions of childhood, including typical sibling dynamics.
“You get to go out, rough somebody up and there’s no consequences for it, it’s part of the game,” said Erbes. “When I was going into my kindergarten year, I moved into a different part of the city, I didn’t have too many friends where I was living and couldn’t drive to go see them. I spent a lot of free time playing catch outside with my older sister.” Isaac and his sister shared their competitive nature together, where Isaac used football to truly enhance this competitiveness.
Reflecting on high school football, Isaac Erbes recounted, “When I got to high school, I did not play varsity right away,” detailing the valuable lessons learned during his freshman year and the challenges and successes that followed, including a setback due to a broken foot in his junior year. “Junior year is an important year for high school college recruiting and it’s one of those things that when you get hurt your junior season gets cut in half. I still remember to this day the doctor telling me and showing me the x-ray of my broken foot and I sat there crying because I love to play football and it left me with a lot of uncertainty.”
One of his cherished high school football memories revolves around a triumphant moment.
“There was a team we played my senior year that we lost to years before in the playoffs, Lewis Central, and we beat them my senior year, and that’s just a good feeling,” shared Erbes. “Coming back and beating a team that you’ve previously lost to, especially when you’ve made mistakes in earlier games against them, it’s indescribable the feeling of winning.”
Transitioning from high school to college, Erbes had an unforgettable experience.
“I had a few offers coming out of high school,” said Erbes. “One scholarship offer, which is at USD. College is a great time. Six years of playing college football, getting school paid for, it’s just a great experience. You learn a lot, meet a lot of cool people, and now we’re trying to take it to the next level because I’m not done playing football.”
He also noted how the sport has given him great personal relationships with fellow teammates, mentors, and more.
“The most enjoyable part about football is definitely building the relationships with your teammates and coaches,” said Erbes. “Those guys become brothers for life; I have old teammates that are getting married, and I am standing up at their weddings. You create a true family aspect. A few people who stick out to me greatly are my old roommates Alex Jensen and Dalton Godfrey, they are older than me and took the young guy under their wing and they pushed me to my potential and taught me things that I could teach the younger guys now.” Another impactful teammate he had was Jack Cochrane who now plays for the Kansas City Chiefs once was a lifting partner to Erbes.
Describing his experience navigating the college football recruitment process, he emphasized taking advantage of every opportunity to enhance his skills.
“I was one of those kids that did every camp that I had the opportunity to, whether it was specials camp, long snapping, or a ton of O-line camps,” said Erbes. “I remember I first met South Dakota at an Iowa State camp.” He expressed how the coaches from the University of South Dakota were there that day, and he “hit it off” with them.
Going to the University of South Dakota, he shared how it was to play at the collegiate level.
“Going from high school to college, it’s bigger, faster, stronger,” shared Erbes. “It’s just one thing you have to get used to the playing speed, and I didn’t play much as a true freshman, but my redshirt freshman year, I started every single game and started every single one since then. It was definitely a change of pace and change of physicality, but that’s something you learn to get over.”
Erbes went on to share a favorite college football memory.
“Beating South Dakota State for the first time in the Division 1 era was pretty exciting, and then beating them once again the year after that,” shared Erbes. “It’s a great feeling when you beat a good team; beating NDSU on their homecoming this year was also an unforgettable memory. We knew going in that the game could be tough, especially because it was played at their home field and they already had an amazing record. I had personally never beaten them in my entire time in college until last year. When you see the scoreboard with all zeros and you’re up at the end of the game there’s no better feeling.”
But playing football isn’t always easy.
“It’s hard,” said Erbes. “It takes a lot. You have to be mentally prepared to do whatever. It’s a lot of early mornings, but you just get up and do the work and your rewards will come.” For example, “Some of the things I would do is over prepare. If I knew something coming up was going to be difficult, I would over prepare for it by getting in the treatment room more often or taking a longer to warm up to make it easier. Outside of the weight room, learning the playbook my freshman year I would meet with my coach during times I could sneak in so by the time football camp came around I was ready.”
His father had a significant impact on his life, serving as a coach in youth football. Additionally, some friends from South Dakota played crucial roles. He had a coach who inspired him to contribute to helping those less fortunate by providing clothing around the winter time. Erbes also participated in a “Polar Plunge” with the Special Olympics of South Dakota.
In the future, he would like to make a difference by assisting students in the education system, helping them get involved in sports, and providing them with access to food.
Erbes is now training for the 2024 NFL Draft and can’t wait to see his future ahead.