Jaylin Raab, center, smiles for a photo with his grandparents, Rodney Berg and Pam Raab, after signing his letter of intent to play football at Gustavus Adolphus College next fall. Raab had dreams of playing college football after growing up and watching his older brother play. Staff photo by Roy Koenig
A leg injury won’t stop NRHEG senior Jaylin Raab from recognizing a lifelong dream on the football field and giving back to his community in the gym.
The speedster recently committed to play football at Gustavus Adolphus College, and while he can’t play basketball due to surgery, he’s already taken on the role of a junior high coach.
“I always thought my older brother was going to play college football, so I wanted to be like him,” said Raab in an interview with Owatonna Live.
While it didn’t work for his sibling, he’s raring to go even if the injury during track season changed his outlook.
“I was going to go to the University of Minnesota’s camp and the University of Wisconsin's camp,” he said.
He took to social media with highlights and several Minnesota schools reached out. A game day visit in St. Peter made a big impact.
“As we’re going up the hill, I was like, ‘Okay. I think this is a place I want to be,’” he said.
Raab expects to play defensive back for the Gusties, which could match him up with a former Panthers’ teammate Tyrone Wilson. Wilson plays for Augsburg University and made a dramatic game-winning catch on that Saturday afternoon Raab visited.
“He’s going to be scary to play against. I’ve always had to go up against him on the scout team in practice,” said Raab. He also believes he will return kicks.
Raab recently connected with Owatonna High School graduate Carson DeKam, a senior linebacker for Gustavus.
“He just told me it’s going to be a big leap from where I’m at now. He said I’m going to miss home and that it’s going be a lot different,” said Raab.
Since he can’t play basketball this winter, Raab grabbed a whistle and is coaching seventh graders.
“They’re a good group of kids. They listen to me, and they don’t argue,” he said.
“They’ve had a good coach in the past year. I pulled out a play yesterday at practice, and they knew what to do. I was like, ‘Thank God, because I didn’t even know what I was talking about,’” he said with a laugh.
He’s working on adding his own spin to the playbook.
Player of the year
DeKam (OHS ’20) was named the MIAC Defensive Player of the Year. He averaged nine tackles per game for the Gusties who lost in the conference championship to Bethel University. DeKam had six tackles for a loss, two sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception.
“He’s meant so much to this team. Not just the work he’s doing on the field, putting up some really good numbers. He’s a captain. He’s one of those guys who’s highly respected in our program. What he does with our younger guys is incredible,” said Gusties’ coach Peter Haugen.
OwatonnaLive.com play-by-play schedule
Thursday, Dec. 7
OHS boys’ swim and dive vs. Austin, 6:30 p.m.
Medford wrestling vs Westfield, 7 p.m.
OHS boys’ basketball vs. Mankato West, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Dec. 8
Medford boys’ basketball vs. Randolph, 7:15 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 9
Owatonna Dance Team Invite, 8 a.m.