BY ZACHARY CORMIER
David Mueller was all smiles as he donned a baseball cap emblazoned with the logo of the University of Calgary Dinos last Wednesday at Lacombe Composite High School.
The speedy Grade 12 wide receiver for the Lacombe Rams, who officially signed his commitment to play CIS football at the U of C during a special announcement ceremony at the school last week, said that he was extremely excited at the prospect of playing for the elite football team.
“It’s an awesome opportunity. I worked really hard for it for the last three or four years, since football started getting serious,” said Mueller.
“It’s a bit of a relief to have it over now with, too. It was starting to get stressful — the decision making process — but I’m pretty confident in my decision. I’m looking forward to playing next year.”
Anyone who has ever been to a Lacombe Rams football game has probably noticed the big, 6-foot tall receiver blasting past and powering through opponents nearly every time he got the ball.
Weighing in at a hulking 209 lbs, Mueller’s size and speed is enough to overpower and out-manoeuvre most defenders at the high school level, said U of C Dinos Head Coach Wayne Harris.
“David’s a very strong, very physical inside receiver. He has very good hands, great route running. We think he’s going to be a tremendous asset,” Harris said, adding that Mueller reminds the Dinos’ coaching staff of Austen Hartley, who is currently the top receiver in the Dinos’ program.
“Hartley is a guy that has done very, very well for us; a similar style. We’re very excited to have David join us.”
Mueller, who has also played for Team Alberta at the U18 Canada Cup tournament for the past two years, said he chose to become part of the U of C program for a variety of reasons.
“I really like the coaching staff and there’s clearly a great atmosphere among the players. Every time they run a practice it’s super well done. Everything about it is exactly the way they want it to be, right down to the last detail. It’s clearly a great program to be involved with,” he said, adding that football wasn’t the only reason he chose the school.
“They have a strong hold on academics and they’re very supportive of their player’s academics, too.”
Playing university-level football has been a goal of Mueller’s ever since his final year of Bantam football in Grade 9.
“Ever since then, I don’t think there’s ever been any doubt in my mind that I could do it. If I can work for it, I can do it and I wasn’t going to take no for an answer. I wasn’t going to settle.”
Rams football coach Jason Petrie said that while he hasn’t coached David throughout high school, he has seen the player’s incredible drive to succeed firsthand as a teacher.
“I saw the growth, huge. He was one of those kids that was always motivated to do the things that he needed to do to become successful and the proof was in his play,” said Petrie, who took over the LCHS football program at the beginning of this year.
“He’s worked really hard to get here. That’s a lifetime of work up to this point and it couldn’t happen to a better kid. We’re very proud of him.”
Petrie added that Mueller’s signing with the U of C is also a good thing for the football program at LCHS.
“From our program right now, currently we have four former players and students from our school playing in the CIS right now. That’s a big thing. We’re becoming a feeder and we continue to develop good prospects for Jr. A football and CIS. That’s our mandate.”
Harris noted that there is a chance that Mueller could play as soon as next year, but there are no guarantees.
“It’s always a year-to-year evaluation because you’re never quite sure who’s going to be back,” he said, noting that the Dinos have a number of their top receivers in the CFL draft this season.
“The opportunity is there. We had two freshman receivers playing in games last year and certainly with his size and ability to handle the contact he certainly has a legitimate opportunity to come in and play right away.”
The first opportunity Mueller will have to impress his new coaches will be at spring camp later this year.
But Mueller said he’s ready for the challenge.
“It’s going to be a huge jump but I’m going to work hard for it. It’s what I want to do. I want to be ready to go when spring camp rolls around.”