High School Sports

A late-comer to football, no one’s missing Ruskin High’s future Golden Gopher anymore

Aireontae Ersery, No. 63 in white, helps clear a path for the running back during a game last season.
Aireontae Ersery, No. 63 in white, helps clear a path for the running back during a game last season. Courtesy photo

Aireontae Ersery’s entire football career is just more than two seasons old, and the 6-foot-5, 290-pound Ruskin High senior has a lot to show over that short time.

He’s gone from a large, athletic football newbie to one of Ruskin’s few power-five conference pledges — he committed to Minnesota over the summer. And you won’t have any trouble finding Ersery on Friday nights this fall. No. 63 will get a breather at halftime.

Otherwise, coach William Perkins plans to use Ersery’s combination of strength, size, and speed at every turn: on offense at tackle, at defensive end and to wreak havoc on special teams.

Ersery might have easily been able to contribute during his freshman year, if only the coaching staff knew about him. But the freshman class went to school in a different building at the time, and, well …

“We didn’t see him until football season was over. When we saw him, it was like, ‘Why aren’t you playing football?,’” Perkins said with a laugh.

Ersery started working out after that freshman season with some friends and relatives on the team. He had started to fill out by then, and that’s when the plan started to come together.

“The seniors were making me better. You know it’s a process. You have to love it,” Ersery said. “And that’s why I came to love football.”

Perkins knew from the outset that Ersery could start right away on the offensive line. And it didn’t take long him long to learn that there might be a future for him in the game.

He was pitted against William Chrisman standout (and current Texas redshirt freshman) Daniel Carson.

“I went against him and the coaches told me I did a good job, and that’s when I kind of knew I was ready for the next level,” Ersery said.

The primary focus in 2017 was on offense, with a few defensive snaps sprinkled in. Those defensive responsibilities increased last year. Perkins is counting on Ersery to be an iron man this year.

If past performance is any indication, Ersery won’t have any problem handling the workload. One of the Ruskin football assistants convinced Ersery to try wrestling for the first time last season, and he excelled.

Another asked him to try track and field. He placed fourth in Missouri’s Class 4 state meet, with a throw of 51 feet, 7.5 inches.

Ersery said there’s a family atmosphere to the program at Ruskin, and that same feeling is what pulled him to Minnesota.

“I went to a camp up there, and we had great conversations. I talked to the coaches about what I want to accomplish. I opened up to them, I met the head coach, talked to kids, and it’s got a family vibe. That’s what drove me,” Ersery said. “Minnesota is beautiful also. It felt like Kansas City: kinda busy, but slow at the same time.”

Ersery has become a value part of the Ruskin football program, an example of what’s possible when hard work meets talent.

“Put in the work and schools will come for you,” Perkins said. “We think it will make a difference, and we hope it’s going to get more kids out.”

Ersery has accomplished a lot already, and his goals for his senior season are simple.

“I really want no sacks and a lot of tackles,” Ersery said.

No sacks?

“No sacks given up on offense,” Ersery said with a laugh.

It wasn’t that long ago that Ersery was an unknown. Now he’ll be impossible to miss.

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