BELLEVILLE — A chance to stay at linebacker and an enthusiastic home recruiting visit helped Althoff High School senior Erik Furmanek nail down his college decision.
Furmanek, an all-state selection who helped Althoff to a 10-4 record and second-place finish in Class 2A last season, has given a verbal commitment to Division I Missouri State University.
The 2012 Belleville News-Democrat Small-School Football Player of the Year also had offers from Western Illinois, Tennessee-Martin and Indiana State.
Interest picked up a bit after Althoff's state playoff run and Furmanek said Missouri State made an offer to him in early December. He decided to accept last weekend.
"If I don't grow out of (linebacker) I can stay there," said Furmanek, a 6-foot-4, 240-pounder who had 174 tackles, four interceptions, nine tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery his senior season. "If I have to move to D-end (defensive end) I have to move to D-end. They just did a really good job of recruiting me. I started talking to them the week after Thanksgiving, so they offered pretty quick."
Furmanek said he enjoyed his visit at school and at home with Missouri State coach Terry Allen and offensive coordinator Rob Christophel. Furmanek will take his official recruiting trip to the Springfield, Mo., campus later this month.
"I liked the head coach and the coaches that recruited me," Furmanek said. "It's a relief, I'm happy to be committed somewhere. They have great academics with physical therapy, which I'm going into. They have a team that can be really good and I want to be part of that."
There also could be a chance for some early playing time, another factor in the decision. MSU was 3-8 last season and 3-5 in the Missouri Valley Conference, including road losses against Kansas State and Louisville.
"There's some spaces opening up, they have senior (linebackers) this year that graduate," Furmanek said. " Everybody I've talked to that goes there say it's a good school."
Furmanek, who will sign with Missouri State the first week of February, comes from an athletic family. His older sister, Nikki Furmanek, is a senior on the women's rowing team at the University of Oklahoma.
First-cousin Carson Sonnenberg is playing basketball at Baker University, an NAIA school in Kansas.
Panthers quarterback Todd Porter got a visit from new Western Kentucky coach Bobby Petrino on Thursday. Porter visited Florida Atlantic last weekend and will likely choose between the two schools, according to O'Fallon coach Brandon Joggerst.
Joggerst said O'Fallon offensive tackle Charles Harmon (6-5, 240) has committed to South Dakota State, while kicker Austin Barnes is leaning toward Eastern Michigan.
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at email@example.com or 239-2454.