Rocori Two-Sport Star Steil Staying Busy this Summer [Watch]
Rocori's Jack Steil has not had a problem staying busy this summer. The junior has been traveling the country playing baseball for Starters Sports' 16U baseball team, while also preparing to start at quarterback for the upcoming Rocori football season.
Steil was the shortstop for Rocori's state tournament baseball team this past spring, posting an impressive .364 batting average and a team-high six home runs to help the Spartans to second place.
"It was a great experience and I got to play with a bunch of great senior players and junior players who were pretty good," Steil said before a legion baseball game in Cold Spring. "Our defense was awesome."
Steil was selected to play with the Starters Sports team this summer, where he has traveled around the country, including stops in Indiana, Tennessee and Georgia. The team is a sort of baseball version of basketball’s AAU program, formed by the Starters Sports training facility in Shakopee.
Starter Sports Director of Baseball Operations Greg Nesbitt says that Steil is a “physical specimen” with all the skills one would look for in a baseball player.
“One, he’s a physical specimen,” Nesbitt said. “I joke with him that he looks 25 years old.
“He has incredible strength, incredible fast-twitch muscles and incredible hand-eye coordination,” Nesbitt said. “He moves incredibly well, especially for how big he is, and has an incredible passion for the game.”
Being on the road with baseball meant missing some practice time with Rocori's football team. Coach James Herberg says that even though it's been tough to not have Steil at practice, he and his staff encourage their athletes to play multiple sports.
"It's difficult but the good news is, he's doing something," Herberg said. "He's a baseball guy and everyone is going to have a preference of the sport they want to play at the next level.
"We support and encourage two and three sport athletes," Herberg said. "He's chasing the baseball dream, which makes it a little difficult to mix him into the football stuff."
Herberg is quick to point out that Steil recently returned from a baseball tournament at 2 a.m. and sent a text to his football coach asking to open the weight room at 7 a.m. before the team's practice, an example of his “relentless” work ethic.
"He's a hard, relentless and tireless worker and that's something I would never question about him," Herberg said. "While he is chasing baseball, he is working to be a better football player as well."
"I ended up missing two camps for football, but they sent me the playbook and I studied it every day," Steil said. "Most of the stuff is similar to last year so I pretty much know what is going on."
Steil split time with Mason Primus at quarterback on Rocori's 2017 state tournament football team while throwing for 343 yards and five touchdowns. He did most of his damage on the ground, rushing 65 times for 439 yards and a touchdown.
Coach Herberg says while Steil was deployed mainly as a rushing weapon in 2017, the playbook will be "wide open" for him this season. The first-year head coach says Steil has a “rocket arm” that is capable of doing damage.
“The playbook will definitely be open,” Herberg said. “I think a lot of the running was predicated on our big, physical offensive line, so running was our strength as a whole.
“When he was throwing last week, he’s got a rocket arm like I’ve never seen before,” Herberg said. “He can kill you with his arm.”
Steil will also put his leadership skills to the test this season as a quarterback and linebacker with the Spartans. Coach Herberg says it’s a pretty rare position for a junior to be put in, but he has confidence Steil can pull it off.
“That’s the number one thing that we are looking for him to grow in,” Herberg said. “Not that he is a bad leader by any stretch of the imagination, but he is an underclassman and not many times have we had to ask a junior to be a leader of the team.
“Given his success in this early in his career, this is the next step we need for (him) to develop as an all-around player,” Herberg said. “I am excited about what he has to offer there.”
Nesbitt says that Steil was a great leader for the Starter Sports baseball team this summer, preferring to lead by example but not afraid to speak up when necessary.
“He is not really a rah-rah guy, he leads more by example,” Nesbitt said. “If something needs to be said, Jack will say it, but he’s always the first one on the field, always hustling, always picking up his teammates, that kind of stuff.
“When you watch him, you think to yourself, ‘This kid gets it,’” Nesbitt said.
Steil says he leaned on recently graduated quarterback Mason Primus, who led the team part-time in 2016 and full time in 2017, for advice on leading the team, a role he says he is ready to take on this season.
“I had a good leader last year in Mason Primus, he taught me a lot of things that will help me out this year,” Steil said. “He taught me to not be scared to tell people if they are doing something wrong, or doing something well.
“I asked him a lot of questions and he really helped me out,” Steil said.
As is the norm for Rocori football in general, Steil has lofty goals for this year’s team in Cold Spring.
“I am hoping for the team to make it back to the state tournament (this season),” Steil said. “To try to go undefeated and win the state championship.”