It might have been the sky scraping punts during the semifinals of the Class 5A state football tournament at the Metrodome.
Or his consistent performance during Brainerd’s 12-game win streak and the Warriors’ run to the Class 5A state championship game.
Both undoubtedly helped Brainerd High School senior punter Logan McElfresh commit to being a walk-on at the University of Minnesota next fall. He made an official visit last weekend and committed to the Gophers shortly thereafter.
In the state semifinals against Chaska, McElfresh punted eight times for 318 yards (39.8 average) and kicked off four times for 216 yards (54-yard average) with one touchback.
For the season, McElfresh helped Brainerd to a 12-1 record by averaging 34.8 yards on 38 punts. He kicked two field goals, both from 30 yards, and converted 47 of 52 extra-point kicks (.904). He kicked off 72 times for 3,738 yards (51.9 average) with 16 touchbacks. He also played quarterback, running back and tight end.
His performance at a Kohl’s Professional Camp for Kicking, Punting and Snapping also had to interest the Gophers. He competed in a December 2013 Showcase Camp, which led to him being the 26th-ranked punter and 82nd-ranked kicker in the class of 2014. He charted punts with hang time as long as 4.8 seconds.
“They chart distance and hang time on 10 different punts,” McElfresh said, “then they have a competition with whoever kicks highest and farthest. Based off that competition then they chart and rank everyone, and I got ranked 26th.”
Warriors coach Ron Stolski helped interest the Gophers in McElfresh.
“He talked to one of their coaches during the season,” McElfresh said, “so I was kind of on their radar. They decided about two or three weeks ago they were going to take a punter this year, so they contacted me then.”
Stolski said McElfresh’s skills were obvious to anyone who watched Brainerd play and to any team that played the Warriors.
“Logan has great power,” Stolski said. “He has worked hard on his game in the offseason. He attended camps and so on. In my conversations with the Gophers and others, they were very impressed with his potential, and I think potential is the key word here.
“He’s a dutiful trainer and worker. No one will work harder at improving his ability than he will. It’s an exciting time. I was told by recruiters he was No. 1 on their list.”
McElfresh said North Dakota State University was interested in him as a walk-on. He also said the University of Mary offered him about an 80-percent scholarship and that Bemidji State and Minnesota-Duluth also offered smaller scholarships.
“Growing up I kind of always dreamed of playing for a Division I school,” McElfresh said. “That was kind of my goal two years ago. Being from Minnesota, I think the Gophers are pretty cool.”
McElfresh hopes to make the team his freshman season, but he could be red-shirted.
“They said they don’t really red-shirt punters right away. They said if I don’t play at all then I will red-shirt,” he said. “I’m going to go in and compete right away. If I earn a spot then I won’t red-shirt.”