Tuscola's VonLanken easy-going off field; 'tough-nosed' on it

Tuscola's VonLanken easy-going off field; 'tough-nosed' on it

TUSCOLA — Will Little knows what Brayden VonLanken is like when he's not playing football.

"He's about the easiest-going guy I know," the Tuscola senior running back said, "and one of the nicest, funniest guys I know."

Little can also relate to what VonLanken, a two-way senior starter on the offensive line and defensive line for the Warriors, is like when he is playing football.

"He's an aggressive guy," Little said. "He's a tough-nosed kid who's really hard to bring down."

The 6-foot-2, 280-pound VonLanken is the key cog on both lines for the Warriors entering today's 7 p.m. home kickoff at Memorial Field against rival Arcola. A senior, he starts at left tackle on offense and gets after opposing quarterbacks from his defensive end spot.

What does he like about both positions?

"I like blocking and setting holes for my running backs so they can score touchdowns," VonLanken said. "On defense, I like hitting quarterbacks and running backs."

He does both well. A starter on last year's state runner-up team in Class 1A, VonLanken garnered an offer from Western Illinois last school year, and has interest from Northern Illinois, Central Michigan, Southern Illinois, Tennessee-Martin and Northwest Missouri State, among others.

"It's a process, for sure," VonLanken said. "I'm waiting it out until after football season ends to make a decision. I just want to focus on my senior season."A three-sport athlete at Tuscola — who also contributes on the basketball court and helped Tuscola's baseball team place third in Class 2A back in June — VonLanken isn't just a big body who takes up space.

"He's got size, he's physical and he can bend very well at the hips," Tuscola coach Andy Romine said. "His technique is very, very good. He's never going to leave linebackers hanging out to dry. He's not going to go try and make a play when he's supposed to stay in his assignment. We think he's one of the best linemen around."

He'll get tested against Arcola. And other Tuscola opponents the rest of the season. But he's ready for the challenge of keeping the Warriors among the top small-school programs in the state.

Another chance to enhance that credibility comes against the Purple Riders.

"He's played a lot since he was a sophomore, so people are going to gravitate towards how he practices with effort, plays with effort and puts in the hours with film study," Romine said. "From that standpoint, we've been really happy with what he's done so far this year."