Lightning in a bottle: Grand Meadow grad shining for SMSU football team

Published 7:53 pm Friday, October 23, 2015

MARSHALL — When Grand Meadow grad Caleb Leichtnam took the field in Southwest Minnesota State University’s football opener at Minot Sept. 3, he was a bundle of nerves.

Leichtnam, who plays safety for the Mustangs, hadn’t played an organized football game in two years and he was now thrust into the starting defense. Leichtnam was being asked too help boost the defense of a squad that had high hopes of improving after they had gone two straight seasons with just three wins.

Grand Meadow grad Caleb Leichtnam has stepped up with Southwest Minnesota State University this season. Photo by Greg Devereaux Photography 

Grand Meadow grad Caleb Leichtnam has stepped up with Southwest Minnesota State University this season. Photo by Greg Devereaux Photography

“The nerves were there. They didn’t go away until the first kickoff and I started playing again. It took awhile to get comfortable,” Leichtnam said. “By the time the second half came, everything started moving slowly and clear. I was comfortable again.”

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Leichtnam had previously starred at GM and RCTC, but he used the next two years to try and play Division I football at Iowa State University. After red-shirting for a year at ISU, Leichtnam wasn’t on track to see a lot of playing time with the Cyclones and he made the decision to transfer to Division II SMSU.

Although the Mustangs, who are 5-2 this season, hadn’t been winning a lot of games in the last couple of years, Leichtnam said he saw some good athletes on the team and he felt they were ready to start winning.

Playing on a good team was a big factor for Leichtnam, who has always played on winning teams through high school and college.

“When I got here I knew we had a shot to be good,” Leichtnam said. “Football’s always a lot more fun when you’re winning.”

Leichtnam said it didn’t take long for him to fit into the Mustangs defense, which relies on their athletic front line to create havoc, while Leichtnam and the rest of the secondary sit back and play a zone defense.

In seven games, Leichtnam has 50 tackles, 3 interceptions and 5 passes defensed.

“I got here and it didn’t take me long to get acquainted with the guys,” he said. “They kind of accepted me right away and it fit perfectly. They need a little punch on defense, a little more energy and excitement and I was able to give them a little bit of that.”

After a long two years of waiting, Leichtnam said his first year back on the football field has been going by like a blur. He’s enjoyed every minute of it and he’s leaning towards playing with the Mustangs again next year.

“It was a pretty special feeling when I finally got out here. It’s crazy how fast it’s going,” he said. “We’re already through seven games. My plan right now is to play one more year here and use up my last year of eligibility. I’ve still got one year of school left.”

As Leichtnam has been playing college football, the Superlarks have been dominating the nine man football scene. GM has won two straight state titles and Leicthnam has been following those teams as his younger brother Rian plays on the squad.

Caleb Leichtnam

Caleb Leichtnam

“I love watching them and I love seeing their highlights,” Leichtnam said. ‘I was just talking about the team with [GM grads] Trenton [Bleifus] and Landon [Jacobson] the other day. They’ve got a lot of talent on that team.”