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2013 All-Metro football team: Defense

11/11/2013, 9:54pm CST
By Jim Paulsen, Star Tribune

Preston Woods, South St. Paul, 2013 All-Metro football

GREG MENARD

Lakeville North • DE

6-2, 225. Tremendous all-around athlete. At his best as a speed rusher but can drop into coverage. Has 175 career tackles, 24 sacks. Headed to North Dakota State.

JASHON CORNELL

Cretin-Derham Hall • DE • Jr.

6-4, 230. Considered the top junior LB recruit in the nation. Devastating pass rusher who led the Raiders in sacks. Opponents avoided his side of the field.

DAILEN WALKER

St. Paul Central • NG

6-1, 320. MVP of the St. Paul Conference. Great two-gap player who is light on his feet. Swallows ball-carriers. Finished with 54 tackles, nine for loss, and four sacks.

PRESTON WOODS

South St. Paul • DT

6-2, 290. Two-way starter who can control both sides of the ball. Has 84 tackles, 13 for loss and three forced fumbles. Surprisingly quick laterally. Likely will play in the Big Ten.

DREW GREELY

Wayzata • DE

6-3, 240. Fast and agile yet immensely strong upper body. Moves well sideline-to-sideline, thanks to 4.7 40-yard speed. Has offers from Air Force and North Dakota.

CRAIG SZYMANSKI

Rosemount • LB

6-2, 210. Great recognition. Plays downhill and never misses tackles. Has 19.5 tackles for loss and 12 sacks. Coach Jeff Erdmann called him “the best outside linebacker we have had in 15 years.”

EJODAMEN EJIYA

Spring Lake Park • LB

6-3, 186. North Suburban Defensive MVP. Had 153 tackles (101 solo) in 10 games. Coach Jeff Schlieff said he’s “the best football player to come out of Spring Lake Park”. Headed to North Dakota State.

BLAKE WEBER

Prior Lake • LB

6-2, 212. Every-down player on both sides of the ball, yet never wears down. At his best in big games, as evidenced by a three-TD, 14-tackle effort against Eden Prairie. Minnesota, Northern Illinois, South Dakota are interested.

CONNER YEPSEN

Rosemount • DB

5-10, 150. Shutdown corner who can run with receivers. Great ball skills led to seven interceptions, returning three for touchdowns. Will play lacrosse at Division I Robert Morris.

BEN MEZZENGA

Totino-Grace • DB • Jr.

5-11, 175. Physical enough to handle big backs in run support, fast enough to run with receivers. A playmaker with a nose for the ball. Dangerous as a return man.

JAKE ENGELKEN

Maple Grove • DB

6-2, 180. Safety who plays like a linebacker. Excels in run support. Tackles are heard as well as seen. Had 94 tackles (58 solo), five tackles for loss. Returned two fumbles for TDs.

REID TAUBENHEIM

Farmington • K

6-1, 185. Huge leg leads to touchbacks on kickoffs. Accurate on field goals to 45-plus yards. Also punts with exceptional hang time. A Division I-level recruit.

JIM PAULSEN

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