In this era of football players who focus on touchdowns and tackles – in short, compiling statistics – Austin Lawson is a bit of a throwback.
“I like to block,” the Cambridge-Isanti grad said. “Moving someone against their will – to me, nothing feels better. I just like blocking people.”
Lawson’s blocking had an immediate impact for the North Dakota State College of Science football team. The 6-1, 215-pound freshman helped the Wildcats reach a ranking of No. 20 in the National Junior College Athletic Association football poll and finish with an 8-2 record.
“Not everyone on the team can be a superstar or playmaker,” Lawson said. “Some people on the team have to get in there, get dirty, and help those guys make plays. I take a lot of pride in my role.”
Lawson’s love of blocking developed early in his football career.
“When I was a little kid, I was always too heavy to run the ball because of the weight limit,” he explained. “So I always was on the offensive line. I learned to like to pancake people – and I thought that was a lot of fun.”
Lawson’s blocking played a role in Cambridge-Isanti’s success on the football field last season, which drew the attention of North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, N.D.
“Based on last year, I knew they ran the ball a lot – and I liked that,” he said. “I knew I was coming here to play fullback or tight end, and I had no problem with that. I love that.”
By going to a two-year junior college, Lawson also knew he would see immediate action for the Wildcats, but he did not take the opportunity for granted.
“When I started in fall camp, I wasn’t the No. 1 guy,” he said. “But as the year has gone on, we’ve added some packages where we use two tight ends and run the ball a lot, so that’s how I get on the field. And when I get on the field, I try to hit someone.
“I didn’t come here expecting to be the starter right away, but I expected to play, and that’s what has happened.”
Lawson played in all of the Wildcats’ games this season. He caught two passes for 23 yards, including an 18-yard TD toss in his team’s win over Northland Community & Technical College on Oct. 5.
He took greater pride, though, in blocking for a rushing attack that led the country by averaging 216 yards per contest.
“I really didn’t set any specific goals, like playing in a certain number of games or catching passes or anything like that,” Lawson said. “My main goal every day is to ‘win the day.’ I just want to get better every day. When I say, ‘win the day,’ that means if stuff doesn’t go your way, you don’t give up. When you face adversity, you have to keep going.”
Lawson is majoring in liberal arts with an emphasis in business, with the idea of transferring to a four-year school after next season.
Eventually, Lawson plans to help with his father’s construction business, NHH Building & Restoration in Isanti. For now, though, his focus is on paving the way to football success for others.
“It’s not glamorous, but I learned to love to block,” Lawson said. “I moved to more of a fullback position or tight end in middle school, and I’ve been there ever since. But as long as I’m on the field, I’ll play whatever position the coach wants me to play.”