NORTHERN CAMBRIA – When scouring through where to take his football talents next, Northern Cambria senior Joe Wagner Jr. certainly could have picked a program with recent success.
But even after visiting programs such as Indiana (Pa.) and Slippery Rock, which finished 10-2 and 13-1 in 2019, respectively, there was just something about Clarion and its potential that caught his eye.
During a signing ceremony Wednesday at Northern Cambria High School, Wagner signed his National Letter of Intent to become a Golden Eagle.
“I visited IUP and Slippery Rock. Even though those are great schools, I felt the best with Clarion,” said Wagner, who plans to major in computer science. “The campus was beautiful. It felt like home. I think they are building something special, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Wagner will play for Clarion coach Chris Weibel, who is entering his fifth year as the Golden Eagles’ head coach. Clarion competes in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference in Division II of the NCAA.
“Clarion is building a great program,” Wagner said. “I love their offensive play style and the coaching staff. They have a brand new weight room that is amazing. I can’t wait to get started.”
Wagner was one of 35 players announced as part of Clarion’s 2020 recruiting class. Last season, the Golden Eagles went 3-8.
“I am excited about this 2020 recruiting class, including our midyear transfers and other additions,” Weibel said in a press release. “They bring not only exceptional speed and size to our program, but also strong academics and high character. We hold our student-athletes to high standards in those areas. We are very optimistic about where our program is heading and this group is part of that.”
Wagner was a key ingredient to a Northern Cambria team that rushed for 3,085 yards this past season and accumulated 4,420 yards of total offense.
He had 34 tackles and one sack defensively his senior year and was a four-year starter with the Colts.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with great coaches in my high school career, so I’ve learned a lot of good techniques,” Wagner said. “That has gotten me to where I am today. What sets me apart (from other players) is I want it so bad. I will give Clarion everything I have on and off the field.”
While Wagner dominated on the field over his career, the challenge only gets more difficult at the next level.
The defensive linemen he will face are going to be bigger, faster and stronger, posing a daunting task for Wagner.
But he accepts the challenge and is prepared to double his efforts to prepare for the next level.
“I could improve on every aspect of my game, but I’m trying to improve my flexibility, strength and speed,” Wagner said. “I stretch twice a day and lift five days a week, but at the high school gym, there isn’t a lot of speed things I can do. So I do ladder work two times a week to work on footwork. As soon as the weather gets better, I’ll be at the field working every day.”
Wagner is the son of Joe and Danielle Wagner, of Northern Cambria.