Current team captain and four-year starter Landen Barger, offensive and defensive lineman for the Yelm Tornados, found his future home in Butte, Montana, as the reigning South Sound Conference Lineman of the Year committed to the Montana Tech Orediggers on Sept. 21.
Barger, standing 6 feet, 2 inches and weighing 300 pounds, was crucial in Yelm’s 3A state championship team in 2022. On the defensive side of the ball as a junior, Barger collected 48 tackles and two sacks throughout the season. He was a driving force at nose tackle for the Tornados, as he opened gaps for linebackers Brayden Platt and Ray Wright to fly upfield and make tackles constantly throughout the season.
Barger said the ultimate factor in his commitment to Montana Tech was the personalized connection with each coach.
“Every coach cared about what I was doing on and off the field. Whether it was coach (Dan) Thatcher asking how my family is doing or it was coach (Kyle) Samson asking about my extracurricular activities, they always made an extra effort to be in the know,” Barger said. “Another reason I chose Tech was that they are a copy of my hometown. They carry the same energy as Yelm. It’s the same family feeling when watching the team.”
The reigning South Sound Conference Lineman of the Year said his relationship with the Montana Tech staff is already growing strong, and he looks forward to getting to know defensive line coach Jorge Magana as he finishes up his commitment process with the program.
While he remains a Tornado, Barger said one of his biggest goals as a senior is to see his team repeat as 3A state champions on the gridiron.
“My own personal goal is to be, without a doubt, the most dominant lineman on the field. I want teams to sit in film and worry about number 75,” Barger said. “As an Oredigger, I’ll go and find where I’ll make the most impact for the team. I’d also like to involve myself in the community as much as I can, whether it’s coaching or training.”
Barger, who will play on the defensive side of the ball for Montana Tech, said he looks forward to learning the Orediggers systems and schemes and adjusting to new coaching styles.
“Every practice is a battle for a spot on the line, and I gotta be prepared for that,” Barger said.
As a senior, Barger has totaled two sacks and two tackles for loss through four games. He’ll compete on Thursday, Sept. 28 in a South Sound Conference matchup against the North Thurston Rams, 2-2, at South Sound Stadium in Lacey.
While he already excels on the football field, Barger took up powerlifting in the off-season and secured a first place overall at the Washington State High School powerlifting meet on April 15 at Snohomish High School. He won the meet with a squat, bench and deadlift total of 1,405 pounds.
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