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Matt Sacia had an overwhelming positive football experience at Wartburg College. He set multiple school records, ignited the program to back-to-back conference championships and was a finalist on two occasions for the Gagliardi Trophy, given to the top student-athlete in Division III football.

In the past several months, Wartburg’s coaching staff has used Sacia’s development and success as a recruiting pitch to lure another North Scott quarterback into its program.

It worked.

Nile McLaughlin announced on social media Wednesday evening he’ll continue his football career with the Knights in Waverly this fall.

“They really have been recruiting me hard, telling me they really want me and really think I can make an immediate impact in the program,” McLaughlin said. “It was a good feeling to have that.

“I wanted to play right away. With some of the bigger schools, I didn't think I could make a huge impact right away. Wartburg was a good fit for me.”

McLaughlin received scholarship offers from Division II programs Southwest Minnesota State, St. Cloud State and Wayne State (Nebraska) last summer.

In the end, McLaughlin chose Wartburg over Drake (non-scholarship program) and a preferred walk-on opportunity with Northern Iowa.

The Panthers were in need of a punter immediately. There also would be a chance to play quarterback, but they already were bringing in two other signal callers on scholarship in this recruiting class.

“I just didn’t see that as a good fit for me,” he said.

The 6-foot-3 and 205-pound McLaughlin steered the Lancers to a 9-2 season and a trip to the Class 3A state quarterfinals this past fall. The all-state punter and All-Metro quarterback threw for 2,015 yards and accounted for 23 touchdowns versus only three interceptions.

McLaughlin said he has talked with Sacia about his experience at Wartburg.

“The thing is, Wartburg runs a very similar offense to what we run at North Scott,” McLaughlin said. “That really helped me know I could learn the offense a little faster.

“Everything I’ve heard about Wartburg is good. It just felt right.”

Wartburg has five returning quarterbacks listed on its roster for 2019 — three sophomores, a junior and a senior. Noah Dodd was Sacia’s backup last season, completing 15 of 21 passes for 176 yards as a junior.

How quickly can McLaughlin get on the field?

“It is tough to tell right now,” he said, “but if I can learn the offense fast enough, there is a possibility I could play right away. We’ll see how it goes.”

McLaughlin is leaning toward a degree in the health care field, possibly nursing. His mother, Christa, is a family physician.

“Recruiting is a long, hard process,” McLaughlin said. “I didn’t know what I was getting into when it started, so it is nice to have it done. It is just a relief.”


Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.