For the second installment in our small school 2020 NFL Draft series, my interview with St. John’s quarterback, Jackson Erdmann, takes a dark turn. From a freak neurological illness to playing through injuries, it seemed Erdmann was continually fighting an uphill battle. Then one day, an on-campus flier caught his eye. From there he’d soon realize his football career wasn’t the only thing worth fighting for.

Make sure to read Part I: The Player.

Part II: The Person

Division I has the Heisman and Division II has the Harlon Hill. For Division III, the highest honor is the Gagliardi.

Since 1993, the Gagliardi Trophy has represented excellence on the field, in the classroom, and within the community. With that being said, it’s no surprise that Erdmann was a near-unanimously voted recipient in 2018. He was exciting on the field, particularly studious around campus and was committed to his city. A local Minneapolis news channel recorded his reaction.

“It’s so special considering the year St John’s has had. To be able to bring the Gagliardi Trophy back to St John’s this year, it means a lot. And then to join those big names on the wall…that really means a lot.”

The Gagliardi Trophy is a prestigious honor–especially for St. John’s University.

The award is named after John Gagliardi, the winningest college football coach in history (regardless of division). He coached 64 total seasons with 60 of them for the St. John’s Johnnies. Since it was established, St. John’s has had four players (including Erdmann) bring the trophy back to the house John Gagliardi built.

But Erdmann doesn’t play for the notoriety. While winning the award is great, he’s more happy for St. John’s University receiving it than anything. That’s just the kind of guy he is.

Family values

The Erdmann home believes in loving your neighbor. Erdmann’s parents, Jeff & Ruth, instilled these sort of core values into Jackson and his two sisters at an early age. For as far back as he remembers, Erdmann learned to help others–especially those in need.

Quarterback Jackson Erdmann receives the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team award for his volunteer work Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, after practice at St. John’s University. (Photo: Jason Wachter, [email protected])

Furthermore, Erdmann can attest that anything worth doing is never simple. When your father is your coach, it’s easy to perceive the coaches’ kid is getting a pass in most instances. For Jackson and his dad, that was not the case.

Erdmann expressed how his father was toughest on him in high school. The way he’d ultimately respond went a long way in developing his resiliency on the football field and in life. This virtue would be tested almost immediately.


  1. Shane – Thank you for the great article about Jackson Erdmann. He and the Johnnies had a terrific season in 2018. The Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) is one of the top DIII football conferences in the nation. It will take another stellar season for the Johnnies to claim the conference championship with rivals Bethel, Concordia-Moorhead, St. Thomas, and Gustavus all eyeing the same prize. My classmates and I would be happy to host you for a game in Collegeville, MN in 2019. If you are free October 12 come join our tailgate and watch what should be a marquee match up at The Natural Bowl at St. John’s University’s (one of SI’s top 20 places in the nation to watch a football game) against perennial conference power, Bethel University. The Johnnie faithful appreciate your coverage.

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