Blake Gimbel: beyond the lights


Each Saturday throughout the fall lights come on, fans fill the bleachers and hopeful athletes try to prevail as they battle in a true test of strength, character and determination. Not many football players across the NSIC are responsible for more of those cheers from excited fans than SMSU’s quarterback Blake Gimbel.
Gimbel grew up with football. “3rd grade was my first year I played football,” Gimbel said. “In Marshalltown (IA) we start tackle football in 3rd grade, so that’s when I started playing. I had always liked football before that point and knew I would be playing in the future.”
Like so many young boys, Gimbel played multiple sports growing up but football remained his number one sport. “I played soccer, baseball, football and basketball. I was on traveling teams for all these sports growing up in grade school,” Gimbel said.
As the years went on, Gimbel decided he should focus on one sport rather than spreading himself too thin. “During high school, I focused on football and basketball as they were my favorites,” said Gimbel.
It turned out this was the exact right decision for the SMSU star. Gimbel holds multiple records for passing in the state of Iowa including single season passing yards, attempts and completions. All of which he still holds to this day. He even passed an old Iowa Hawkeye quarterback James Vandenberg in passing yards. “That was special to me because of how big of a Hawkeye fan I am,” said Gimbel.
These records include a game in his junior year in which he threw for 567 yards and 7 touchdowns in one game. A game that Gimbel claims to be his favorite moment from his high school career. “It was pretty unbelievable. Without my teammates around me none of it would have happened because they played a large part in all of it,” he said.
The next step in Gimbel’s football and academic career was choosing where he would like to go to college. “I chose SMSU largely in part because of Coach Sauter,” said Gimbel. The quarterback is like an extension of the head coach on the field so it was important for Gimbel to have a good relationship with the head coach.
Gimbel redshirted his freshman year, and filled in for an injured Charlie Kern for a couple of games the next year before he got the starting job in his third year at SMSU.
When he did get the starting job, Gimbel took it in stride. “I think mentally I stay cool, calm, and collected on the field. I watch and think very highly of Aaron Rodgers and I try to portray that same swagger that he has out there.”
This helped him very much in his first year starting, as the Mustangs bounced back from a sub-par season to being a threat in the NSIC again.
Building on two great seasons, Gimbel and the Mustangs came into the 2017 football season with high hopes. The Mustangs got off to a fast start, beginning the season 2-0. Then the worst thing possible happened.
“The play I got hurt still runs through my mind every day,” said Gimbel. It was a play they had rehearsed time and time again. Gimbel knew it like the back of his hand. “My two primary receivers were covered to the field side, and my backside dig route was double covered. My only option was to take off and run.”
“As I took off a linebacker came up to fill. Being competitive and wanting to get the first down, I lowered my shoulder and our heads collided. My neck shot straight back into my body and my entire right side went numb.”
Gimbel did not break any bones, but went in for an MRI that revealed he had torn his labrum.
The Mustangs struggled in Gimbel’s absence, but Gimbel still did his best to lead his teammates. “I thought I did a pretty good job stepping into a different role of being on the sidelines instead of on the field. I brought a great mood and attitude to practice,” said Gimbel. “During games I looked for things I saw from the sidelines so I could relay it to the QB’s after each series.”
Gimbel is now in the rehabilitation portion of his recovery. He goes in to the SMSU training room every day to receive help from the trainers. As of right now, he is just trying to get his range of motion back. “I will not throw a football until roughly April,” he said.
Gimbel received a medical redshirt, meaning he will be eligible to play one more season for SMSU.
College football is hard to predict because student athletes are coming and leaving so often. One thing is for sure, however. With Blake Gimbel under center, the Mustangs have a great chance to win every game on any given Saturday.