Alexandria's John Vogeler had visions of playing quarterback at the Division II level in college football coming off a successful career for the Cardinals.
That was the plan going into his freshman year in 2014. Things don't always go to plan, though, and in Vogeler's case, that turned out just fine.
The graduate of Jefferson High School just wrapped up a successful career at Bemidji State University, not as the signal caller for the offense, but as one of the top defensive backs in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. In his final game on Nov. 10, the Beavers dominated Minot State in a 69-7 contest that capped off a 7-4 season for this team.
"It was a great memory to end the career beating a team like that," Vogeler said. "That's always a good feeling, to send the seniors out the right way. Looking back, there's a lot of good memories on that field. It was a fun game to be a part of, and a fun game to end on."
Vogeler grew up playing offense, and that's where he was originally recruited to stay at when he decided to join the Beavers. But college is a much different level. Competition often forces position changes for players across the board. For Vogeler, one thing in particular outweighed his love for playing quarterback.
"You want to get on the field as fast as you can," he said. "That kind of just changed my perspective. I was looking to play anywhere as fast as I could. They suggested DB, and it all worked out."
It took a while. Vogeler redshirted in 2014 before playing limited snaps in his freshman and sophomore seasons. Then as a redshirt junior in 2017, he broke out.
Vogeler played in all 11 games that season and was named NSIC North Division All-Conference First Team Defense. He led Bemidji's defense with five interceptions that season, three of which went for touchdowns. He totaled 46 tackles, broke up six passes and deflected 11 more.
"With that being my first actual season playing defense, to have the season I had, it definitely gave me a great deal of confidence and thinking maybe I could do something with football and be a dominant player in the NSIC," Vogeler said.
Vogeler went into his senior year this fall looking to build on that breakout season. He was named the NSIC Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 29 after having four tackles and two interceptions against St. Cloud State University two days earlier.
Vogeler finished the fall with 44 tackles, four interceptions, three pass break-ups and seven pass deflections. He was part of a defense that made things difficult on opponents all season as the Beavers allowed just 19.1 points per game.
"It started with our coaches," Vogeler said. "Bemidji has been known for their defenses behind (head coach) Brent Bolte. He takes pride in it, and I was definitely happy to be a part of that. We're called the Gang Green. There's a reason. Everyone is on the same page. Everyone has each other's backs out there. We all fly around to the ball and have fun."
Vogeler's career at BSU did not necessarily go to plan, but the change to defensive back worked out well in the end.
"To see where I've come from as a player and also as a man, I've learned things here that I'm going to take away for the rest of my life," he said. "The aspects of this team here, playing for the guy next to you-I'm going to take that with me wherever I go. I'm happy with my career here at BSU. I did a lot of good things, did a lot of things I didn't think I could have done."
And he's not done with the game. Vogeler will graduate this December with a sports management degree and a minor in mass communication. At some point, he might go back to school to get his masters degree in hopes of serving as an athletic director some day.
Before that, he isn't giving up on continuing his football career. Vogeler wants to play professionally, no matter what league that might be in. He is signed up to play in three upcoming bowl games in an attempt to showcase himself and is planning on signing with an agent soon.
"That's my complete focus right now," Vogeler said. "You can work the rest of your life, but you can only play sports for so long. I have a lot of good things coming up here in my life, and I'm definitely going to take advantage of them and see where football can take me."