Quarterback JT Denhartog, the man behind the Eau Claire offense

UW-Eau Claire Football starting quarterback JT Denhartog opens up about life and football


Photo by Kelsey Smith

Quarterback JT Denhartog escapes the UW-Stevens Point defense, picking up yards for the Blugolds.

For UW-Eau Blugold Football starting quarterback, JT Denhartog, football was something he was born to do.

A sophomore studying business management, Denhartog has been playing football since he was young and has never stopped loving the game through the years.

“I was born to love it, I guess,” Denhartog said. “My dad was a high school football coach and so I was always at his practices hanging around his players throughout my entire childhood. So, I didn’t really have a choice.”

Denhartog, a native of Minnesota, attended Hopkins High School where he played quarterback (and a small amount of linebacker) with his father as his coach. He said he would not have wanted it any other way, emphasizing how great of a father son experience it was for him.

Originally attending the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Denhartog transferred to Eau Claire last year after being told he could no longer play at Duluth due to a neck injury.

When asked why he chose Eau Claire, Denhartog said the reputation of the school was important to him.

“(Eau Claire) is known for being a really good business school and by the time I transferred I already knew that I was going to be a management major,” He said. “This was by far the best business school out of the places I was looking.”

Denhartog also had a good relationship with the coaches and a fun experience when he came to visit. He got to know wide receiver, Matthew Knapp, and felt the team really fit well with what he wanted.

Head coach, Dan Larson, said Denhartog stood out as a good candidate for the starting quarterback position, early on.

“I think he’s done a good job picking up our offense, I think he’s done a good job of, you know, rallying the teammates.” Larson said. “We challenged him to step up his game a few weeks ago and he’s done that.”

Larson emphasized that Denhartog had a lot of things going for him right now, apart from just being able to run and throw the ball. Larson said he is an extremely gifted runner, showing speed that you would find from a wide receiver or running back position, making him a dual threat. He has great leadership skills as well, having been elected captain as a sophomore.

This dual threat may be just what the Blugold offense needs. After the season the Blugolds football team had last year, staying headstrong and determined is important for players.

“I’m a very competitive person and I hate losing, so we have a season like we did last year and it’s a huge motivator to come back and play really well the next year.” Denhartog said. “I think anyone can see we are improving greatly everytime we go out there and I think it’s going to get really exciting here in the near future.”

At the homecoming football game this year, the Blugolds put up a strong fight against UW-Stevens Point, losing by only nine points. Stevens Point was a tough opponent, being undefeated, but the Blugolds didn’t go down without a fight. Eau Claire remained only one point behind Stevens Point heading into the fourth quarter, before Stevens Point ultimately improved upon their lead.

The team has a heavy schedule and dedicates a lot of time, for the good of the team.

Denhartog said his weekly game preparation is similar to that of his fellow teammates. They all go in and watch previous game film with the coaches, all meeting with their individual positional coaches.

Luckily for the quarterbacks, Larson is their positional coach, so Denhartog said they are constantly meeting with him throughout the week.

Mondays are the teams only day off, with Tuesday being football intensive. Denhartog said from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. life is purely football and you’re expected to put in time on your own, too, which can be tough, seeing as he is taking 15 credits as well.

“I think the hardest part is trying to balance still having a personal life,” Denhartog said. “It’s hard to make time for family and friends during the football season because football takes up so much time, but that’s just part of the process and it’s all worth it in the end.”

Denhartog especially enjoys the hour he gets to see his family on Saturdays and says they are really supportive of him.

In the offseason, he gets to enjoy a normal life doing “whatever guys like to do”, as he put it. Denhartog said he loves fishing in the summer and since coming to Eau Claire has discovered the joys of floating down the Chippewa River.

The future for Denhartog looks bright, according to coach Larson, who believes Denhartog can work his way into being one of the top players in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (WIAC), in the quarterback position.

“He’s got a long ways to go still, and I think he has the work ethic and determination to do it,” Larson said. “We are extremely excited that he’s in our roster here for the next couple of years and we are looking forward to big things from him.”

And with the second half of the football season about to begin, Denhartog is confident the Blugolds will bwe able to come out and win a few more games.

“I think we can definitely make some noise.” Denhartog said. “I don’t think there’s any team that is that much better athletically or better than us scheme wise. So I think we can compete with everyone.”