FORTVILLE — It’s never been difficult for Mt. Vernon’s Juwann Nelson to narrow down an entertaining moment with former teammate Blake Slunaker.

A 6-foot, 285-pound center, it would be easy to remember Slunaker for his sheer size or physicality.

However, as big as he plays on the field, Slunaker’s personality is just as big off of it.

Behind the burly shoulder pads, intimidating facemask and powerful blocks, Slunaker, a 2016 graduate, leaves Mt. Vernon as an “undeniable legend.”

Story continues below gallery

“He’s literally the funniest guy I know,” Nelson, a former Marauders wide receiver, said. “I don’t know of anyone at Mt. Vernon who didn’t like being around him.”

Not only is he popular among the halls of Mt. Vernon, Slunaker is well-liked on Twitter, dropping one-liners left and right to his 1,118 followers.

On May 25 near the last day of high school, Slunaker tweeted, “I think it’s safe to say I’ll be leaving Mt. Vernon as an undeniable legend,” which received 46 “likes.”

On the same day he posted, “I’m glad I’ll be graduating high school with no enemies and no loose ends.”

“I just say what is on my mind, and I guess people want to hear what I have to say,” Slunaker said.

And when he speaks, people listen. The best story to pop into Nelson’s head dates back to the fall of 2015 during the National League Division Series of the MLB playoffs — a heated series between longtime rivals, the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals.

It also was nearing the end of the high school football season, a serious time at practice with little time for horseplay.

However, Slunaker found his moment.

“Everyone gets out of conditioning today unless you are a Cubs fan,” Slunaker said before Mt. Vernon head coach Doug Armstrong, also an avid Cardinals fan, could blow his whistle.

“He ran those sprints by himself … our starting center,” Nelson said.

That personality — mixed with his desire to succeed — landed Slunaker a new home. He will attend the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois, for football in the fall where he plans to study a trade he’s become rather familiar with — communication.

He’s had practice, too. Slunaker spent time writing about sports for the school newspaper and likes to listen to and make music during his time off the field, as well.

For the Marauders (6-5) last season, Slunaker, a two-year starter, helped a mainly rush-dominant offense rack up 2,852 yards and 33 touchdowns on the ground.

He also aided Mt. Vernon quarterback Jimmy Campbell in throwing and rushing for over 500 yards before an injury limited him to just six games.

“He was the iron man of our team and played in every game,” Campbell said. “He was consistent and a leader for us when some of the seniors got hurt.”

The former center-quarterback duo was able to take the field one last time together Friday at Anderson High School in the East-West All-Star Classic hosted by the Indiana Football Hall of Fame.

Playing on the East team, Campbell and Slunaker walked away from their final high school contest with a 35-13 win.

“To represent my school and play with some of the guys I had competed against over the years was awesome,” Slunaker said. “We all had a blast last week practicing together.”

Mr. Popular

Blake Slunaker, Mt. Vernon Football 2016

Position: Center

College: University of St. Francis (Illinois)

Favorite Teams: Cubs, Bears, Bulls and Pacers

Favorite Athletes: Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Jimmy Butler

Favorite Food: Anything besides mac and cheese or olives

Other Interests: Baseball, writing and listening to and making music

SHARE
Kris Mills is a sports reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 317-477-3230 or kmills@greenfieldreporter.com.