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There’s been a fair amount of change in Adam DeBruycker’s collegiate career. But, at the center of it all, there’s always been football.

A multi-sport standout during his time at Choteau High School, DeBruycker starred in football, along with wrestling and track. A first team all-district running back as a junior, he made it first team on both sides of the ball as a senior, adding defensive back to the list. The District 1B MVP his senior season, he left Choteau with more than 2,000 rushing yards.

He was just as successful on the mat, going 36-2 that winter before finishing third at the state wrestling meet. He was three times an All-State wrestler and once All-State in track, earning an even dozen letters by the time he was through.

From Choteau, DeBruycker went to Missoula, redshirting his freshman season with the Griz. But he would soon decide to make a change – last summer leading him to Carroll.

“I was looking for a change in scenery, I guess, and I liked Carroll coming out of high school,” DeBruycker said. “Coach Van Diest was really good to me, and I loved their tradition. And, what, six national championships over 10 years?”

A strong safety at UM, DeBruycker came into fall camp with the Saints as a running back. After a few weeks, he was moved to outside linebacker. It was a bit of a transition, but the former Class B standout said the level of support from coaches and players made it a relatively smooth changeover. Playing as a backup at linebacker, he recorded 26 tackles last season.

Of course, that wasn’t the end of the changes.

“During winter ball, Coach had the idea of putting me in the secondary,” DeBruycker said. “With Greg Tucker coming back from injury, that allowed me to get a few extra reps while he healed up. And then Greg and James Dowgin and I worked really well together as a team.”

So, an important part of the Carroll secondary came together. That trio, along with freshman Tucker Johnson, have indeed worked well together at safety. In fact, DeBruycker is the team’s second-leading tackler with 17 stops this season, just one behind linebacker Shayne Durbin. His 14 solo stops are a team high.

He was so productive in the opening game this season that, despite a 38-35 loss at Southern Oregon, he picked up the Frontier Conference’s Defensive Player of the Week award. It was a good feeling, being honored – but DeBruycker wasn’t satisfied.

“It has been really exciting. I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to get on the field, and I just want to give my one-eleventh,” he said. “It was exciting that some of my work paid off. But, all in all, I would trade it in for the win. Anyone on this team would.”

That made last week’s result far more satisfying. A bit more so, with DeBruycker being one of three Saints to pull down an interception in the win over rival Montana Tech.

“He’s a good addition,” coach Mike Van Diest said. “He’s physical, and he’s very smart. He and Dowgin and Tucker give us a good rotation.

“He’s a great competitor, and you can see his improvement over the spring just in his mental development. He’s playing well, but I know he wants to still get better still.”

Constant change hasn’t been the theme just on the football field, either.

At one time an athletic training major while in Missoula, DeBruycker has meandered through the educational offerings of college as well. An honor roll student throughout high school, he’s now an elementary education major.

His brother, Raymond, teaches middle school math in Missoula. DeBruycker has taken the time to sit in one some of his classes, and believes that is the direction he is meant to go.

“I’ve switched majors, I think, five times now,” he said. “I’ve been exploring options, and every time I’ve switched it’s seemed to lead me back to education. This is my second semester now (in elementary ed) and I’m feeling pretty comfortable. I’ve liked the classes so far, and I think it’s where I’m supposed to be.”

That confidence about his finally found education path can be seen on the field as well. More comfortable with his defensive reads this season, DeBruycker can now make on-the-fly adjustments when needed. He is more comfortable in knowing just where he needs to be on the field. His technique, fundamentals and execution have all improved, and the results have been evident through these first two games.

That’s because, despite any change, football has always been the center.

That was true even in high school, even when he was in a different uniform. Sure, he was an All-State wrestler. And, of course, he wanted to success every time out. But, when it was all boiled down, it was all for football.

“I always loved football the most,” he said. “The biggest part of why I did the others was to help my football ability.

“Like any young kid, I’ve just always had the dream of playing college football. And what better place to do that than at Carroll?”

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Troy Shockley is on Twitter @IR_TroyShockley and be reached at troy.shockley@helenair.com.

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