Daniel Freitag acknowledges that when he walks the hallways of his high school, people can’t help but approach him with a natural curiosity about his future. This is not unusual for high-level athletes who have multiple scholarship offers from major college programs and must make an important decision about the right path to take.
The difference for Freitag is that the question very rarely is: Which school are you going to pick? The more pressing question is: Which sport are you going to play?
“I hear that question probably every other day,” Freitag said. “It’s classmates, teachers, whatever.”
Freitag, a standout football and basketball player for Jefferson High School in Bloomington, Minn., may be one of the most intriguing prospects in the country given his overwhelming talent and potential in both sports. He is ranked in the 247Sports Composite as a four-star basketball player, the No. 1 prospect in Minnesota and the No. 7 point guard in the 2024 class. Rivals lists Freitag as a four-star wide receiver and safety and the No. 1 football player in the state.
When Freitag handles recruiting calls and visits, he’s now dealing with different coaching staffs from the same school. Freitag has earned basketball scholarship offers from Baylor, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Virginia and Wisconsin. Three of those schools — Kansas State, Minnesota and Wisconsin — have also offered him a football scholarship, as has Notre Dame. Iowa State is showing significant football interest as well.
Wisconsin football became the most recent program to throw its hat in the ring by extending Freitag an offer March 7, almost two years after the Badgers’ basketball program offered him a scholarship. How unusual is that situation? Freitag is the only player during more than 20 years of the internet recruiting rankings era to be offered a scholarship from Wisconsin in both football and basketball.
“It’s been awesome,” Freitag said. “I understand how rare it is for any athlete of any sort to play college sports. And to know that I have the opportunity to go and play both the sports I play at the next level, it’s a great feeling.”
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As for what Freitag will decide, that’s anybody’s guess.
“I wish I knew an answer,” Jefferson football coach Tim Carlson said.
“I’ve been asked that multiple times,” Jefferson basketball coach Jeff Evens said. “My standard answer is I don’t know.”
Freitag has been on the radar as a basketball sensation for much longer than football. He averaged 10.2 points per game as a freshman on the varsity team. After his freshman year, in June 2021, Wisconsin coach Greg Gard and assistant coach Joe Krabbenhoft were so impressed with his skill during an advanced camp in Madison that the Badgers became the first program to offer Freitag a scholarship. Minnesota’s basketball program followed suit a month later. Freitag then exploded for 26.3 points per game in his sophomore season.
“He’s very gifted athletically,” Evens said. “I think he also has a drive and determination to do the other things necessary to keep on bettering himself. Some kids, they just play the game and think that’s enough, but he does the other work with the weight room, watching what kind of foods and liquids he puts in his body. He’s doing everything right.”
Freitag recently completed his junior season, in which he averaged 28.8 points, 9.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. He excelled at driving and drawing fouls, making 218 of 263 free throws (82.9 percent). No other player on his team attempted more than 35 free throws. Evens, who has been at Jefferson for 38 years, coached future first-round NBA Draft picks Cole Aldrich and Kevin Lynch and pointed out that Freitag’s scoring average is higher than both of those players.
Carlson said three qualities separate Freitag from so many of his peers. He describes Freitag’s athletic ability as “off the charts” and added that Freitag’s natural knowledge of the game in both sports couldn’t really be coached. He also highlighted a competitive spirit that wills him to perform in tough moments. Carlson pointed out that, after a poor shooting night this basketball season, Freitag was in the high school gymnasium the next morning before school at 6:45 working on his form.
Freitag’s football rise, meanwhile, was slowed by injury. During the first football game of his sophomore season, he caught five passes for 67 yards, including his team’s only two touchdowns. But he suffered a season-ending broken collarbone on the opening drive of the third quarter. He earned his first football offer last June from Minnesota after attending a camp there.
As a junior, Freitag caught 37 passes for 501 yards and five touchdowns. Carlson said Freitag began the season as a wide receiver but faced double- and even triple-teams. So the coaching staff moved him to play wildcat quarterback. Freitag also returned punts and kicks, though most teams avoided him entirely for fear of surrendering a big play.
He carried 54 times for 505 yards — 9.3 yards per rushing attempt — and scored five touchdowns. Freitag also threw a pair of touchdown passes. He dominated out of the wildcat against Apple Valley when he ran 28 times for 232 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s still learning the intricacies of route running because he missed a year,” Carlson said. “So that was one thing we were working on. But once we put him at the wildcat, he had two games in a row where other coaches are going, ‘OK, that’s just not fair.’”
Defensively, Freitag recorded 15 tackles with four interceptions, four pass breakups and one fumble recovery. Carlson noted he surrendered only one completion in man coverage.
Carlson said Minnesota and Kansas State are recruiting Freitag as a wide receiver. Notre Dame has pitched playing safety to Freitag but will leave the decision up to him if he prefers wide receiver. Freitag said Wisconsin’s coaches are recruiting him as an athlete and that they can determine the exact position down the road.
Given that three schools so far have offered Freitag in two sports, it is natural to wonder whether he could pull off playing both in college. Famous examples of two-sport college athletes in football and basketball include Charlie Ward at Florida State,, Julius Peppers at North Carolina, Tony Gonzalez at Cal, Antonio Gates at Kent State and Jimmy Graham at Miami. Donovan McNabb at Syracuse and Terrell Owens at Tennessee-Chattanooga are other examples.
But attempting both sports, which overlap on the calendar for months at a time, is rare. Even rarer is performing them at the high level Freitag expects.
“Is it possible?” Carlson said. “Yes. Is it probable? I would say no. It’s really tough at that level.”
Freitag, for his part, said he “absolutely” believes he could play both sports.
“Minnesota has put in a great deal of effort to make sure I can do that if I want to,” Freitag said. “Notre Dame and I have had talks about doing both. Kansas State is very open to the idea. I haven’t talked to Wisconsin very much about it, but they seem to be on board with it. But I definitely have the option to.”
Carlson said Freitag has referenced Jalen Suggs several times as someone whose path he aspires to follow. Suggs became the first player in Minnesota state history to win both the Mr. Basketball and Mr. Football Awards. He was a five-star basketball player and the No. 2 combo guard in the 247Sports Composite. He also was a top-15 dual-threat quarterback in the 2020 class. Suggs eventually chose basketball at Gonzaga, played for one season there and became the fifth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic.
Part of Freitag’s thought process may involve which sport provides the best possible path to the pros. Some have expressed concern that, at 6 feet 2 and 180 pounds, he may not have the size necessary for the NBA (Suggs was 6-4 and 205 pounds). On the other hand, as Freitag’s sophomore season illustrated, he runs the risk of major injury as a football player, which generally has a shorter pro shelf life.
“It’s very hard to decide on a college when you’re choosing between football and basketball,” Freitag said. “So I try to just look for the most opportunity and where I feel as if I’m going to be utilized the most or where I can make the largest impact. Where the opportunity is best, that’ll kind of drive my decision at which sport.”
Freitag could be an ideal fit in Wisconsin’s basketball system, which needs a young point guard for the future. Evens said Gard has been impressed with Freitag’s leadership and ability to shoot or create off the dribble and attack the rim. Freitag has made multiple campus visits to Wisconsin for basketball. He also plays on an AAU team, Howard Pulley, that has sent numerous players to the Badgers over the years, including Krabbenhoft, Kammron Taylor, Jordan Taylor, Jared Berggren, Brad Davison and recent Badgers commit Jack Robison, among others.
“I’ve liked Wisconsin for quite a while now,” Freitag said. “Since they offered, I was kind of pleased with how they’ve gone about everything in recruiting me. They were my first offer as well, so that says something. I talk to coach Gard quite often as well. I’d say we’re on the phone and texting about three times a week. I’ve been very impressed with them.”
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On the football front, Freitag said he has spoken primarily to Wisconsin safeties coach Colin Hitschler and said the staff has checked in roughly four to five times a week since February. Freitag said he also has talked to director of recruiting Pat Lambert, as well as head coach Luke Fickell.
“I’m impressed with who he is and how he’s presented himself to me since this has been our first time talking ever,” Freitag said. “It was definitely a good first impression. I see a lot of similarities between the football staff and the basketball staff with who the people are. I get really good vibes from both staffs.”
Freitag said he plans to visit Wisconsin again, this time to learn more about its football program. He also intends on visiting Virginia for basketball. His AAU basketball season is set to begin in a couple of weeks, which could lead to several more scholarship offers with a big summer, right before he dives back into football. He knows he’ll have a big decision to make soon.
“Whatever he decides to do, I will support him 110 percent because he’s such a great kid,” Evens said. “The way that he goes at it, he’ll be successful at the sport he chooses.”
(Photo: Courtesy of Cyndi Nightengale)
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