Jackson Erdmann, the former Rosemount star quarterback and walk-on at Penn State last fall, quietly enrolled at St. John’s this month. He changed his Twitter bio to read “SJU Football #Johnnies,” but otherwise kept his transfer from the Big Ten to the MIAC under the radar.
His move to Collegeville, however, could make a big splash in the longstanding Johnnies-Tommies rivalry.
Jacques Perra, the former Roseville star quarterback and Gophers third-string quarterback last season, on Tuesday announced that he would transfer to St. Thomas.
Their arrival could propel the 115-year-old rivalry to new heights over the next three years.
“It will definitely make it more interesting, especially with our game in high school in the  state semifinals my senior year, how close and good of the game that was,” Perra said. “And then we both ended up at Big Ten schools and then coming back to smaller D-III schools in the MIAC. Especially, with how big the Tommie-Johnnie rivalry already is … it won’t make it more interesting, but it could add more effect from me and him playing on those teams.”
St. Thomas went to the NCAA Division III title game last month, finishing the season with a 14-1 record after losing to Mount Union of Ohio. St. John's went 10-2, with the losses coming against the Tommies during the regular season and again in the playoffs.
Once the two caught wind that the other would leave behind Division I football and transfer, they struck up a conversation on social media where the idea of future battles in the MIAC sparked.
“[Erdmann] asked me where I was going and told me he was going to go to St. John’s. I was considering St. Thomas at the time and was looking at other schools,” Perra said. “We were thinking about how fun it would be to end up playing each other in that huge rivalry game if I did end up at St. Thomas, which I did.”
Erdmann told the St. Cloud Times last week he wanted to be closer to home and that during the recruiting process last year St. John’s was one of his top choices.
“I love the coaching staff here and I really wanted to be a Johnnie,” Erdmann told Frank Rajkowski of the St. Cloud Times.
He also said, “In the short-term, I just want to get settled in here and meet all the guys. I still have to get used to everything. Then I just want to work hard and see what happens. I’ll do whatever the coaches think will best help the team.”
Roseville football coach Chris Simdorn, who helped Perra re-engage in the recruiting process after leaving the Gophers this month, expects the former prep football stars to compete for starting jobs right away.
“Each of them is going to have to go in there, even with their exposure to the Big Ten, and earn the starting spot,” Simdorn said. “I would expect that to happen and expect the rivalry to start this year and into the next three years. It’s a great opportunity for both kids.”
Neither quarterback will have to sit out a season because they’re moving to a lower division. Perra redshirted his freshman year at Minnesota in 2014 and only played in one game last season. He has three years of eligibility remaining. Erdmann never played at Penn State as a freshman this past fall and will carry over his four years of eligibility.
Perra was the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year and Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year as a senior at Roseville.
The Gophers recruited him as a preferred walk-on in 2014. Perra looked like he might compete for playing time during spring practice last March, but entered camp with a sore elbow. He was third on the depth chart this past season behind Mitch Leidner and freshman Demry Croft and only appeared in one game against Purdue.
Erdmann was a First Team All-State quarterback and a finalist for Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year during his senior season. Erdmann and Rosemount held off Perra and Roseville 35-28 in the 2013 Class 6A state semifinals to advance to the state championship game.
Erdmann threw for 71 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown. Perra threw for 296 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 99 yards and one touchdown.
“They’re very similar,” Simdorn said. “Very similar in size. Both have strong arms. Jackson, in high school, was a little more of a runner than Jacques was. Jacques has the ability to run, but would like to stay in the pocket and get his reads and get the ball out.
“Both are well known athletes here in the metro area. Both had a lot of success and are quality players coming from a Division I program to a Division III program and are certainly going to evaluate the play at quarterback and for their teams.”