RIGBY — Nathan Franz celebrated his 18th birthday by finalizing his athletic future.
In the presence of family members, teammates, classmates, friends and coaches and sporting a sweatshirt with his new college colors, Franz signed his letter of intent to throw for Utah State track on Wednesday in the Rigby High School commons. His athletic scholarship will cover his tuition, and Utah State is holding that scholarship for him upon his return from his two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Franz is not the first member of his family to pursue college track. Older brother Justin threw for Idaho State, and he said Justin was a big help during the recruiting process, particularly with deciding between track and football. Franz did contact Utah State in December, made his visit two weeks ago and received his scholarship offer last week.
“I definitely debated back and forth at first,” Franz said. “He’s the one who told me to email the Utah State coach. He just attested to the fact that college track is really good. It’s easier on your body.”
Franz is the third local athlete to sign with Utah State track this school year. Two distance runners, Madison’s Spencer Stutz and Shelley’s Karlie Callahan, signed in December and earlier this month, respectively. He is also the second Rigby track athlete to sign a letter of intent this year. Fellow thrower Mateya Mobley signed with Wyoming in January.
Wyoming, College of Idaho and Southern Virginia were among the other schools to recruit him, but Franz said the interest Utah State took in him and how welcoming they were sold him. He added that Logan’s proximity to eastern Idaho was a factor, as was Utah State’s scholarship offer coming after he injured the same bone in the same foot twice within the last year, therefore limiting his football action.
“I wasn’t able to get as many recruiting opportunities for football,” Franz said. “This was an offer I couldn’t say no to.”
Franz has placed third in boys shot put at Idaho’s track state championships every season of his Rigby career thus far, in 4A as a freshman and 5A as a sophomore and junior. He placed fourth at the Simplot Games in Pocatello last week. He said he is healthy right now, crediting his coaches for keeping him conditioned, and said he aims to beat his personal best of 57 feet, 1.5 inches in shot put.
“I’m hoping I can get a record at the state meet and see if I can get 65,” Franz said.