Brandon Cruse will be in the NFL this fall, it’s official!

Pierre native has made the big-time for football officials
Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 10:56 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Years after he last played for the Pierre Governors, Brandon Cruse is still running around the football field on game days.

He’s just wearing a different kind of uniform... And soon will be doing it at the sport’s highest level, the National Football League.

Brandon Cruse is one of the top speakers at the Sioux Empire Football Officials Clinic, though it’s quite a departure from what the Pierre native used to say to referees. “No, I yelled at them! For how poor I was athletically I think I made up for it with my competitive spirit and of course the officials kind of got in the way!” Cruse says.

When he finished playing football, basketball and baseball as a prep and went to college in Rapid City, Brandon missed being on the field, so he took a path he never expected back. “19-years old, Rapid City, it was a JV game between Spearfish and Rapid City Central. I stepped on the field, the game kicked off, and I just said this is awesome! And it was an immediate passion.” Brandon says.

What started on a JV field moved up to the ranks of the SDHSAA varsity games and eventually into college and the Big 12, including the 2021 FBS National Championship game. “Every level up brings with it a better athlete. So the game moves faster, the techniques is a little bit better. Qutie frankly they know how to cheat a little bit better!” Cruse says.

“A couple years ago when I was in a state championship I emailed him about a couple questions about some things we were doing with replay for the first time and how to talk on the microphone and things like that. Just some things that people don’t even think about when you’re reffing football.” Sioux Empire Officials Committee member Jim Ricketts Jr. says.

“There’s things that we need to learn in terms of detecting those actions and just keeping up with the play.” Brandon says.

And it will get a whole lot faster next year when Cruse begins work in the NFL as an umpire, getting one of a coveted ten new official jobs for the league heading into 2022. “What really comes to mind is how fortunate I am because how many good officials, REALLY good officials, will never get this chance that I’ve been given. So it’s a powerful thing to think about.” Cruse says.

In a time where it’s become difficult to recruit new referees, coming back to the Sioux Falls each year for the clinic is important for Brandon. “This is the 21st one, I think I’ve been coming for the last 18.” Cruse says.

“Was in these guys’ seats and now here he is, going to the NFL, that’s pretty special for us. Even though that’s not the purpose of our clinic, to say that one of our guys got there, that is pretty cool.” Rickets Jr. says. To show that the rewards of officiating outweigh the negatives. “Lead you to meet all sorts of new people. The bus trips that I did as an athlete in high school, it’s the same on the van rides to the game and back in officiating. The camaraderie is there.” Brandon says.

And that it’s possible to reach a level where there thousands of people make it pretty hard to hear any hecklers!

Zach Borg, Dakota News Now Sports.

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