Three generations strong: Langer family leaves lasting legacy at State

Carson Herbert, Sports Reporter

It’s a fall Saturday morning, hours before the kickoff of a South Dakota State football game. Many fans, mostly Jackrabbit alumni and die-hards, choose to spend time tailgating with family and friends during this time. But one group in particular has a long history and deep roots in playing the game.

If it was possible to bleed yellow and blue, the Langer family might be the best representation, as three generations of Langers have walked the SDSU campus and made an impact athletically in the last 40 years.

With the 2019 Family Weekend approaching on campus, it is nearly impossible to look through the SDSU athletics record books and find a family more mentioned than the Langers.

Jim Langer, who launched the family name as both a football and baseball student-athlete, was followed by his sons Tracy, Craig, Russ and grandson Cole.

Jim played linebacker and offensive line for the football team and excelled as a pitcher and outfielder in baseball. After college, Langer earned a roster spot with the Miami Dolphins. He went on to start at center and win the Super Bowl with the 1972 Dolphins — the only team in NFL history to finish a season undefeated.

Jim’s sons, Tracy, Craig and Russ, represented the Jackrabbit baseball teams from 1989-2001. There was a Langer on all five of the program’s trips to the postseason regionals in the 1990s.

Cole was a standout defensive lineman for the Jacks from 2013-15, where he was a two-time member of the All-Missouri Valley Football Conference Second Team.

But Cole Langer said the SDSU connection goes beyond his dad, uncles and grandfather.

“Pretty much my entire family, mom and dad’s side, even my wife’s family, have all gone to SDSU,” he said. “I grew up going to Jacks games, whether that was baseball, football or basketball and always knew that was where I wanted to go to school and was lucky enough to get a chance to play football there. It is a special place for our family.”

For the past 15 years, the Langer family has spent several game days tailgating Jackrabbit football games before kickoff.

“We started when there were still pine trees standing along the north end zone and you paid $5 for a spot,” Tracy Langer said on the family’s Saturday commitment. “Tailgating is very much a family event. We get there around opening time, set up shelters, grills, tables and fellowship with other SDSU fans.”

But the family is without a key player, as Jim passed away before the 2019 season opener.

Cole said that his grandfather’s presence has been missed, especially during football season.

“It has been a lot different already not having him,” he said. “He was obviously very knowledgeable about the game and he wasn’t afraid to voice his opinion. He was a huge Jacks fan, and even when he didn’t make it to the games, he would either give me a call or send me a text talking about the game.”

Though the Langers have been present during many changes on campus, including the jump to Division I and Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium being built, the tradition lives on and they remain loyal to the yellow and blue.

Tracy continues to be impressed by how the athletic department and campus has developed over the years.

“It really has been amazing to witness the growth of the college since the jump to Division I,” he said. “The previous and current administrations have done a great job of growing and improving SDSU.  As an SDSU alumnus, I am proud of how far SDSU has come as a Division I university.”