EL DORADO, Kan. Headed into the final game of the regular season, at 8-3, the eleventh ranked Butler Grizzlies are one of four teams from the Jayhawk conference ranked in the top 20 nationally.
If you look at the Grizzlies roster, you’ll see the team has more players from Kansas on their offensive line, then Garden City, Hutch and Independence have on their entire roster.
Three of them are from Goddard.
Sophomores Chod Morrow and AJ Vang, and freshman JJ Crawford have played football together since middle school. They were all part of the Lion team that went 11-2 and lost in double OT in the 5A state championship in 2016.
Now at Butler, they’re the foundation of the Grizzlies offensive line.
“We can trust each other more, we trust because we’ve built that trust over so many years of playing together,” sophomore AJ Vang said. “We know what we need to do, and what we need to do to fix things.”
Vang and Morrow have received one division one offer to the University of North Alabama. Crawford, not even finished with his first collegiate season, has already collected seven. His offers include USF, North Alabama, UTSA, New Mexico State, Southern Mississippi, Coastal Carolina, and North Texas.
“People don’t think we can do it and I love proving people wrong,” Crawford said. “We’re all big dudes, were getting offers, and I’m just really happy for all of us.”
In 2016 the Kansas Jayhawk Community College conference eliminated the out of state roster restrictions placed on football teams in the conference.
In 2019, of the four nationally ranked teams from the conference, at number 11, Butler is the only team with a sizable chunk of its roster from Kansas, with 31.
Garden City, Hutch, and Independence have just six Kansas kids on their roster combined.
“With the change in recruiting, we try to still build off of it with Kansas kids, and these three are really what this program has been built on for years,” Offensive line coach Nate Haremza said. “It’s Kansas offensive linemen, and they’ve really kind of been the new wave of it.”
The Grizzlies will host 3rd ranked Garden City on Saturday for the regular season finale at 7. If Butler wins, it will force a four-way tie for the Jayhawk Conference title.