National Signing Day Wrap Up

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1. First new class for KU/K-State – Wednesday marked National Signing Day, still a major event even after the early signing period in the fall was created a couple of years ago. NSD, historically the first week in February, brought the official end to the recruiting cycle.

Both Kansas and Kansas State underwent coaching changes this season with Les Miles the new Jayhawk coach, and Chris Klieman at Kansas State. Kansas had strong in-roads in the area, most notably with Andale tight end Mason Fairchild. He was offered under the former Jayhawk staff, but elected to commit to South Dakota. However, soon after Miles came on board, Fairchild flipped his commitment to KU.

KU had eight in-state commitments, and Kansas State had nine.

2.Division IIs lead – Junior college football signings have significantly gone down since the Jayhawk Conference allowed unlimited out-of-state signings three years ago. That allowed the Division IIs and NAIAs to increase their Kansas signings, especially last year. This Signing Day, the four Division IIs, Fort Hays, Washburn, Emporia State and Pittsburg State, led the way with big classes.

Fort Hays, the two-time defending MIAA champions, had 18 in-state signings, including Derby all-purpose standout Hunter Igo, Maize lineman Noah Stanton and Osborne’s Darnell Holloway, who flipped his choice from Emporia State to FHSU. Igo was Top 11 all classes, and Holloway was the Eight-Man, Division II Offensive Player of the Year.

Fort Hays, which has reached the Division II playoffs the last two years, heavily focused on size, including Norton tight end Hayden Wilfong (6-foot-6, 230). Wiltfong held offers from Butler, Emporia State and a Priority Walk-On from Kansas State, among others. FHSU had a smaller senior class this past fall and signed slightly fewer players than 2018 when it had 31 high schoolers, 21 from Kansas.

3. Washburn, Emporia with area signings; Birch back to Kansas – Both Washburn and Emporia State had successful 2018 seasons with bowl appearances. Washburn picked up 14 Kansas high schoolers, including Derby’s Isaac Keener, Top 11 for all classes and the Class 6A Defensive Player of the Year. Washburn had 14 last season, too.

Salina Central’s Taylon Peters, one of the state’s top running backs and wrestlers, signed with the Ichabods. Conway Springs’ defensive end Chase Ast, one of the state’s strongest players, is also headed to Washburn, along with Carroll wide receiver Gunner Lynch, and Derby kicker Jackson Syring. Washburn collected 10 Missouri signings. Emporia State had 14 Kansas natives, similar to last year.

Conway Springs’ defensive lineman Daniel Becker, the Central Plains Defensive Player of the Year, inked with the Hornets. Andover Central lineman Ian Carpenter (6-3, 310) collected a Shrine Bowl selection en route to an ESU signing.

Campus wide receiver Tyler Kahmann also signed. Additionally, Andover Central’s Jordan Birch, a highly acclaimed running back and hurdler, started his career at Illinois State before he transferred to Emporia State and enrolled in classes in January. Andover lineman Will Valentas, former at Butler CC, came to Emporia State, too.

Pittsburg State signed 38 players for coach Tim Beck, in his tenth season with the Gorillas. That included Chaparral’s Jake Burke, a finalist for 2A Player of the Year on both offense and defense. Burke was a multi-purpose quarterback and defensive back. Goddard kicker Gentry Cole also signed with the Gorillas.

4. Key players go FCS – Multiple key players signed with FCS (former Division I-AA). That included five area standouts led by Dodge City lineman Evan Darville, Kapaun running back Scott Valentas, Colby all-purpose threat Jordan Schippers and Pratt’s Travis Theis, also a Top 11 selection. In particular, FHSU pursued Darville and Schippers and Theis held multiple Division II offers.

Darville went to Southeast Missouri State, Schippers headed to Western Illinois and Theis signed with South Dakota. Valentas, with a significant number of Division I offers, never wavered in his summer commitment to Columbia University out of the Ivy League. Salina South defensive end Issac Mitchell signed with Yale.

5. NAIA commitments – The NAIAs had multiple area signings, including Rock Hills’ standout Dereck Gillett and Maize lineman Eli Owings for Benedictine. Hugoton wide receiver/linebacker Cole Martin and Osborne linebacker Kade Miller signed with Bethel. Butler continued to have a strong Kansas haul, most notably Brookville-Ell-Saline’s quarterback Nick Davenport and Campus’ lineman Seth Falley, both multi-year all-state players.