By Con Marshall
Wednesday was the official National Signing Day for football and 38 high school seniors signed letters of intent to join the Chadron State College football program beginning this fall.
The school originally announced 40 signees, but a few waited until this morning to send in their letters and a few other, mostly walk-ons, decided not to sign after being on the original list.
Head Coach Jay Long said some top players were signed at each position, but there was heavy emphasis on adding big linemen and promising defensive backs. Several of the players projected as cornerbacks or safetys have been offensive standouts and could fill those positions in college, depending on the Eagles’ needs.
The list of initial signees includes 11 players from Colorado, 9 Nebraskans, 7 from Wyoming, 3 from Florida, 2 Texans and a prospect from six other states.
The Nebraska newcomers include 3 from the Panhandle and leading that list is Gage Mintken of Hay Springs.
Mintken was named the state 6-Man Offensive Player of the Year after rushing for 1,483 yards and 30 touchdowns for the Hawks, despite missing the first 3 games because of an injury. He also recently went over the 1,000-point mark for the Hay Springs basketball team.
The others Panhandle signees are lineman Theron Miller of Hemingford, chosen the Western Trails Conference’s 8-Man Defensive Most Valuable Player, and linebacker Grady Robbins, Gering’s leading tackler
Among the other Nebraskans joining the Eagles is Rio Remund, a senior at Arnold High and the Class D2 8-Man Defensive Player of the Year after leading the South Loup Bobcats to an 11-1 record. He’s 6-4, 230 pounds and also was a all-state as a junior.
Also from the middle of the state are Quincy Ryker of Sargent, who ran for 1,573 yards and scored 23 touchdowns for the Twin Loup Wolves last fall, and Brady Dahlberg (6-5, 230) of 8-Man D2 state champion Sandhills/Thedford, who earned first-team all-state honors as a placekicker and is viewed as an excellent line prospects.
Wyatt Anderson (6-4, 245) of Amherst is another recruit viewed as an excellent line prospects, as is defensive end prospect is Garrett O’Hare (6-4, 230) of Kearney Catholic, whose parents attended CSC. Waylon Cronk (6-2, 200) has been Wood River’s quarterback, but is expected to play in the defensive secondary in college.
Two of the signees from Florida have Nebraska ties. Several of DeAndre Berry’s relatives were standout athletes at McCook while Stewart Oberg’s parents reportedly have purchased a farm in the Scottsbluff area. Berry is 6-4, 285 pounds and Oberg is 6-1, 310.
Other Eagles-to-be with Nebraska connections include tight end Parker Schwarting (6-4, 210) of Joliet West in Illinois, whose parents are natives of the Cornhusker State, and receiver Ty Sheets, who caught 60 passes for the Riverton Wolverines last season. His father, Beau Sheets, was a standout wide receiver and kick returner at CSC in the early 2000s.
Other receiver prospects from Wyoming include Colter Hanft of Tongue River, Keaton Mills of Sundance, and Trey Stenerson of Powell. Each was an all-stater last fall. Stenerson caught six passes for touchdowns in a game last fall.
The future Eagles from Wyoming also include running back Quade Jordan (6-0, 215) of Encampment, who earned first-team all-state for the third time last fall, when he rushed 144 times for 1,614 yards and 38 touchdowns.
Two more Wyoming recruits, Fletcher Black (6-4, 230) of Mountain View and Logan Ortega (6-3, 260) of Douglas, will provide some of the size the CSC coaches were seeking.
As usual, the Chadron State coaches were successful in landing some excellent prospects from Colorado including two from Holyoke: first-team all-state quarterback Wyatt Sprague and safety prospect Bryson Dierks.
Other Coloradans signing with the Eagles were defensive linemen Al Dickens (6-3, 250) of Strasburg and Josiah Perez (6-1, 230) of Pueblo West and offensive linemen Matt Jennings (6-2, 270) of Fountain-Fort Carson, Tristan Randall (6-3, 255) of Pine Creek, and Brady Varney (6-5, 230) of Severance High.
Safety Eli Martinez made 92 tackles and intercepted 3 passes for Class 5A state runner-up Cherry Creek team while wide receiver Riley Saurez of Thompson Valley High at Loveland was named his conference’s MVP
Cornerback Jaren Texer of the Classical Academy in Colorado Springs received special recognition as both a receiver and a return specialist fellow safety Cameron Meyer of Arvada West rounding out the Colorado contingent.
Texans Jayven Gonzales and Gerardo Vasquez Jr played at Odessa High School for Creighton Reed, a one-time CSC QB who recently became the head football coach at Grand Island High School.
As a native of South Dakota, Long was pleased that all-state linebacker Gideon Waldrop of Rapid City Central signed with the Eagles.
The coach also he’s proud that almost as many of the recruits earned all-state honors academically as they did for their football prowess with 31 qualifying for academic scholarships at CSC.
More information will be provided on other CSC signees in the near future.