Following another banner season on the field and keeping with its storied tradition, once again this year the Butler Community College (Kan.) football program has produced a number of players signing scholarships with major Division I universities.
On Wednesday seven Grizzlies players that have already decided where they would like to play next year will sign on the dotted line, taking advantage of the NCAAs mid-year signing period.
The early signing group is headed by sophomore linebacker Austin Panter from Kensington, Kan., who is on his way to Michigan. Panter, the Region VI defensive player of the year and recently named the NJCAAs national defensive player of the year, becomes Michigan's first junior college football signee since 1997.
Other early signees include offensive linemen Scott Haverkamp, Chet Hartley, Calvin Collazo and Naseri Eteuini (6-3, 310).
Haverkamp, a sophomore offensive guard from Silver Lake, Kan., will move on to Georgia, while Hartley, a sophomore offensive tackle from Kingman, Kan., is off to Lawrence to play for KU.
Collazo, a sophomore offensive tackle from Caldwell, Kan., will sign to play at West Texas A&M University. Eteuini, a sophomore center from Manhattan, Kan., is signing with Houston.
Also signing early is sophomore linebacker Tommy Phelps of Roeland Park, Kan., who is heading to Memphis and sophomore cornerback Kendrick Harper (6-0, 180) from Hartwell, Ga., who will sign to play for the Kansas Jayhawks.
Harper tied for the Grizzlies team lead with six interceptions this year.
According to Butler head coach Troy Morrell, players signing scholarships to play at the next level is the fulfillment of a lot of hopes and dreams.
"Players who come to Butler have three goals in mind when they first arrive," Morrell said. "First is to get a great education. Second is to win games and get two rings on their fingers, and third, to have the opportunity to play at the next level. To see players accomplish those goals I feel very happy and proud for them and their families."
Several more Grizzlies players are expected to sign scholarships when the official signing date arrives on February 7th. Included in that group is sophomore wide receiver Wallace Franklin, who has committed to Nebraska, running back Brandon Barnett, who will attend the University of Arkansas, linebacker David McDowell, who is committed to Troy University, and defensive end Chris Lyle, who is still undecided between Purdue, Arkansas, and the Louisville.
This season the Grizzlies claimed their sixth consecutive Kansas Jayhawk Conference championship, finishing with an overall record of 11-1 and a final ranking of third in the nation in the NJCAA poll.