It was a football signing feast on Wednesday at McPherson High.
Four members of the Bullpups’ Class 4A Division I state semifinal team signed letters of intent, two with Fort Hays State and two with Henderson State of Arkansas, both schools being NCAA Division II.
Wyatt Seidl and Drew Labertew will be heading west to Fort Hays State, while Jayse Alexander and Gunnar Reiss will be heading south to Henderson State.
All four Bullpups earned loads of accolades this past season as they were one victory away from playing Bishop Miege for the state title. Seidl and Alexander were first-team All-Staters by the state's top two newspapers and all four were All-AVCTL. Seidl was the AVCTL Offensive MVP and Alexander earned the same nod on the defensive side.
Seidl, perhaps the most decorated of the players since he also was picked for the Shrine Bowl, said Fort Hays coach Chris Brown was the determining factor in his decision.
“Coach Brown has turned that program around ever since he’s been there,” Seidl said. “They take care of you very well. They put school before football. They went 11-1 last year and coach Brown only wants to be better. They have great guys on the team.”
Seidl said the Tiger coaching staff is looking at him as a defensive end. He certainly has the size, strength and speed to play the position and he’s going to spend his first year as a redshirt to develop even more physically.
Seidl is going to major in special education.
Labertew will be joining him at Fort Hays, which almost has turned into McPherson West. Several MHS athletes in the last few years have picked the school and are glad they did.
"I had some offers from some others schools in Arkansas and Oklahoma, but it just came down to being a good fit in the end,” said Labertew, one of the most versatile Bullpups in recent memory as he played safety, quarterback, receiver and kicked, including the game-winning field goal to beat Andale his junior year. “I felt really comfortable at Fort Hays and with the coaching staff.”
Labertew said former Bullpup Jack Reifschneider, who was a freshman at Fort Hays last year, gave the program glowing reviews. “I talked to Jack some and he really enjoyed the program and it was a good experience for him. I’m comfortable with the decision,” he said.
Labertew hopes to get up to about 210 pounds by the time his redshirt year is over. While he’s been a safety throughout his career, he might even get a look at outside linebacker.
“I think it (the redshirt year) will really help with strength and speed,” he said.
Another plus-point for Labertew was that Brown recruits Kansas hard and has a good rapport with his players.
Labertew will major in sports management.
Alexander, known for his amazing motor as he goes non-stop, wanted to see if he could play at the Division II level and Henderson State is giving him that opportunity.
“I need to work out a lot and gain a little weight,” said Alexander, who was a tackling machine for the Bullpups. “They’ve got some big boys down there. It’s a winning program and they have a winning mentality. I felt like I was at home down there.”
The Reddies had a strange 2017 season as they finished the year 6-5. They were only 1-4 at home, but a sparkling 5-1 on the road.
Alexander picked Henderson State over Fort Hays State as it was nearly three Bullpups heading west. He will major in criminal justice.
Reiss, who can play safety or corner, will be joining Alexander at Henderson State. He chose to continue his football career over baseball, as he’s also a standout in that sport.
“It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in my life,” Reiss said. “The coaches really welcome you with open arms and it’s a great atmosphere. They have a great winning tradition and it’s just an amazing place to be.”
Reiss said he needs to get a little bigger and stronger. While the Reddies’ coaching staff sees him as a safety, if he develops he could play some outside linebacker.
Reiss admitted it was tough to not play baseball in college.
“I’m a big baseball guy and (MHS) coach (Heath) Gerstner has been very supportive of me,” Reiss said.
Reiss will major in criminal justice.
For MHS coach Jace Pavlovich, who will have two more players sign on Monday as Kollin Goering and Ben Nikkel are staying in town to play for Paul Mierkiewicz’s McPherson College Bulldogs, this signing period is special as it shows the talent this team possessed.
“These guys are all going to need a redshirt year next year,” Pavlovich said. “They recognize the fact that good Division II programs redshirt all of their incoming freshmen. This next year gives them a chance to mature physically and mentally to prepare for their college careers. These guys all have the intrinsic motivation to become playmakers at their position. I cannot wait to see them on the field in the future.”
Here are Pavlovich’s comments about the four signings.
• Wyatt Seidl — “Coach Brown is really happy that he has two of his defensive ends in the future. He already had Dalton Kuhn (Smith Center) signed, but when Wyatt committed, the future was set. A lot of schools wanted Wyatt as a tight end-fullback hybrid player, but coach Brown knew that Wyatt is a great defensive player that is only going to get better and better. Coach Iguoue at FHSU has been known to take great high school players like Wyatt and make them into All-Americans.”
• Drew Labertew — “Many college recruiters came in and said the same thing, Drew has the most potential to be a great college football player of anyone in the recruiting class. I would have to agree with them. Drew's size, football sense and ability is going to carry him a long way at FHSU. I could see him fitting into his normal role as a safety or an outside linebacker position in the future. He is going to be 220 pounds in no time.”
• Jayse Alexander — “Jayse is going to be a great linebacker at Henderson State. If he were 3 inches taller, he would be getting some big-time offers. I am happy that coach Fiscus at Henderson State saw him for what he is — a playmaker on defense. I would imagine that he will break into special teams play early in his career with a chance to make a difference on defense at the linebacker position.”
• Gunnar Reiss — “Gunnar is another kid that is going to continue to improve drastically. Once he matures physically a little more, he is going to fit into Henderson State's 3-4 scheme well. Gunnar is one of the most fearless players we have ever had. That is going to translate into success on and off of the field in his career at Henderson.”