Archive for Wednesday, February 8, 2006

College bound

Tonganoxie seniors sign national football letters of intent

February 8, 2006

Tonganoxie High seniors wasted no time choosing where to continue their football careers.

Last Wednesday, the first day of the college signing period, four Chieftains signed national letters of intent to play college football.

Kent Fleming, who will play in the Kansas Shrine Bowl this summer, signed with Nebraska-Omaha, an NCAA Division II school.

Jeff Frank and Aaron Adcox signed with Garden City Community College, while Thomas Hopkins is headed to Fort Scott Community College.

The four athletes were part of a senior class that had one of the most successful careers in THS history.

During the last four years, the Chieftains went 31-11 and shared Kaw Valley League titles in two of those seasons.

Aaron Adcox

Adcox, who looked at a few area colleges, was sold on Garden City after taking an overnight visit to Western Kansas.

"I liked the coaching staff, and I felt welcome," Adcox said. "They told me if I worked my butt off, I could play anywhere, and I want to do that."

Anywhere doesn't have to be an NCAA Division I school. Although most football players dream of playing big-time college football, Adcox said he wouldn't mind eventually playing with Fleming at Nebraska-Omaha.

Garden City finished the 2005 season at 7-4, after losing to Dixie State, 35-31, in the Dixie Rotary Bowl in St. George, Utah.

The Broncbusters also have appeared in 12 of the last 14 Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference championship games.

As a senior, Adcox was named first-team all-Kaw Valley League defense as a middle linebacker and first-team offense as a left tackle. As a junior, he was all-league honorable mention as a left tackle.

Adcox also looked at Butler County, Coffeyville, Washburn, Pittsburg State, Missouri Western, Missouri Southern and Mid-America Nazarene before signing with the Broncbusters.

Kent Fleming

Fleming, who last month was named as just the third Tonganoxie senior in history to play in the Kansas Shrine Bowl, had aspirations of playing Division-I football. When Nebraska-Omaha showed interest, Fleming decided playing for the Mavericks would be "as close as possible" to Division-I.

Last Wednesday, he accepted a scholarship to play in football-crazed Nebraska.

"I was just blown away at what a big-time football program it is," Fleming said. "They love their football up there."

Last fall, Fleming was a first-team all-KVL selection as a defensive lineman. He also was an all-area Lawrence Journal-World selection and an all-Class 4A state selection.

As a junior, he was first team all-KVL, and honorable mention all-area and all-Class 4A. And as a sophomore, he was honorable mention all-league.

Junior colleges and universities such as Central Missouri, Pittsburg State and Tennessee State also showed interest in Fleming.

The Mavericks finished last season at 8-3 and ranked No. 16 in NCAA Division II. UNO was co-champion of the North Central Conference last fall and its 8-3 record marked the program's 10th straight winning season. Other teams in the league include Augustana (S.D.), Minnesota-Duluth, Minnesota State, North Dakota, St. Cloud State (Minn.) and South Dakota. Central Washington and Western Washington will join the league this fall.

Jeff Frank

Like Adcox, Frank signed up to be a Broncbuster at Garden City.

After looking at several junior colleges and small colleges such as Missouri Southern, Washburn, Kansas Wesleyan and Mid-America Nazarene, Frank opted for the junior college route. The offensive lineman said he liked the coaches and the atmosphere at Garden City.

"I had a connection, like that was the place I needed to be," Frank said.

Last fall, Frank was named all-KVL honorable mention as an offensive lineman.

Thomas Hopkins

While two teammates will be playing football on the opposite end of the state and a third in a neighboring state, Hopkins won't have far to travel to continue his football career.

Hopkins signed with Fort Scott Community College after also looking at Colorado State, Missouri Southern and Garden City.

"It's just close to home," Hopkins said.

Hopkins, who was a receiver for the Chieftains, hopes to help turn around a program that went winless last season. The Greyhounds finished 0-7 in the Jayhawk Conference and 0-9 overall.

Hopkins' older brother, Tim, participated in college football. Tim was a walk-on the past two seasons at Kansas.

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