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Prep preview '13 -- Delton drawing NCAA Division I looks

By AUSTIN COLBERT

acolbert@dailynews.net

Getting that first NCAA Division I football offer is a big deal. Just ask Hays High School junior Alex Delton.

"It was probably one of the best days of my life thus far," Delton said. "Nothing is for sure in life, but it's kind of like saying if you keep healthy and keep doing good things you can play at our school. Just the fact that it happened was a relief."

That relief came in the form of a scholarship offer to play football at Kansas State University. Heading into his junior season it's the only official offer Delton has, but that doesn't mean other schools haven't been showing a lot of attention to the dual-threat quarterback.

In fact, he and Hays High coach Ryan Cornelsen have had a busy offseason.

"One day I got a call from coach Cornelsen, and he said, 'Hey, can you call this number? It's Tennessee's quarterback coach wanting to know about you,' " Delton said.

That call led to an unofficial visit to Knoxville, Tenn., where Delton got to work out for a program that has produced the likes of NFL superstar Peyton Manning. The University of Missouri also hosted Delton, and many more teams could be added to the list in the future.

Delton is listed at 6-feet, 188 pounds. It was his breakout sophomore season a year ago that really got him on the immediate map, when he threw for 1,194 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also ran for 637 yards and 10 more scores showing off his elite speed in the process.

Kansas State was the first school to really reach out to him, inviting him to Manhattan for a workout at the beginning of the summer. His raw speed impressed the Wildcat coaching staff enough that a scholarship offer soon followed.

And so did the camp invites.

Delton was invited to attend a couple of Rivals.com football camps, one in St. Louis and another in Dallas. These camps are usually one day long and feature some of the best high school athletes in the country. Just getting an invite is a big deal.

"It's very competitive," Delton said. "Everyone there wants to be the best, thinks they're the best. So you are going to have to prove to the kid next to you why you are better than him. I love that."

And Delton proved that he belonged. At the end of the camp in Dallas, Delton was ranked as the No. 2 underclassman quarterback behind Jarrett Stidham of Stephenville, Texas. Stidham already holds offers from Tennessee, Texas and Texas A&M, among others.

The No. 3 quarterback on that list, Charleston, Ark., native Ty Storey, is already committed to play for the University of Arkansas and held offers from Auburn and Alabama.

"For me being a little Kansas kid getting ranked up there is a big deal," Delton said. "There were kids with offers from everywhere in the SEC that didn't get ranked in the Top-5."

The attention is only going to grow for Delton. In late August, Jeremy Crabtree of ESPN's RecruitingNation made a visit to Hays to profile the rising star.

"He just contacted me and said he wanted to meet with me and Alex," Cornelsen said. "For somebody in Hays, Kansas to get recruited that heavily and getting looked at by ESPN, it's exciting."

Just don't expect either to get carried away with it. Delton won't deny he is looking forward to next summer, where he hopes the recruiting process will really pick up. He has plans to take many more visits; UCLA and the University of Oregon among those mentioned as possible destinations.

"I love it, I love the recruiting process," Delton said. "But we are still a long ways away from knowing where I'm going to play."

As fun as it is, there is business to take care of first. Delton and Cornelsen don't plan on letting the attention be any sort of distraction for the Hays High Indians when they take to the field this fall.

"I don't ever think it will be a problem with him or with me. The reality is we are both competitive and want to win," Cornelsen said. "I made it very clear that first and foremost his goal needs to be a great Hays High Indian, and a great football player at this high school."

Cornelsen added: "There comes a time you don't want to be just a recruit. Those guys are just worried about recruiting. You want to be a great high school football player because that's what it's about. If you are a great high school football player your recruiting will take care of itself.

"I think he understands what I mean."