Hays High seniors Braydon Delzeit and Maddux Winter will continue their football careers together at Fort Hays State University, albeit under different circumstances.
Delzeit was recruited as a scholarship player on the defensive line, while Winter jumped at the chance to walk on to the Tiger program at a position to be determined later.
The duo celebrated with a signing ceremony at Hays High on Friday even though letters of intent were sent to the FHSU football program Wednesday.
“Fort Hays really stood out from other schools just at the fact they stayed on me,” Delzeit said. “It felt like I was wanted there at Fort Hays. The coaches are amazing people.”
Delzeit and Winter expect to redshirt their first year on campus.
“Both of them are going to need to put weight on and continue to work hard,” Hays High coach Randall Rath said. “I know they will, so that’s not going to be a problem with them.”
Delzeit will use the extra time to recover from a torn PCL and LCL suffered during the wrestling season. While the action on the mat set him back physically, the background helps make him such a tough block on the gridiron.
“He’s very quick and he has a high motor,” Rath said. “He’s going to be one of those kids, he’s really good against double teams. He just understands leverage from his wrestling experience.”
Winter said he’ll plan to use his first year focusing on his studies and putting time in the weight room, while his position is determined.
“I’m just going to go in and (let them) mold me where they want me,” the HHS senior said. “I’ll just be happy to play. Whatever gives me a chance to play on the field, I’ll do it.”
Regardless of which position group he ends up with, his prep coach believes he has the work ethic to succeed as a walk-on.
“He’ll give good effort, I know that,” Rath said.
While Delzeit said FHSU was his most likely college destination from the beginning of the recruiting process, Winter was waiting to make his decision in the days leading up to Wednesday’s National Signing Day. A text message from FHSU coach Chris Brown on Monday night helped keep Winter at home. He also was considering an opportunity to walk on at MIAA foe Nebraska-Kearney.
“My main focus was either (Nebraska)-Kearney, go play with them, or stay here at Fort Hays because I know they have a great program, and I know the coach,” Winter said. “He’s a great guy.”
They’ll likely have to sit and watch for a year before they get on the field, but the upward trajectory of the Tiger program has both of the Indians are eager to get started.
“They’re probably one of the top teams in Division II, and they’re up-and-coming,” Delziet said. “I’m excited to see what we can do in the next couple years.
“They’re turning that program around, and I’m very happy and excited to be a part of it,” Winter added.
Rath sees the FHSU program in the same light and believes both of his senior leaders from 2015 are in the right spot.
“I think it’s a good place for them and a good fit,” Rath said. “The program is doing very well.
“I think they’re just on the verge of exploding.”
Winter still has a prep basketball and track season to wrap up, while Delzeit anticipates missing the rest of wrestling and the entirety of the baseball season as his knee heals.
Academically, Winter plans to pursue a major related to the medical field, while Delzeit said he is interested in going into wildlife biology.