By AUSTIN COLBERT
1While part of this was exciting, there was also concern about whether Delton's stature would overshadow the team and the season and become too much for either side to handle.
If Black only knew Delton then like he does now, he never would have worried.
"I hate to call it a surprise, but just not knowing him, in today's age it would be really easy to be a big-headed kid and to be cocky ... but he is such a humble kid," Black said. "I said, 'What do you really want to accomplish?' and he goes, 'I want this football team to be remembered. Not me be remembered, but the team that I led and we led together and everyone played, for this group to leave a legacy and be remembered.' I think that just speaks volumes of who he is."
Through everything, Delton has never let the future K-State football player side of him become more important than the here and now. His father, Ricky Delton, reminds him on a daily basis that until he graduates in December, he is first and foremost a Hays High Indian.
"I wouldn't say it's been easy. I definitely think about it every day of my life, no doubt," Delton said about becoming a Wildcat. "With a community like Hays it would be easy to get big headed and stuff, but I don't look at things like that. I realize I have a team and one Division I player isn't going to make a team win nine games. I don't look at things like that. I'm just another player."
Delton takes this to heart and makes sure his focus week in and week out is not on himself, but his teammates, a group of kids that have equally remained unaffected by the aura that comes with Delton being labeled a future Division I quarterback.
"I've known him since, I want to say fifth grade. He never really had a big ego. He was humble about everything," said Hays High senior lineman Brandon Hardwick. "That's great for the team. It lets everyone know that he's humble and still paying attention to this season. He knows that this season is his last high school year and he wants to make it a great one."
Rivals.com ranks Delton as the No. 16 dual threat quarterback prospect in the 2015 class. He received heavy interest from some of the top football programs in the country, including Tennessee, Nebraska, Missouri and Notre Dame.
It was during a football camp at Kansas State prior to his junior season when the interest level began to skyrocket. While it would be months before Delton made any sort of verbal commitment to the Wildcats, deep down Delton's family always knew he was destined to play college football in Manhattan.
"Yeah, the facilities at Tennessee and Nebraska, they were very nice. But, the biggest thing when he went to K-State was the actual coaches talked to him," said Delton's mother, Rhonda Dinkel. "(Head coach Bill Snyder) actually talked to him and made him feel he was already part of something. And Snyder has really good values. I think that impressed Alex a lot. The glitz and the glamour will come sooner or later, but he wants to learn the football program. Snyder, he didn't impress him with all that. He impressed him with their football program."
Delton's rise to becoming a college athlete began when his father coached him in flag football. Ricky wouldn't let him play tackle football until fifth grade, mainly to teach him "how to move without the ball." When Delton started playing Federation football what instantly stood out was his speed. Delton took that speed into high school, where he quickly became a star track and field athlete and football player under former coach Ryan Cornelsen, who is in his first season coaching Hutchinson High School.
Cornelsen and Delton bonded over their three years together, and it wasn't easy on either when Cornelsen decided to leave Hays for Hutchinson. But when Delton signed a financial aid agreement last month to begin taking classes in the spring at K-State, there was no way Delton was going to hold the signing ceremony without Cornelsen there to watch.
"That means a lot. Coach Cornelsen, his support," Delton said. "We talk all the time. But just to have his support here, he means a lot to me. He's been my coach. He grounded me, always. I kind of learned everything from him growing up straight out of middle school. It means a lot and I knew he'd come just because of how close our relationships is. Words can't explain it. He's like a father figure to me and we will always have that bond."
When Hays High lines up opposite Olathe Northwest on Friday to open the season, the torch will have been officially passed from Cornelsen to Black, who spent the previous 13 seasons as the head coach at Great Bend High School. Black knows exactly what sort of talent he has in Delton, having seen it from the other sideline the last few seasons.
While Black is bringing with him an up-tempo spread offense perfectly suited for Delton's skill set, what excites him more is having a quarterback grounded in the present, with a constant drive to improve both himself and those around him.
"Anything we want, and that's really the truth. He can run. He can throw. In this offense he's become so much better at understanding defenses and what coverage they are coming from, where sit-down routes are and hot routes," Black said.
"And that to me is what makes him unique. He wants to learn that. He is hungry to learn that. He spent a lot of time in the summer up here at the high school and has been to my house a couple of times already and it is just a hunger for knowledge from a football perspective for him. To coach kids like that makes it really, really fun."