One of the top defensive players in the area the last two years, Thomas More Prep-Marian linebacker Kaleb Hagans is ready to tackle his next challenge. 

Hagans, who compiled 267 tackles in the past two seasons for the Monarchs, signed a letter of intent to play football at Kansas Wesleyan University on Thursday morning. 

"In the recruiting process, they were one (of the schools) that reached out and they really stood out to me and I really enjoyed what they had," Hagans said. "My first visit there, I felt like it was what I was looking for in a college. The experience overall, it just felt like I wanted to go there right as I stepped foot (on campus)."

Hagans will join a Coyote team that is coming off one of its best seasons in program history. Wesleyan went 13-1 a year ago and reached the NAIA national semifinals. Myers Hendrickson enters his first season as KWU head coach, replacing Matt Drinkall, who resigned to accept a position at Army West Point.

"I was aware of (the success)," Hagans said. "It was a little bit of my decision but it wasn't a major factor. I just wanted somewhere where'd I'd feel at home."

Hagans, 6-foot, 230 pounds, was the backbone of the Monarchs' defense. He recorded 148 tackles as a junior and made 119 stops last year.

He also had success carrying the ball last year, but said he will be content to stay on the defensive side in college. 

"Defense definitely is where my heart is," Hagans said. "If I don't play a down of offense, that's all right."

He said it was a relief to have his college plans in place. 

"Toward the end, it was quite stressful, telling some places that I wasn't going to go there," Hagans said. "But overall it was fun.  It's a huge weight off my shoulders.

"It's definitely rewarding knowing that all the work that I've put in has now paid off," he said. 

Hagans was the unquestioned leader of a young Monarch team that went 3-6 last season in David Bowen's first year as TMP head coach. 

"I was one of the few returning starters from last year and I felt like we needed to get some young guys some experience, and I was the leader of the team," Hagans said. 

Hagans said he sees a bright future for the Monarchs. 

"There's definitely a lot of young guys that are going to come in and do quite well," Hagans said. "A few seniors are going to help with those guys as well. The freshmen that we had this year are going to do really well in the future."