BHS football players sign with Baker
Baker University football coach Mike Grossner has announced his early recruits for 2008.
"We only lose 10 guys, so we went after guys where we felt there was a need," said Grossner, who will be entering his fifth year with the Wildcats. "I feel really good about this class. It's not totally complete, but it's pretty close."
Included in those recruits are a pair of players from Baldwin High School. Several BHS athletes have signed to play at Baker, alma mater of BHS coach Mike Berg, during recent years.
"I think you have to keep the local talent around if you can," Grossner said. "We've done a nice job of that."
Offensive lineman Anthony Ciambrone and linebacker Luke Weaver are this year's Bulldog signees.
Ciambrone was recently chosen for the 2008 Kansas Shrine Bowl. Ciambrone was also chosen as a First-Team All-State Class 4A player by the Topeka Capital-Journal and Wichita Eagle.
Weaver was also First-Team All-State on those two teams, along with the Kansas Football Coaches Association. Both Weaver and Ciambrone were selected to the First-Team All-Frontier League this fall.
"I am very proud," Berg said. "This is a very proud moment for me. It just shows how hard work pays off. If you have a goal and you work hard, you are going to be able to achieve it. That's what these guys have proven."
Ciambrone and Weaver are two of several Bulldogs to continue their playing days at the hometown university. Other BHS players that have signed with Baker during Berg's tenure as coach include Josh Wood (2007 graduate), Kyle Ruona (2005), Micah Mason (2004), Mark Gastelum (2002), Ben Cosman (2001), Aaron Anderson (1999) and Bryan Williams (1999).
Berg always enjoys seeing his players sign with Baker, because it's his alma mater and it gives him the chance to watch them continue their careers.
"Having them go to Baker is special, because they are close to home and I get to watch them play," Berg said. "Baker is such a good program. They are going to learn a lot of good football."
Grossner said he has talked with a couple of other Bulldogs about possibly coming to Baker to play next year.
"I still think there is some work to be done at Baldwin High, because there are still some kids deciding what to do," Grossner said.
Baker also signed one other area player from Lawrence. Ryder Werts, a fullback or linebacker, signed out of Free State High School.
"I felt like we got the best player out of Free State," Grossner said. "Ryder is a good player. We've always had a shot at the best kid out of there."
Besides recruiting local players, Grossner and his staff also tried to fill in a few holes and replace the four starters they lost from this year's team that finished 6-5.
"The needs that I'm a little weary we didn't fulfill were backup safeties and another cornerback," Grossner said. "However, we're basically the same team coming back, hopefully a year older and stronger."
One player they believe will help is Alan Davis, quarterback out of Van Buren (Ark.) High School.
"We needed a young quarterback, because Mack's a junior, Kendall is a senior and Foltz is a junior. We needed a young guy and we got Alan."
Here are the list of players who have signed with Baker, with a comment from Grossner.
John Babb, RB, 5-9, 175, Topeka High School
"He's the best player out of Topeka. He's an impact guy. It came down to us, Emporia State and Washburn."
Kyle Bolton, RB/WR, 5-9, 175, Saint Augustine High School, Oceanside, Calif.
"He's been timed in the high 4.3s by a scout. He'll be a kick return guy, but he's really raw as a tailback."
Evan Branscum, FB, 5-9, 205, Marshall (Ark.) High School
Ethan Branscum, DB, 6-0, 195, Marshall (Ark.) High School
"They've got a chance to play. Good athletes and both rated No. 2 in their class academically. Good students."
Matthew Cabassa, RB/WR, 5-8, 160, Gibbs High School, St. Petersburg, Fla.
"He runs a 4.4. He could be a slot receiver or tailback. He should be a great kick returner for us right away."
Anthony Ciambrone, OL, 6-2, 270, Baldwin High School
"He should have some impact right away. We look for him to play as a guard."
Alan Davis, QB, 6-3, 215, Van Buren (Ark.) High School
"He's a big-time quarterback, who was rated top three as a junior out of Arkansas. Had a coaching change and did some things differently offensively so I was able to get into the mix. I tried to recruit him for a long time."
Caleb Johnson, LS, 6-1, 225, Blue Springs (Mo.) High School
"He is a fantastic long snapper. That's all he does. I met his parents in an airport and we sealed the deal."
Patrick Mirch, OL, 6-1, 300, Bentonville (Ark.) High School
"He should come in and play. He should push Matt Kinsman. That should be a good battle."
Adrian Peterson, LB, 5-9, 190, Topeka High School
"He's a good player out of Topeka High, coach's son."
Adam Steele, LB, 6-3, 215, Blue Valley West High School
"I think he's a great player. He's got a 32 ACT score. He's a really smart guy and a tough guy that will play linebacker for us."
Bradley Walker, WR, 6-2, 175, Wichita Heights High School
"He has raw talent and will be very explosive at wide receiver. He has been timed at 49 seconds in the 400, and 21 seconds in the 200."
Luke Weaver, LB, 5-10, 210, Baldwin High School
"He's a tough hard-nosed kid. He will play middle backer in our scheme. He's the career leading tackler at Baldwin High School.
Ryder Werts, LB/FB, 5-10, 220, Lawrence Free State High School
"He's a fantastic player out of Free State. He's a guy that we had over watching games during the season."