At first glance, the Wiregrass Ranch Bulls didn’t have a spectacular football campaign last season.
They finished 0-5 in Class 7A-District 7 play, and 4-6 overall. However, their points for and points against numbers were respectable, and a couple games were losses by just one score. But their performance on the field attracted the interest of some college football teams.
One school in Kansas was paying particular attention.
Bethel College, a Christian liberal arts college in North Newton, will welcome three Wiregrass Ranch football players as incoming freshmen this fall: Jordan Mutcherson, Giomani Davis and John Harris-Scott IV. And the players consider having familiar faces in the locker room to be an advantage.
“I feel like I’ll have somebody to rely on. Two people, now,” said Harris-Scott, who will play at either running back or safety for Bethel.
Harris-Scott said David and Mutcherson were his good friends, but they didn’t discuss going to Bethel together until they had individually decided to accept their offers.
Davis, who will available at tailback and slot receiver, agrees that it helps to know some teammates before setting foot on campus.
“It’s like good competition, to see who’s doing better and see who’s seeing the field first,” he said. “Also they’re people to motivate you because they know your full potential and what you can do.”
The Bethel College Threshers play in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference, which is affiliated with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. While the NAIA represents smaller colleges than the more-famous National Collegiate Athletic Association, it represents more than 250 schools and has almost two dozen championships across various sports.
Although games might not be in the mammoth 80,000-seat stadiums found in NCAA Division I football, Mutcherson is looking forward to suiting up. He isn’t worried about how many people are in the stands – Thresher Stadium seats 2,500– as long as he can compete.
“I have love for the game so it really doesn’t matter,” he said. “Many people don’t get the opportunity to go to the next level and play a little football.”
Mutcherson will be considered at linebacker and defensive end for his college team.
The trio will look to help out a Threshers football program that has struggled recently. The team has produced two winless seasons and a pair of two-win seasons over the past four years. But they ended last season with a victory, have a new coach at the helm and an incoming group of freshmen who hope to contribute immediately.
The Wiregrass Ranch players aren’t intimidated by the pressure to improve a struggling program, Mutcherson said, because they just did the same thing this past football season.
“We had a big turnaround for the school here,” he said.
The Bulls’ 4-6 record looks average on paper, except Wiregrass Ranch was coming off back-to-back 0-10 seasons. First-year coach Mike Lawrence gave the team a new attitude and work ethic, and that translated into success and respectability on the field.
“Coach Lawrence instilled more discipline. We just had a change in thinking, and we were working out harder,” said Davis, who endured one of the winless seasons before the turnaround. “It just changed our program.”
The players believe they can bring the same intensity to Bethel College.
They’ll also have to get used to a change in climate, as snow could be a part of their football forecasts. But Harris-Scott said it won’t be a concern for him.
“It’s going to be real cold. I’m from up north, so I’m OK with the snow,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the change” in weather.
Of course, there’s more to college life than football, and all three said they want to direct their studies toward business. Harris-Scott wants to focus on the home health field, Mutcherson is looking toward sports management, and Davis wants to consider entrepreneurial opportunities.
The three student-athletes are planning a group trip to Kansas in the near future and are looking forward to college life in the fall. And whatever happens on the field and on campus, they know they won’t have to face it alone.
“When we signed, we sat next to each other,” Mutcherson said. “After we signed we shook each other’s hands and said ‘See you in Bethel.’“
Published Feb. 19, 2014