On Thursday afternoon at  McPherson High School, five students participated in National Signing Day as they signed their letters of intent to officially commit to the school of their choosing, with the support of their family, friends and teammates.

Drew Labertew and Wyatt Seidl decided to stay in Kansas and committed to play football for Fort Hays State University. Even when there were plenty of options available for the two players out of state, both Seidl and Labertew were sold on the Tigers’ head coach Chris Brown and his football program.

Seidl, who plays defensive lineman for the Bullpups, takes the label of student athlete seriously. Everything clicked when Brown reached out to him and his family during the recruiting process.

“Coach Brown has done a good job up there,” Seidl said. “He definitely knows what he’s doing and he works on putting school first before football. I mean, you’re there to play football but you got to get your school work done.”

For Labertew, who played both quarterback and free safety for the Bullpups and will play safety at the next level, it was in his blood to go to Fort Hays. Both of his parents are FHSU alumni.

“I have a lot of family members that went to Fort Hays and it was just a good fit. I was comfortable with the coaches and the program,” Labertew said.

The Lady Pups’ soccer phenom Aislin Hughes, who just like Labertew and Seidl, has also decided to stay close to home as she signed to play college soccer for Emporia State University.

The first-team all-state player knew that Emporia was the right fit for her after developing a good relationship with her future head coach Bryan Sailer.

“I really think it was the coach and how he talked about his program. I saw the passion and faith in his team, and I am like that as well,” Hughes said. “I am very passionate about soccer and it was really cool to find a coach that, in a way, was similar to me.”

Jayse Alexander and Gunner Reiss decided to leave the nest and take their talents to Arkansas to play football for Henderson State University. Reiss was confident in his decision, as his teammate and close friend helped convince him to commit to the Division II program.

“Jayse (Alexander) was going there so that was big for me, but it’s a beautiful place and they really have a good tradition there, and we’re going to win some rings hopefully,” Reiss said. “It’s going to be tough at first, but my mom is my biggest supporter.  I know she’s going to come down and visit me. It’s just time to show other states what Kansas boys can do.”

Alexander wanted to go to a school that he feels that is best for him, even if it means leaving home.

“I was just doing what’s best for me. It has nothing to do with anyone else,” Alexander said.

Alexander and Reiss, who have been teammates since the fourth grade, are looking forward to play with each other side-by-side into their college careers.

“It’s nice to know that you’ll know somebody on campus. We talked a little bit about what it will be like to play with each other again for another four to five years. We decided it was best for both of us,” Alexander said.

Several McPherson High School athletes had made their college commitments before National Signing Day. These include Ben Pyle, who signed to play for Western Illinois University, Taylor Robertson, who signed to play womens’ basketball for Oklahoma University and Mandi Cooks, who signed to play University of Texas San Antonio for the womens’ basketball team.

In the future, Kollin Goering and Ben Nikkel are expected to sign to play for McPherson College this fall.

Contact Peter Holland Jr. by email at pholland@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow him on Twitter @Petes_Picks_