Next level: Five Busters sign to D-I

2/6/2014

By J. LEVI BURNFIN

By J. LEVI BURNFIN

lburnfin@gctelegram.com

Five Garden City Community College football players were honored in the Hall of Fame room at the Perryman Athletic Complex on Thursday for signing Letters of Intent to play at NCAA Division I schools.

Linebackers D'Vonta Derricott and Errol Clarke signed with Kansas State University and the University of Central Florida, respectively. Defensive tackle Dondre Elvoid will be playing at Texas State University. Offensive lineman Ryan Johnson (misidentified as Lee Johnson in a previous story) will head to the University of Massachussetts. And finally, redshirt defensive lineman Tysheem Bryant signed to play at Bethune-Cookman University.

Those five, who had all signed on Wednesday but Tuesday's snowstorm that forced cancellation of classes on Wednesday at GCCC forced the postponement of the ceremony to Thursday, make eight signed Broncbusters moving on to the next level from the 2013 squad. Tyreek Hill is already enrolled at Oklahoma State; Dontavius Blair is set to head to Tennessee; and Wonderful Terry will be playing at Western Kentucky.

"This is huge," the 6-foot-4, 295-pound Elvoid said at the ceremony. "To get the opportunity to play D-I is huge."

Elvoid, Derricott and Clarke were the foundation inside for an outstanding Buster defense in 2013.

The 21st-ranked Busters' defense gave up only 289.2 yards per game with Elvoid up front on the defensive line, and Clarke and Derricott manning the two inside linebacker spots in the Busters' 3-4 formation.

"Playing next to (Derricott) was like Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman (San Francisco 49ers' great inside linebackers)," Clarke said of playing next to another of the top junior college linebackers in the country.

Derricott's recruitment process seemed to be a lengthy one as the University of Miami entered the fray late, alongside several other schools that had already offered Derricott.

But ultimately, Derricott decided to stick with his first commitment, K-State.

"They were one of the first ones to start recruiting me," Derricott said. "I already told coach (Charlie) Dickey (offensive line coach at K-State) that I was a solid verbal, so I didn't want to go back on my word."

The 6-1, 230-pound Derricott was the top-rated juco linebacker in the country as one of two with four stars, according to Rivals.com.

He racked up 67 tackles in eight games for the Busters, nine for a loss, second only to his linebacker counterpart, Clarke.

The 6-3, 240-pound Clarke was rated a three-star linebacker by Rivals.com, tallying 82 tackles in nine games, including 13 1/2 for a loss after transferring to Garden City from Cincinnati, where he first committed after high school.

Clarke said he is looking forward to playing against Cincinnati as both Cincinnati and UCF are in the new American Athletic Conference (previously the Big East).

Meanwhile, Elvoid, who had 20 tackles from his nose tackle and defensive end positions in the 3-4, will vie for a starting spot on the defensive front of the Sun Belt Conference's Texas State in 2014.

"(Elvoid's) a really good player in the middle," Derricott said. "He allowed us to go out and make the tackle."

Going up against Elvoid in practice for much of the year was the 6-5, 320-pound Johnson, who played opposite the Busters' left tackle Blair at the right tackle to anchor the offensive line. Johnson helped pave the way for Hill, one of the top-rated players in the junior college ranks in 2013.

Behind Johnson and the Buster offensive line, the Busters rushed for nearly 150 yards per game and passed for more than 200.

The Ellsworth (Iowa) Community College transfer said playing in the Jayhawk Conference helped him develop as a player.

"I feel that this conference is way better (than the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference)," the St. Louis, Mo., native said. "There's a lot of D-I, SEC, a lot of good kids in the conference."

Finally, the Busters also send Tysheem Bryant, who redshirted for Garden City this season after transferring from Dodge City, to Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black university in Daytona Beach, Fla.

"They were one of the first to recruit me," Bryant said of why he chose Bethune-Cookman.

The Wildcats are a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision.

In the coming weeks, the Busters may also be sending a couple of more players to the Division I ranks as defensive back Tim Hill and wide receiver Brandon Snell may sign at four-year schools.

According to Rivals.com, Tim Hill has offers from Appalachian State, Georgia Southern and Georgia State, among others. Snell, meanwhile, was a solid commit to Utah but has not signed as of Thursday.

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