COLUMBIA — Some high school football players make it to the college game on pure talent. Some make it on hard work. Others make it on both.
Hickman's Wesley Leftwich fits into the last category, according to his coach Jason Wright. The 6-foot-2 wide receiver, who signed with Missouri on Wednesday, attracted recruiters with his unusual speed. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.36 seconds at a high school combine before his junior year.
But Hickman coach Jason Wright said the Tigers are getting more than just a stat.
"Wesley is a guy that deserves everything that he gets because of his work ethic and his ability to perform out on the field," Wright said. "Everybody talks about the speed that he has, but what a lot of people don't realize is that he's worked for that speed."
Leftwich graduated early from Hickman in December. He is now enrolled at Missouri.
At Rock Bridge, Paris Logan signed to play cornerback at Northern Illinois, also in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Shawn Rush will play safety for Northern Iowa, and Mark Pickerel will play safety at South Dakota State. Both schools are Football Championship Subdivision programs, and both are in the Missouri Valley Conference.
"Whenever you're able to further your career at any level, it is quite a feat," Rock Bridge coach A.J. Ofodile said. "Sometimes it's not just a God-given genetic piece, but all your ability to make up for what you might have been lacking genetically and the things done to play at that high of a level. Those guys obviously did a good job. They really worked their butts off to advance with what they had."
Four other players will play for Division II schools. From Rock Bridge, defensive lineman Tristan Patterson will play at Northwest Missouri State, and defensive end A.J. Warren will play at Missouri S&T. From Hickman, wide receiver Tyler Sprigg will play at Truman State, and defensive lineman Josh German will play at Central Missouri.
Rock Bridge linebacker Harrison Adams will play in the NAIA at William Jewell.