Six Allan Hancock College student-athletes made their college commitments official and signed national letters of intent to four-year universities during a ceremony Thursday afternoon. Two athletes committed to play for Division I programs. Three are headed to NAIA programs, and one will play Division II football.
"Helping student-athletes transfer to a four-year university is what we are here for at the college," said Kim Ensing, associate dean and athletic director at Hancock. "These six athletes committed themselves to athletics and academics. As a result, they have earned a chance to earn a bachelor's degree and continue playing the sport they love. We couldn't be prouder of them."
Three football players signed on the dotted line. Safety Thomas Leggett will head to Texas Tech University to compete in the Big 12 Conference. The 6 foot, 1 inch freshman led the Bulldogs with 50 tackles in 2016. He recorded four tackles for loss, two interceptions and broke-up four passes.
"Texas Tech started pursuing me from day one," said Leggett. "They rolled out the red carpet for me during my recruiting trip. They have a great campus, stadium and coaching staff. I can't wait to get there."
Leggett will join a Texas Tech program led by head coach Kliff Kingsbury. The Red Raiders have played in two bowl games and owned the nation's highest-scoring offense last season under Kingsbury. Leggett's older brother, Jordan, played tight end at Clemson and was taken in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the New York Jets.
Chris Barganier will head to Nebraska to play at Chadron State, a Division II program. The St. Joseph High School graduate finished his Hancock career with 69 receptions for 1,071 yards and 10 touchdowns. The 6 foot, 1 inch receiver caught touchdown passes in five straight games his sophomore season.
"I really grew as a man and an athlete at Hancock," said Barganier. "I am ready to represent Hancock at the next level and show everybody what I can do and earn a degree at the same time."
The Chadron Eagles compete in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. They have gone 33-23 under sixth-year head coach Jay Long, including an appearance in the NCAA Division II Playoffs in 2012.
Punter Sean McComas will join former Hancock quarterback Curry Parham at Tabor College, a NAIA program. The Bluejays won the 2016 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Association title and qualified for the NAIA Playoffs. McComas averaged 33.2 yards per punt for the Bulldogs. His longest punt of the season was 48 yards.
The Sunshine State called for softball player Larrissa Ostrander. The sophomore committed to Keiser University, a NAIA program in West Palm Beach, Florida. The Seahawks just completed a 17-23 season as members of the Sun Conference.
"I am thrilled at the opportunity. The campus and the team just felt like home when I went to visit," said Ostrander. "The coaches already gave me number 2 for my uniform and plan to play me at shortstop. I couldn't be happier."
Ostrander was an All-Conference First Team pick this spring after she led the Bulldogs with a .388 batting average, 10 doubles, 10 triples, 44 RBI and 20 stolen bases. She finished her Hancock career with a .381 lifetime batting average, 12 triples, 69 runs, 69 RBI and 47 stolen bases.
Hancock baseball pitcher Walker Armstrong signed with California State University, Northridge. The right-hander was named the Western State Conference Pitcher of the Year after he went 8-5 with a 2.15 ERA, three complete games and 81 strikeouts over 100 2/3 innings. The St. Joseph High School graduate also hit .310 at the plate. During his two-year career at Hancock, the right-hander went 11-12 with four complete games, 129 strikeouts and a 2.67 ERA.
"I chose Northridge because the coaches were really interested in me as a pitcher and a person and said I will have an opportunity to compete for a starting spot," said Armstrong, who chose Northridge over CSU Monterey Bay and Dixie State. "Northridge has a great computer science program, which I plan to make my major. They also play in the Big West Conference, one of the most competitive and strongest Division I conferences in the nation."
The CSUN Matadors are in the middle of their 2017 season. Northridge is coming off back-to-back 33-win seasons, the program's most successful two-year period in 14 years.
Chris Taitague is headed to Campbellsville University, a NAIA program in Kentucky. Campbellsville won its third straight Mid-South Conference title this season and made its 19th appearance in the NAIA Regionals. Taitague, a Lompoc High School graduate, hit .244 with one home run and 12 RBI his sophomore season for the Bulldogs as a catcher and outfielder.
"I am really excited to join such a successful program with a great coaching staff," said Taitague, who plans to major in criminal justice. "I can't wait to compete at the highest level possible, play in the postseason and win a championship ring or two."
Former Bulldogs Riley Joyce, a senior catcher, and Hunter Christensen, a junior outfielder, played for the Campbellsville Tigers this season.
The six student-athletes join six others who signed earlier this spring. Women's soccer players Bonnie Zuniga, Heidi Cortez and Celeste Sanchez signed with Waldorf University. Taylor Nevitt committed to CSU Chico for track and field. Men's basketball player Marcellus Garrick signed a national letter of intent to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, while Destinee Garcia inked papers to play women's basketball at Park University.
A few more Hancock athletes are expected to commit to play for four-year universities in the coming weeks.