BATESVILLE, Ark. (LyonScots.com) – Lyon College head football coach Kirk Kelley didn't have to go far to find the first player to sign with the Scots. Batesville tight end Garett Denton signed a letter-of-intent Wednesday morning to become the first Lyon football player since 1951.
Garett, the son of Renee and Bryan Denton, was an offensive tackle last season for the Pioneers as they advanced to the Class 5A state championship game, but was moved to tight end during spring drills and has adapted well.
"At first it was kind of weird not to be on the line and just blocking people every play," Denton said at the press conference. "But now I've kind of gotten used to going out and catching passes and it's been really fun."
Kelley also likes the luxury of having a player that can switch back and forth between tackle and tight end. The coach said he might utilize that aspect of Denton's ability when he officially reports in the fall of 2014.
"I saw film on Garett and was immediately pleased with what I saw," Kelley said. "He can definitely play both tackle and tight end, which is a great benefit for us. He'll come in as a tight end and we'll use him where he can help us the most, depending on who else we sign."
The 6-3, 255-pound Pioneer senior is the perfect fit for the Lyon football program, Kelley said.
"(Garett) fits the mold of what we want here at Lyon," the Lyon coach noted. "He's a great student, he's a great young man and he's a great football player. And he comes from right here in Batesville and that makes it even better.
"I couldn't have come up with a more perfect scenario for our first signing. We're excited to get him signed. He's a great first signing and we'll continue to bring in great players around him."
Denton said being the first signee of the re-instated Lyon College football program means a lot to him.
"It's exciting," he said. "I honestly can't describe how great it feels to be part of the first class of this program. I never thought it would happen to me [being the first signee at Lyon]. Lyon is a great college to go to and it's great to be here today.
"It's a big deal to be the first recruit. I love being a leader and to have my teammates come to me. I hope to be able to do the same thing here at Lyon."
Denton said looking ahead to the 2014 season of no intercollegiate games means an opportunity for the Scots to get better before their first season of game days in 2015.
"Three words: Bigger. Stronger. Faster. I believe that Coach Kelley will get us that way and get us ready for our first games in 2015."
Coming off a successful high school career under BHS head coach Dave King, Denton feels it will enable him to continue to work hard and expect big things at the next level.
"I think being in a successful program at Batesville is a good thing because when you have success in high school you'll expect to have success in whatever level you play," Denton explained. "That means you'll work just as hard, if not harder, to make the college program that much better. That's what I plan to do."
Denton, who also is a starter for the Batesville High School basketball team, is the first of two signings planned for this week, Kelley stated, adding that he'll be adding a player from Subiaco Academy in Subiaco, Ark. later this week. The Lyon College coach said it's great to be moving forward.
"It feels now that we're rolling," the Scots' coach stated. "We'll continue working toward 10 and then 20 and so on. It's a great feeling.
"I know it takes a lot of courage for a player to sign with a first-year program, but we're excited about what's ahead and so are they.
"We have a recruiting calendar. There are 22 high schools that play football in a 45-mile radius of Batesville and we plan to start there and work our way out. We'll also be going to Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri and then some. We're excited because we know there are a lot of good players out there that want to play college ball."
Kelley is looking to sign approximately 60-65 players between now and next fall and then expanding the roster to approximately 100 by the fall of 2015. Lyon College will open its first training camp in the fall of 2014 and not play an intercollegiate schedule until 2015. Kelley said the squad will host at least two intrasquad scrimmages next fall to give fans a taste of things to come.