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Football attracts players from coast to coast

Story by Charisse Presley

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California and Florida meet in the middle at Baker as returning and newly recruited football players from coast to coast adjust to new surroundings.

Coach Mike Grossner has had success recruiting players from the coasts who want to play and further their education. (Story continued below.)

Learn more about players from both coasts through KNBU-TV's interview with football players Colton Miller of Florida and Eric Allen of California Inside Baker.<a href="" target="_blank">Inside Baker.</a> Inside Baker.

“We really sell the degree,” Grossner said.

Many of the recruits found Baker through word of mouth from friends and teammates. Since last year Grossner has recruited three more players from California and eight more from Florida, making a total of 12 California players and nine Florida players.

Grossner said he just looks for good kids who want to play and will be able to make the adjustment to the Midwest.

Sophomore defensive end Alphaeus Williams remembers being one of three Florida recruits his freshman year. Since then there has been an increase of players from his hometown of St. Petersburg, Fla.

“They found me,” freshman wide receiver Robert Woodall of St. Petersburg, Fla., said. “I met coach Grossner and took the information and never thought twice about it until he called me and said Baker wanted me to sign.”

Grossner used his close connections to find many of his recruits from San Diego, Calif.

“I have a friend in San Diego that helps me find guys that want to play football,” Grossner said.

Players from both coasts have traveled more than 1,000 miles away from home in order to play football at Baker. For many players, the difference from the coast to the Midwest was significant.

“Baldwin, as you might have guessed, is a lot smaller than San Diego,” said sophomore defensive back Ron Atkinson. “There’s no palm trees and only one stop light.”

Woodall said, “It’s a lot smaller and quieter and not much activity goes on in the town.”

With temperatures in the high 70s and low 60s being normal for San Diego, Calif., and high 80s and low 70s for Florida, it was no surprise players had to learn to make adjustments to the Midwest. Williams said he had never seen snow before he came to Baldwin City.

Despite the believed rivalry between the West Coast and the East Coast, the players at Baker said they don’t let the differences affect their team chemistry on or off the field.

“There is respect for both sides,” said San Diego sophomore Adam Barry. “We joke around with each other, but in the end it’s all love.”

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