By Greta Klein
Making a name for yourself can be difficult in any industry. In the sports world, athletes are competing against the best of the best, not just from the opposition but also with teammates, battling for a spot. Establishing yourself might sound easy in theory, but it takes dedication, time, and effort.
Daniel Brown and Tre Richardson have made a name for themselves for the Hutchinson Community College football team.
Brown, a defensive end, was named KJCCC Defensive Player of the Year, and Richardson was named KJCCC First-Team Special Teams.
“Being named defensive player (of the year), it just means a lot, for real,” Brown said. “That hard work and dedication paid off a lot. Really, just me listening to what my coaches had planned really helped me.”
The combination of these two players on the field have been beneficial for the Blue Dragons.
“Opposing coaches have to account for both of those guys in game plans, and if they don’t, both players can’t hurt teams fast,” Blue Dragons coach Drew Dallas said. “The impressive thing is that even though opposing coaches try to create plans to neutralize those two, they still find big ways to show up and help us win.”
With their athletic ability, it is difficult to stop both them all game long.
“Daniel has been a dominant force along our defensive line,” Dallas said. “We have some great depth in that spot up front on the DL, but he has really created havoc for opposing QBs with his pass rush and RBs with how he plays our DE spot and racks up (tackles for loss).”
Richardson is a versatile player, not just playing special teams but also on offense.
“Tre has been an explosive playmaker for us with the ball in his hands,” Dallas said. “Whether it has been on offense or special teams, he has excelled in gaining yards and scoring points. He has really been a key player in our field position battles, and that often goes unnoticed.”
Despite playing at HutchCC, the road to recruitment during high school may not be so simple for both.
Brown, from Kansas City, Kan., went to Bishop Ward after attending Kansas City-Washington first.
“(Washington) wasn’t a good high school,” Brown said. “That’s really one of the reasons why I transferred, so I can focus on finishing out high school, academic wise and football wise. So it was kind of a rough patch my first three years and then going into that last year, I finished out strong to where I became fully qualified and stuff like that. So it was all right.”
Ward is known for baseball and doesn’t have a high football pedigree, similarly to Richardson’s high school.
Richardson, originally from Louisiana, attended Highland Park in Topeka. A basketball powerhouse, Highland Park hasn’t been known for football until the last couple of years.
“(High school) was pretty easy. I had a 4.1 (GPA),” Richardson said. “Athletically, it was pretty easy. I played football, basketball, baseball and track.”
Thinking about their future in football, Brown and Richardson had some decisions to make about where to attend college.
“Going into my junior year, (Hutch) they offered me and kept talking to me,” Richardson said. “I was committed to New Mexico, then decommitted, then decided to go to a juco. I was going to go to Butler until I took my visit here and liked it up here so I came here.”
For Brown, he signed to HutchCC later than other recruits.
“It was my senior year (when I got recruited),” Brown said. “I didn’t sign until like, March, something like that. I was looking at (Division 2) because I was a heavy crew coming out of high school. But I just told myself that I knew I wasn’t a DII player, (ready) to play at the highest level and stuff like that. So I just took a bet on myself and came to Hutch.”
While getting recruited, there are specific attributes that coaches look for in an athlete.
“With any recruit, we look for their overall athleticism, work ethic, attitude, production, positional skill, speed, strength, and ask the question, ‘Can they help us win a national championship?’,” Dallas said. “We try to identify their elite traits and see how they separate themselves from the others on our recruiting board.
Not only were Brown and Richardson multiple sport athletes, they also took care of their grades.
“A few things that really sticks out for the both of them is their elite speed, strength, and athleticism,” Dallas said. “Both players excelled in multiple sports in high school, and we really felt like they had an extremely high ceilings and the opportunity to continue to develop. I think with both of the young men, they have progressed in so many areas and they both operate the right way on the field and in the classroom.”
Brown recently committed to Illinois to continue his football and academic career.
Still a freshman at HutchCC, Richardson announced on Thursday that he has committed to Toledo.
Even though Dallas and his team have their eye on a second NJCAA championship in four seasons, he still wants his players to succeed outside of football.
“The things we ask of them are not always result oriented but process oriented and I hope that they can learn lessons that will help them not only on/off the field here at Hutch but also in their life after they leave our program,” Dallas said.