Eyerly recalls roots, looks to future
As Daniel Eyerly prepared to sign his letter-of-intent to play football at Dodge City Community College, the Lansing High senior reflected back to his first gridiron coach who helped him discover his passion of the game.
"Ever since we started with Mr. Warner playing football, he just made us love the game," Eyerly said, referring to John Warner, his former Parks and Recreation league coach.
It was from that early age that Eyerly said he knew he wanted to play college football. He recalled going to high school games throughout his youth and dreaming of playing under the lights of Frank Graham Field on Friday nights.
For the past four years he was one of those "big kids" on the high school field. His final three seasons were among the most successful in school history as LHS won a Kaw Valley League title, won two district titles and made three straight playoff appearances.
"It's been way too quick," he said of those years.
Eyerly was instrumental in the Lions' success as a fullback and linebacker, but his senior season was cut short when he tore the MCL in his left knee. He admitted the knee injury helped solidify his decision to play college football.
"That happened and I was like, 'Man, I don't want it to end here. I want to keep on playing,'" he said.
He was recruited by Dodge City to play fullback. He said the coaches told him he'd need to add about 15 pounds to his 5-foot-10, 200-pound frame before reporting to camp in the fall.
Eyerly said he was attracted to Dodge City because it only had a few fullbacks on the roster. That means his opportunity to play might be greater.
LHS coach Bill Pekarek said Eyerly would be a valuable asset to the Conquistadors because of his work ethic and commitment to improving.
"Daniel is our current squat champion," Pekarek said, citing Eyerly's commitment to the weight room. "He beat Jeff Snyder's record that had been here for a long time, and he bumped it up to 435 pounds last year. Daniel's got strength. He runs the ball hard. He really improved his blocking this past year. He's got the heart and the drive to be a hard worker."
After his college football career is over, Eyerly wants to become a coach and share his love of the game to a new generation of football players.
"I am hoping I can be as good a coach as Mr. Warner was," he said.