Two Warrior footballers ink on National Signing Day
Posted By Sparta Live | February 10, 2014 12:00 am
All across the United States, high school football players signed their name on the dotted line during Wednesday’s National Signing Day for college football.
The first Wednesday of February starts the signing period and most players take advantage of the first day to make their announcements official.
Two senior Warrior football players were part of that big day in high school football when they signed their letters of intent to continue their careers at the college level.
River Boruff signed with East Tennessee State University, an NCAA Division I FCS school located in Johnson City. Hunter Cantrell joined his teammate on signing day when he signed on the line for NCAA Division II’s Tusculum College, which is located in Greeneville, Tennessee. The two schools are approximately 30 miles apart.
A third Warrior will also be playing college football next season. Blake Lynn has decided to walk on at Tennessee Tech. Due to restrictions by the NCAA, universities cannot comment on walk-ons until further along in the process. Look for more details on that later.
Both Cantrell and Boruff have come up through the White County football system beginning their playing days in the youth league, then continuing on to White County Middle School and finishing out at WCHS.
The two have been through the ranks on the Warrior football team and during the four years as members of the WCHS gridiron squad, the team has posted a mark of 24-21 including three trips to the playoffs. This past season, their senior year, the Warriors posted their best record since 1980. They finished 8-3, their first eight-win regular season since 1971. Both Cantrell and Boruff were named two of the three permanent captains of the 2013 team.
The duo also both excelled in the classroom and was members of the honor roll. They were both involved in extracurricular activities. Both were involved as peer mentors for Special Olympics. Cantrell is the president of FCA.
Boruff, a 6-1 fullback/linebacker for the Warriors has earned All District 6AAA honors the past two seasons, including being named the Defensive Most Valuable Player in 2012. He has been named the Warrior Most Valuable Player the past two seasons.
During his two seasons as a fullback, Boruff has rushed for more than 600 yards and has scored six touchdowns and converted five two-point conversions. Boruff was the leading tackler for the Warriors as a junior recording 93 stops and added 94 as a senior. During his junior season, he also caught 10 passes for 121 yards.
Cantrell made a major impact at both defensive end and tight end, but where he stood out was as a punter. This season he punted 32 times for an average of 40.8 yards earning him the 2013 District Superlative for Outstanding Punter. He dropped six punts inside the 20 and had four travels for 50-plus yards. At the end of the 2012 season, he was named honorable mention All District. He was named to Murphy Fair’s Preseason All State Team for Class 5A as a punter in both 2012 and 2013.
As a tight end, he had 11 catches for 125 yards over his final two seasons and a 26-yard touchdown. He also recorded 67 tackles, 19 of which went for a loss, during his senior season.
Cantrell was selected to play in the Tennessee East vs. West All Star game in December.
Cantrell will be headed to play for the Pioneers at Tusculum College, which plays in the South Atlantic Conference of NCAA Division II. Coach Frankie DeBusk’s team finished 4-7 last season.
On why he chose Tusculum, Cantrell says, “When I went up there for a visit, I felt like I was at home. Coach Houser has always stressed about being a family and I think this year, we showed we were a family. I felt that same thing at Tusculum. I feel like I am going from the Warrior family to the Pioneer family.”
Cantrell also really liked the block scheduling which Tusculum uses for their students. A few colleges in the country use this system, in which students take only one class at a time for 18 days. After those 18 days are completed, they take their next class.
As far as the position he will be playing, Cantrell noted, “I will start out as a punter only. They said if they put some weight on me, they might make me into a tight end or defensive end.”
Cantrell, who chose Tusculum over being a preferred walk-on at Tennessee Tech, or playing at Maryville or Centre College, plans to major in physical therapy.
As far as his goals, Cantrell added, “As far as my grades go, I want to maintain a 4.0 GPA the whole time I’m there. In football, my goal is to start as a freshman and improve enough over my career to get some individual honors and help my team win.”
Warrior coach, Matthan Houser, had this to say of Cantrell, “I am extremely proud of Hunter and his decision. I know he has worked extremely hard in our program and definitely made a difference in the two years I’ve been here. He was so consistent at being a punter. We knew we could rely on him. He helped us constantly change field position and use our defense to win football games. He also had a great year at defensive end and tight end. I think Tusculum will be a great fit for him. Coach Crawford did a great job of building a relationship with him.”
Boruff joins a program where even as a freshman he will be one of the veterans of the team. East Tennessee State played their last football game in 2003 and is now reinstating the program under the guidance of Coach Carl Torbush. The Buccaneers will debut their new program in the fall of 2015. The players in the signing class of 2014, the first signing class for the reinstatement of the program, will have a year to get stronger and acclimate to college football life. The program’s first game will be September 3rd, 2015 against Kennesaw State.
That opportunity to be part of a rebuilding program is something that attracted Boruff to ETSU.
“I am excited to get to be a part of that. I feel like our class has helped to rebuild Warrior football and now I am going to be a part of something like that again. I think they are building something good there and it will be the start of a solid program. We’re not going into a hard conference, but it won’t be an easy one either. I think we will be able to compete. I also really liked the fact that whenever I got there on campus, they showed each and every person the same respect. It wasn’t about one particular player or person. It was always about the group and I think that’s important for building a team.”
Coach Torbush, the man charged with rebuilding the ETSU program had this to say of Boruff, “We’re tremendously excited to have River join our program. He was by far one of the most popular recruits we had on campus. I always ask those kinds of questions of the players and he had a bunch, if not most, of the votes of the other recruits. He has a great personality as well as being a great football player. We feel like he’s a linebacker prospect for us, but he could be a running back. He was very good in high school on both sides of the ball. He plays football with great passion and great effort. He plays full speed all the time. He is obviously an athlete. He already has good size, but we believe he will continue to grow and mature over the next year. I know he was excited about his visit here and we are excited about having him come to ETSU.”
Boruff chose ETSU over Tennessee Tech. He plans to major in business administration and go on to get his master’s in that field.
As far as his goals on the football field, “I want to excel in the program. I also want to become a leader like I was for our football team. I really feel like the program up there will be like the one here at White County. Warrior football was like family to me.”
Houser commented on Boruff, “River meant a lot to our team. The entire coaching staff is proud of both of these guys. River was our team MVP the last two seasons. That is voted on by the players so that shows he has a lot of respect in the locker room. He was a catalyst for our defense at MIKE linebacker and also played fullback. He was instrumental in Blake (Lynn) having a great year running the ball as he led the way blocking for him. He played a big role on our team on both sides of the ball. I’m glad he’s getting to go to ETSU and be a part of the first class to start that program back. That’s something his class will always be remembered for. ETSU is a great fit for him. Both of these schools are getting great individuals, great characters, great players and great Warriors.”
WCHS principal, Grant Swallows, commented on both Boruff and Cantrell.
“We are so proud of Hunter and River for all of the hard work that went into the opportunity they have now. They are both outstanding young men and I know they will be successful at the next level. Our goal is to prepare them for life after high school and our coaches, teachers and staff have done a great job. Hunter is a great leader and hardworker so Tusculum is getting a good one in him. River has been a great student and a joy to watch on the football field. ETSU chose wisely when they decided to make him a part of their first recruiting class. Both of their families should be proud and their WCHS family cannot wait to see what is ahead in their bright future.”