BY MIKE ECKERT
TRAVERSE CITY — With National Signing Day two weeks away, Kingsley senior Tristan Eickenroth knows that he'll be playing football at the collegiate level next fall.
Figuring out the where is the harder part.
Eickenroth, who saw his senior season cut short with a broken arm last fall, has verbally committed to play at Ferris State. However, Army has made a push, and the opportunity to play Division 1 at West Point has him mulling his options.
"I've been thinking about my family," Eickenroth said. "Going to West Point, it's there for me. I just worry about my family with how far away I'll be. But if I did go there, it would be a great opportunity. It would be the push any person could need to start their life after high school. It's a thrilling thought to have.
"In the same light, going to Ferris, I'm very comfortable there. I've been there a few times, I know the coaches and the players. It's a very warm feeling when I go there."
Eickenroth plans to make a decision by signing day. Either way, he said he's enjoyed the recruiting process.
"It's been really nice," Eickenroth said. "It's very humbling to know that you're wanted, and that you can go to the next level and play. Talking to recruits and knowing that I was still wanted after my injury was very exciting. It's been a little hectic, but it's not overwhelming."
Last season, Eickenroth broke his arm in the season-opening win against St. Francis. He returned and ran for 700 yards and 10 touchdowns in 3.5 games.
"It (the injury) sure didn't hurt him, but it didn't help him either," Stags coach Jason Leonard said. "Maybe he would've caught some attention somewhere else if he ran for 1,700 yards or had seven interceptions. But every coach I talked to said 'it was just an arm. He can still run, still move.' It didn't matter."
Eickenroth isn't the only football player in the area facing decisions heading to signing day.
At Traverse City West, seven players from this year's senior class could go on to play football.
"I don't know if we had any blue-chippers, but it's a really good class of good men," Titans coach Tim Wooer said.
Linebacker Derrick Diver has verbally committed to Michigan Tech and plans on signing in two weeks. Chance Murphy has a partial offer to play at Sienna Heights and Tyler Johnson is being tested this week at Grand Valley State with both football and track in the mix. Donny Cizek, Nick Whiting, Dustin Tucker and Chris Doherty are all weighing Division 2 and Division 3 options.
TC Central will also have a signee to Michigan Tech on Feb. 6 in offensive tackle Tyler Gildersleeve.
Trojans linebacker Nate Pupel has offers from Sienna Heights and Northern Michigan and will visit Saginaw Valley State, Northwood and Ferris State. T.J. Schepperly has an offer from Sienna Heights with visits to Saginaw Valley State and Northwood scheduled.
TC Central coach Tom Passinault said both Schepperly and Pupel are likely to make a decision before signing day.
Trojans wide receiver T.J. Schwannecke drew some interest, but decided not to play college football due to a shoulder injury. Instead, he's looking at running track at the next level.
Kingsley could have another college football player in Connor Fitzpatrick, who drew some interest from small schools. He's deciding whether to pursue those or choose a college for academics.