Deante Burton and Matt Seiwert got to know each other this summer as college freshmen. The Kansas State football players were on campus throughout June and July, taking classes and working out with their new teammates for the first time.
Saturday’s Kansas Shrine Bowl will be their last tie to high school football.
One might think the time they spent with established college players would give Burton, a receiver from Manhattan, and Seiwert, a defensive tackle from Conway Springs, an upper hand against high school competition. They certainly hope that is the case.
“I came in here in pretty good shape with all the running we did at Kansas State, but there’s not that much of a talent drop,” Burton said. “I’m here playing with the best athletes in Kansas. There is more speed at K-State practices, that’s the biggest difference. But these guys are very fast, very strong and very physical.”
For Seiwert, the game is more than a chance to showcase his skills one last time before permanently moving on to the college level.
“Playing with them is an honor,” he said. “This is a great way to end my high school career.”
Unlike Burton, he will not be practicing or playing with the Wildcats in the fall. He will sit out the semester while paying his own way, then rejoin the team in the spring and receive a scholarship. After playing inside linebacker for most of his high school career, the 6-foot-2, 250-pounder likes the idea of waiting to play his first college game until he is physically ready to compete for playing time on K-State’s defensive line.
Still, this is his last chance to play in a live game for a while.
“It was kind of hard at the beginning, going from linebacker to the defensive line, but our team didn’t have much size and it was what our team needed,” Seiwert said. “I was willing to do whatever. I will play at defensive tackle (today), but then I need to put on some weight. It will be nice to sit back a semester, lift weights and put on muscle mass.”
Burton is hoping to catch passes and use the Shrine Bowl as a springboard into preseason practices.
Though he joins a K-State receiving corps that has both talent and depth, he is hoping to contribute early. He got to know veteran receivers Chris Harper and Tramaine Thompson well the last two months and looks up to the success Tyler Lockett had as a freshman last season.
He thinks he fits in well with that group, but now he needs to prove himself.
“The wide receivers are a wild group, but they work very hard,” Burton said. “They are good people, they are fun and we get along really well. When you go through workouts with them, you start to value that work ethic and what it means to the team. I just want to use what they taught me on the field.”
For now, Burton and Seiwert are trying to impress on the high school gridiron one last time. After that, their minds can wander back to college football, where they are expecting big things this season.
“With everyone returning and the work ethic I have seen everyone put in over the summer, I don’t see why we can’t win it all and win those big games like when we go to Oklahoma,” Burton said. “I don’t see any reason why we can’t win the national championship this year.”