KINGMAN - When Kingman Academy senior Johnny Herrero showed up for basketball practice Wednesday afternoon, there was no doubt where he decided the next chapter of his life would take place.
He was wearing it on his basketball shorts.
Herrero, who helped lead the Tigers to the Charter Athletic Association's 4A state title, signed a letter of commitment during Wednesday's National Signing Day to play football for Northern Arizona University. He is expected to play on the defensive line.
"I've always been familiar with Flagstaff, so it's always been a second home to me," Herrero said. "I went on an official visit and got to meet the coaches and all the players and it just seemed right going to that school."
Herrero joins Kingman High senior Natalie Casson, who verbally committed to play volleyball for Le Moyne University, a NCAA Division II school in Syracuse N.Y.
"I think it came down to the education part," said Casson, who plans to be a pre-medical major. "They just got a new science building and I think it will better prepare me for medical school."
Casson, a four-year starter for the Lady Bulldogs, finished her senior season ranked No. 14 in Division I for aces (49), No. 15 for hitting percentage and No. 5 for kills with 284. She is the first KHS athlete to move on to a Division I or II school in volleyball.
"I am very proud of Natalie," said KHS volleyball coach Traci Rosenbach. "I am glad to be a part of her life as a coach the last four years. I have watched her grow and become a remarkable young women and a wonderful volleyball player.
"Although I am truly proud of her accomplishments, she will be missed. I have no doubts she will be wonderful at Le Moyne, both academically and as an athlete."
Herrero, who plans to pursue a major in either physical therapy or become a physician's assistant, joins his brother Jim on the Lumberjacks' roster. Jim, a 2011 graduate of KAHS, was a walk-on who red-shirted his freshman year and plays offensive line.
Johnny is expected to follow in his brother's footsteps and red-shirt his freshman season and then be offered a scholarship when the four current defensive linemen graduate after next season.
"John has really good size right now (about 225 pounds) and still has room for growth," NAU assistant coach Travis Barker said on NAU's athletic website. "He moves well for a big guy and plays hard. I think his competitiveness and enthusiasm for the game of football will be big factors in his development at the college level."
Casson at times had a mailbox full of college offers, including a pair of NCAA Division I schools - Mississippi State and Mississippi Valley. Her scholarship offer from Le Moyne is half athletic and half academic and is the culmination of a lot of hard work that saw her attend a camp in Australia while playing numerous club volleyball matches and tournaments in order to improve her game.
"I'm so happy to have the opportunity to play because I've put so much work into it," Casson said. "It really paid off and I'm excited."
In addition to playing volleyball for the Lady Bulldogs, Casson also played soccer and is currently getting ready for her final tennis season. Although she loves her other sports, she's not sure if the demands of pre-medical courses and the commitment to volleyball will allow her to do anything else.
"Probably just volleyball, but we'll see," Casson said.
Like Casson, Herrero is a three-sport athlete at KAHS, playing basketball and soccer in addition to football. As is the case with Casson, Herrero isn't sure if his football schedule and coursework will allow him to participate in other sports.
However, if the rumor is true, there is one sport he wouldn't mind pursuing.
"I heard they had a bass fishing team," Herrero said. "That I might be interested in. I love to bass fish. That can't get in the way of football too much."