FAIRFIELD — Austen Kindle wanted to stay close to home to continue his football career and Menlo College is giving him the opportunity.
The Rodriguez High senior signed a letter of intent to play for the Oaks before friends, family, teachers and coaches in a ceremony in the school library, Tuesday.
“It felt comfortable,” Kindle said of Menlo’s Atherton campus, which he visited earlier this month. “It’s a real good school, a real good business school. Everything was close to home. It wasn’t too far away from home where I’d feel homesick.”
Before getting his chance to speak, Kindle was honored by several others. He made an impression with the school’s main office while working there as a teacher’s assistant.
“He’s just a model student in athletics and academics,” said Vice Principal James Hightower. “He’s a class act on every level.”
Leonard Morrow coached Kindle at the junior varsity level and was impressed by him as both a person and a player.
“He spoke with actions on the field and off the field,” Morrow said. “He’s going to be a future leader, somewhere.”
Morrow spoke of players who asked to play running back, but often fell short.
“They looked the part but Austen was the part,” Morrow said. “Put the ball in his hands and magic happens. Menlo’s going to see what I’m talking about.”
Former Rodriguez assistant Scott Tannahill saw great things from Kindle with Mustangs and is looking for even bigger things with the Oaks.
“As great an athlete as you were in high school, to me you haven’t even scratched the surface,” Tannahill said.
Aleshia Hunter, Kindle’s mother, thanked the teachers, coaches and mentors who helped shaped her son’s life. She’s also excited about what Menlo has to offer.
“It fit his personality and upbringing and career in what he wants to do in moving on,” she said.
Kindle likewise expressed his gratitude – “I’m blessed to go on,” he said. “I just want to thank you. I appreciate it” – before signing in the proper places.
Kindle said he’d received interest from Alderson Broadus in West Virginia, Minnesota-Crookston and the University of San Diego, but wanted to stay closer to home.
“It’s a great program,” he said. “The coaching staff was great to me. The students there were nice. I can’t wait to get to work.”
He’s also excited about playing for the Oaks, whose fly offense places a premium on speed.
“They want me to go in right away and play on special teams as a kick returner,” Kindle said. “They want me to play wide receiver and work my way into the offense.”
Menlo assistant coach Chris Saunders was there for the proceedings and expressed his excitement in having Kindle on board.
“Obviously, he’s a great young gentleman,” Saunders said. “He’s the kind of kid we’re looking for to bring (to the program). With his change of direction and explosiveness, we want to find some ways to put the ball in his hands.”
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.