Each of the three Vista Ridge seniors that signed Wednesday to continue their football careers made their decisions in the days and weeks leading up to National Signing Day.
After taking visits and discussing their options with family and coaches, DeOnte Washington, Micah Hilts and Chase Mestas put pen to paper after school Wednesday in the school cafeteria.
Washington decided in the last couple days that Colorado State was the best fit for him, while Hilts committed to Texas State, another Division I program, after a visit a couple weeks ago.
Mestas is headed to Division II Chadron State, in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, after some deliberation.
“For the past few weeks, it was very stressful,” Mestas, an offensive tackle, said. “It was between (Chadron) and another school. Once I figured out this is where I wanted to go, it was a huge weight off my shoulders.”
For Washington, one more visit to Fort Collins over the weekend helped seal the deal, as he made the decision on Sunday night.
“It was a talk with my parents,” Washington said, “seeing what the better outcome was.”
Hilts committed on a trip to San Marcos after showing up without an offer from the Sun Belt program.
“I got down there, straight from the airport pretty much they took me to the head coach, and he offered me,” said Hilts who committed just before returning home.
The three, set to play three different positions in three separate states, share one more thing in common.
“They’re going to dedicate themselves to getting better for the programs they’re playing for,” Vista Ridge football coach Jeremy Calip said. “They’re getting three guys that are extremely hard workers.”
That work ethic will come in handy, as all three have weight to gain and plans to spend a good chunk of their remaining time at home in the weight room.
Hilts, 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds on MaxPreps, is listed as a tight end in Texas State’s signing-day release, while Mestas projects as an offensive tackle at 6-5 and 230 pounds.
“There’s nothing to putting 40 or 50 pounds on a 6-5, 6-6 frame,” Calip said.
“If you’re willing to do that and invested, I think the rewards are going to be pretty fruitful.”
The 6-foot-2, 253-pound Washington is the most sturdy of the three, but he’s also got work to do as he plans to move inside to defensive tackle exclusively after playing some edge rusher and linebacker for Vista Ridge. He also hopes to use his versatility to help the Rams on special teams.
“I think it’s not going to be a big change,” Washington said. “I got my good first step. Just work on my hands a little bit, and I’ll be good to go.”
His coach agrees.
“Another 20 pounds and who knows, we might see him on Sundays one day,” Calip said.
“He’s so explosive. He’s played on the edge so much, moving inside will be a really seamless transition because he’s naturally strong.”
While all three used about as much time as possible, all sound pleased with their final choice.
For Hilts and Mestas, their future coaches played a big role.
“The coaching staff is great,” Hilts said. “That’s kinda what pushed me over the edge.”
“It was definitely their coaching,” Mestas said. “I went on the visit and liked it a lot more than I thought I was going to.”
For Washington, it was the whole package.
“What sold me, I just liked the campus, the football, like the whole entire football thing. I really loved it.”