Colton Buhle-Rutz wanted to play college football after graduating from Morris Community High School, where he was the starting left guard as a senior, in 2012.
While Buhle-Rutz still has that desire, it has not happened yet. He is attending Joliet Junior College and has hopes of transferring to a four-year school where he can play after completing his associate degree.
In the meantime, Buhle-Rutz has found a way to stay in the game. He has joined the Joliet Buccaneers minor league football organization. The Buccaneers are practicing and are scheduled to begin their 10th season on July 13.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” Buhle-Rutz said when asked what he hopes to accomplish with the team. “I have a huge passion for football. That’s why I’m doing this. I also want to stay in football shape. I do plan on playing in college at some point, possibly.”
The recruitment process that brought Buhle-Rutz to the Buccaneers was a bit different than, say, a typical one a prospective college athlete might encounter.
“In my (JJC) criminal justice class, a kid who played for the Buccaneers noticed that I was wearing a Morris football shirt,” Buhle-Rutz said. “He asked me what position I played, and I told him guard and a little defense. Then he asked me if I would like to play for their team. They needed more linemen who were experienced on the line.”
In addition to Buhle-Rutz, the Buccaneers have added former Plainfield Central High School receiver Ty Mangino to their team.
“We hope to be successful with these young men, and we also hope that other additions that we have been recruiting over the last five months help us again get to where we need to be,” assistant head coach Andre Ward said in a Buccaneers press release.
Last season, the Buccaneers went 3-5 and lost their first Mid-States Football League playoff game.
“It’s going good so far. We’re doing Sunday practices. They go for four hours, so that’s a little rough,” Buhle-Rutz said. “I’m one of the youngest players on the team. I’m still trying to get to know some of the people. I like everyone so far. I can see us being a good team.”
New Buccaneers head coach Vernon McCants was an assistant last season as the team earned a wild-card playoff spot, ending a four-year drought. He expects returning to the playoffs to be difficult.
“This is an impressive schedule; I think that we have to again fight for our chances at a playoff spot for our division,” McCants said in the release.