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Lathrops Tisdell makes school history with signing
pic-lathrop tisdell n
Lathrop Highs RJ Tisdell was all smiles after signing his National Letter of Intent Wednesday to play football in the fall for University of St. Mary in Kansas. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT / The Bulletin

RJ Tisdell made it official.

On Wednesday’s National Signing Day, he became the first-ever Lathrop High athlete to go directly to a four-year college football program.

Tisdell, who played wide receiver and defensive back for the Spartans, is going to University of St. Mary in Leavenworth, Kan.

It was a program-record day for the Spires, who welcomed 29 newcomers altogether including 21 from six different states – Missouri, Oregon, Texas, Hawaii, California and Kansas – for their 2017 recruiting class.

Tisdell is listed at the St. Mary official website as a 5-foot-7, 165-pound wide receiver.

He was named second team all-Valley Oak League as defensive back while playing for the Lathrop High program under Joe Pirillo for the past two years.

“St. Mary has a great product in RJ,” Pirillo said. “He’s smart, determined and a hard worker.

“He runs crisp routes and knew our offense like the back of his hand.”

According to Lathrop High athletic director Nicole Burrows, Tisdell got noticed from the NCSA website – the Next College Student Athlete and originally known as the National Collegiate Scouting Association – which is deemed the largest recruiting network.

He looked at several colleges, but found plenty of comfort in the NAIA football program that plays in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.

The Spires are coming off a program-best 8-3 record (7-2 KCAC) including the highest ranking in school history.

St. Mary finished just outside the NAIA Football Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, receiving 11 votes.

“I liked the area – it’s a wide-open town (of about 35,000), peaceful and friendly – and what the school has to offer,” said Tisdale, who looking to major in chemistry with an emphasis in medicine.

His signing event consisted of friends, family, teammates, coaches, staff and administrators.

“He’s living proof that it takes a village,” Burrows said of Tisdell, who will possibly red shirt during his first season.

He was wowed by the moment.

“I really can’t describe it,” he said. “It’s a day I’ll never forget.”

Nor will Lathrop High.

Tisdell just set a new standard for the school on National Signing Day.


To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail