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Haley inks with Graceland

Published: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 1:52 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 2:02 a.m. CDT
Nathan Haley (front center) of Creston/O-M signs a National Letter of Intent to play football at Graceland University Tuesday morning at Creston High School. Shown in front with Nathan are his mother, Traci, and brother, Jayson, along with Panther head coach Brian Morrison. In rear from left are Nathan's sisters Nicole and Megan, along with Graceland head coach Jeff Douglas and assistant coach Stan Rupe.

A visit to a local shoe store ended up landing Creston/O-M all-state offensive lineman Nathan Haley a scholarship offer to play football at Graceland University.

Haley, first-team all-district center and a member of the Iowa Newspaper Association all-state third team in Class 3A as a senior, signed his National Letter of Intent Tuesday in front of Graceland head coach Jeff Douglas and assistant coach Stan Rupe.

Rupe, a former coach at Wayne of Corydon and well-known sports official, has umpired often with Steve McCann, owner of Family Shoe Store in Creston.

Haley was thinking of going to Morningside in Sioux City before speaking with McCann recently.

“I walked in to Family Shoe Store one day and Steve McCann asked if I’d made a decision yet,” Haley related. “I said not really. He said, ‘I have a friend at Graceland. I’ll talk to him.’ It wasn’t 15 minutes later when coach Rupe was on the phone with me.”

Haley said he visited Graceland less than two weeks ago and quickly made a decision.

“I can see myself being successful there, academically and in football,” Haley said. “I want to be a teacher and coach — major in secondary education — and their program is nationally accredited. It’s very good.”

Head coach Jeff Douglas said the 6-foot-2, 250-pound Panther is projected as a center, but that could change.

“He’s probably looking at that center position from the start, but I don’t ever lock anyone into one position,” Douglas said.

“Coach said I’d come in at center, but if two of us are good enough to play on Saturdays, one of us could move to guard,” Haley said.

“It was a quick turnaround for us with Nate,” Douglas said. “He came down to school and liked what he saw. We liked what we saw of him on film. We expect him to compete to play right away as a freshman and be an impact player for us.”

Graceland is an NAIA school playing in the Heart of America Conference. In a rebuilding season in 2013, the Yellowjackets were 1-10 overall and 0-9 in the HAAC.

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