Two Canisius High School football players are among the several in the area to ink Division I offers during National Signing Day.
All-American and two-time All-Western New York kicker Blake Haubeil inched closer to living his childhood dream of playing for Ohio State University by turning his verbal commitment into an official one, signing with the perennial national title contender during a ceremony at Canisius on Wednesday morning. Teammate Cole Burniston, an All-WNY first team linebacker, signed an offer with University at Buffalo.
Both played key roles in helping the Crusaders win their second New York State Catholic High Schools Athletic Association championship in three seasons.
Others to sign Division I football scholarships include Buffalo News Player of the Year Isaiah McDuffie (Boston College) of Bennett, Brandon Brown (Central Michigan) also of Bennett via Canada Prep and Trench Trophy-winning lineman Nate Emer (Boston College) of Iroquois.
Haubeil set a Monsignor Martin High School Athletic Association record for extra-point kicks in a season, going a perfect 56 for 56. Fifty-three of his 75 kickoffs went for touchbacks.
Haubeil, who kicked for Amherst High School as a freshman and sophomore, also holds the Monsignor Martin record for career PAT kicks (89) and Western New York record for longest field goal (61 yards), which he set as a junior.
Haubeil verbally committed to Ohio State during the school's Friday Night Lights camp prior to his junior year.
"I'm so speechless and humble for this opportunity," said Haubeil, who thanked his family, teammates and coaches. "I can't wait to get down there and show them what I've got. The idea of competing to be the starting kicker at Ohio State is surreal."
"It's always tremendous for our program when we have a guy go on playing college football," Canisius coach Rich Robbins said. "It's even more special when they earn a scholarship to play in the Big Ten."
Burniston moved from full-time running back to linebacker/tight end aftee a junior season in which he was a Connolly Cup finalist. The move not only strengthened Canisius' defense but also flaunted the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder's power and speed -- which caught UB eyes. Burniston said he's recruited as a linebacker/tight end and that he received the offer from the Bulls two weeks ago. Burniston led Canisius in sacks (eight) and forced fumbles (six), recording 77 tackles, including 22 for losses.
He picked UB over Wagner and Rhode Island, as proximity to his home in Grimsby, Ont., proved to be key.
"Being able to stay in Buffalo means a lot to me, it means a lot to my family," said Burniston, who also averaged 7.8 yards on 60 carries and rushed for five touchdowns. "I'd like to thank God. I can't wait to get started at UB with coach (Lance) Leipold and his staff."
In the state Catholic final, Burniston made an interception near his goal line with under two minutes left to set up Canisius' game-winning touchdown drive. On that possession, he also made a key catch in the win 50-44 win over Cardinal Hayes.
Robbins said UB has been interested in Burniston since summer camp at the college.
"They weren't sure what position they wanted him to play," said Robbins, whose team had lots of depth at running back so that it could afford to move Burniston to defense and tight end. "I think (his versatility) was a huge part in him getting a scholarship to UB to play."
Linebacker/tight end Sean Crotty also announced he's heading to Division III school Occidental in Los Angeles, Calif.
The ceremony at Canisius also included three members of the two-time Monsignor Martin champion soccer team announcing their college plans. Vincent Cancilla will stay local and play at Canisius College, while John Paul Bobak and Charles Stube are heading to Division III schools in Ohio. Bobak is going to Franciscan, while Stube will attend Oberlin College in Cleveland.