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Ottawa senior Cyrano Rayfield (seated, left) signed Thursday to play football at the University of Mary, an NCAA Division II school in Bismarck, N.D. He was joined by his mother, Pennie (seated, right), father, Cyrano (standing, right) and Ottawa football coach Trent Swords. NewsTribune photo/Kevin Chlum
OTTAWA — When Ottawa senior Cyrano Rayfield went to Bismarck, N.D. the weekend of Jan. 11-12 to visit the University of Mary, he just knew it was the right choice for him.
After calling his parents Cyrano and Pennie, he committed before he left campus. Rayfield made it official Thursday when he signed a National Letter of Intent to play football for the NCAA Division II school.
“It’s that feeling that only you get to know — that inner feeling that this is the place I want to be,” Rayfield said about why he picked Mary. “It was right. I was a great fit for them and they were a great fit for me. I can definitely see myself getting my education there and being an impact on the football field.”
Rayfield joins a Marauders program coming off its first winning season in five years at 6-5. Mary has a new coach in Josh Kotelnicki, who comes to Bismarck after serving as associate head coach and defensive coordinator last season at the University of North Dakota.
“With the new coach, he has a mindset that we’re going to do this, this and that and we’re going to win a national championship,” Rayfield said. “I love that because he’s not scattered all over the place. He has a goal, and he’s going to accomplish it.”
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Rayfield will play defense for the Marauders.
He was a two-time NewsTribune All-Area selection on defense and the 2012 NewsTribune Defensive Football Player of the Year.
As a senior, he finished with 69 tackles (27 solo), two fumble recoveries and 1.5 sacks as a defensive lineman.
“He works extremely hard,” Ottawa coach Trent Swords said. “We were just looking for a place to give him an opportunity. Our track record has shown that Ottawa kids, if given the opportunity, will work themselves into startling lineups and scholarships, and Cyrano is going to be no different.
“He has the same work habits. He’ll get there, work hard, do what he’s told to do, get good grades and get himself on the field.”
Rayfield said Mary’s coaches are considering him at defensive end, inside linebacker or outside linebacker.
“Coach (Jason) Thier (the defensive coordinator) told me what’s so unique about me is I can play three different positions for them,” Rayfield said. “He told me it depends on how I come in this August. That’s pretty exciting to hear that. It means I’m a versatile football player that I can play different positions.
“I’m a team player, so if they need somebody at inside linebacker, I’ll go there. If they need somebody on the defensive line, I’ll go there for the team’s sake.”
Rayfield, who plans to study athletic training chose Mary over Robert Morris, Indianapolis and Truman State.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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