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Toutant, others set to play at next level

WARREN, Mich. — The new normal may not exactly be in place yet, but De La Salle Collegiate senior Grant Toutant is already preparing himself for when the day comes. 

Like all of his classmates, he's been working hard — from home — this spring in preparation for graduation. He's been taking his classes online, as has everyone else. But in a sense, he doesn't mind all that much.

"I miss my friends, but it really hasn't been that bad," said Toutant, who has signed a National Letter of Intent to play football at Ohio State University next year. "Doing class online has actually got me ready for taking online classes at OSU. I've also had more time to work out and condition. I can't wait to officially be a Buckeye. It's been a long-time dream of mine to play college football and I'm doing it at The Ohio State."

Toutant and 15 of his classmates were all set to participate in a signing ceremony at De La Salle on Wednesday. But things didn't necessarily work out the way everyone had hoped. Instead, the seniors have been finishing up the spring academic year at home, preparing themselves for the next level each in their own way.

Along with Toutant, the football team was well represented with a total of seven players moving on the play at the college level. 

Braden Babich (Grand Valley State University), Jack Herndon (Tiffin University), Ricky Pearson (Albion College), Jordan Rogers (Albion College), Jadan Vizina (Concordia University) and Michael Young, Jr. (Eastern Illinois University) will all extend their playing careers.

There are five baseball players moving on to the next level. Ryan Drake (Adrian College), Jacob Gumieny (Mott CC), Gabriel Kirck (Olivet College), Dominic Manion (Rochester University), Brendan Pochmara (Hillsdale College) and Anthony LaRocca (Indiana Tech).

Justin Burke will be diving at Northern Michigan University in 2020-21. He, along with Drake, Pochmara, and LaRocca all had a chance to celebrate with family and teammates back in February.

Kyle Betleg (Lourdes University) and Josh Smith (Lawrence Tech University) will play lacrosse at the next level. Though Smith and his teammate would love nothing more than to be on the field this spring, playing on the new turf at De La Salle, he's now shifting his focus on what comes next. 

"Lacrosse is a huge part of my life, not only because I love the sport itself, but for the people I play with," Smith said. "It has really hit home that this is something the team can't control as we watch the days of our season go by. That being said, there is nothing I can do about it so I am going to continue to look forward to college ball and work harder than ever to reach my goals (at Lawrence Tech). 

At this point, all Toutant has are great memories from his time playing varsity football and basketball for the Pilots.

"What I'll remember most about De La Salle is our two state championships," he said. "Some people dream of just one and don't get it. We did it back to back. I'll also never forget playing a final four game at the Breslin for basketball my sophomore year. I've been blessed to be a part of something special here. I'll never forget it."

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