By Jim Metcalfe
DHI Correspondent
DELPHOS — Both had a couple of options as to what they would do next fall as far as collegiate sports.

Both decided on the same thing: football.

How they came about that decision was slightly different.

Jefferson senior Zavier Buzard couldn’t give up his gridiron dream as he picked Ashland University to play for the Eagles of head coach Lee Owens.

Fellow Wildcat senior Austin Jettinghoff chose his major first — physical therapy — and then chose the Trine University Thunder to continue this football career.

“I could have chosen to play baseball but football is my first love; I didn’t want to give that up just yet,” Buzard explained. “When I chose Ashland, it just seemed right: the program, the coaches, the team, everything. I like baseball but football is first for me. It just seemed so right to me on my visits; it all just seemed to come together in this decision. They have a pretty successful football program and I want to be a part of that.”

The Eagles, who are members of the NCAA Division II ranks in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, were among a group of others, including the University of Findlay (Div. II), Otterbein University (Division III), Ohio Northern University (III) and Bluffton University (III), that Buzard considered.

In the end, the Eagles were the choice.

However, Buzard has been rehabbing labrum surgery (due to a dislocation suffered in the fall against Lima Central Catholic) that occurred February 6, so his progress has been stymied somewhat.

Currently, he is preparing to play baseball for the Wildcats as a designated hitter — because he cannot throw at this point — and perhaps a pinch-runner with his speed.

“I am a little behind as far as physical development but I have been lifting for my legs and stuff. I figure to be released in June or earlier to begin full-scale workouts with their program and will be ready in time for reporting in August,” Buzard said.

Buzard, a prospective psychology major at Ashland, was a successful running back in the Wildcats’ shotgun 4-wide spread offense last fall, a plus as he prepares to play in the same kind of scheme for the Division II Eagles.

“That was another plus: they ran the same stuff we ran this fall, so the adjustment won’t be nearly as much as if they ran something else. However, even if they had run something different, I’d have chose them, I like it so much,” Buzard added. “I go about 190 pounds; they haven’t put a number for me to report at. They want me to enjoy my baseball this spring, work the program during the summer and worry about it when I report. They just want me to report in August in the best shape I can be and I’m sure they can bulk me up when I get there.”

Jettinghoff went about it in a different way.

He wanted to major in Physical Therapy all along and eventually get a doctorate in the field, with football a secondary part of the equation.

When Trine, the former Tri-State University, in Angola, Ind., decided to start a doctoral program in the program starting in 2014, the decision was assured.

“That is exactly what I wanted to do and when Coach (Matt) Land told me — along with Buzzie and Ross (Thompson) when we were all on a visit — of the school’s plans, I was hooked for sure. My goal was to see who had this program and then pick the based on that,” Jettinghoff asserted. “For me, I could have chosen to play baseball or basketball but at this point, I don’t feel I’m good enough to play Division II in either and felt Division III football was my best bet.

“I liked the environment and the fact it’s a smaller school; I like the small-town atmosphere and didn’t want to attend a bigger school.”

He will get that at the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association institution.

“Another asset is it’s only about 80 minutes away; it’s north of Fort Wayne,” he said.

For now, he is also preparing to play baseball for the Wildcats of head coach Doug Geary.

“I’ve been lifting weights ever since we got beat in the basketball tournament,” Jettinghoff added. “Around mid-April, I will be given their off-season workout and I will start doing that program then. I will do that the rest of the spring and summer and then report come August.”