Fairview's Kailash Graham-Bell and Mitch Tyse have been a tag team since about third grade, and even when the opportunity to pursue college athletics presented itself recently, the East Coast was very much in the conversation for both.
And while Graham-Bell found his comfort zone with the Penn football team in the hub of Philadelphia, Pa., Tyse ended up taking a big swing in another direction — the opposite direction, in fact.
People might discover a lot about Santa Clara, Calif., this week — and a lot of those same things are what drove Tyse to commit to Santa Clara University for baseball.
Twitter will likely keep the friendship alive, but on Wednesday the pair were among several senior FHS students making their choices final on National Signing Day.
Days before the actual ceremony, both Graham-Bell and Tyse were grateful to be taking that step on the same day.
"The recruiting processes were a little different for us, but we were going through it at the same time, and it was always interesting hearing his experiences with coaches and stuff," Graham-Bell said on Monday. "So it was cool to have a good friend going through the process."
"When I was in third grade, I didn't even think something like this was possible, so the thought of being able to sign those papers with a friend like Kailash right there is really exciting," Tyse added.
Graham-Bell is a three-sport athlete for Fairview, currently trying to help the Knights finish out the basketball season on a high note. He also is an excellent swimmer, having qualified for the state meet in the sprint freestyle races each of the past two seasons.
But at 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds, Graham-Bell will be playing defensive end collegiately for the Quakers — with the prospect still alive of playing tight end, too. His senior season at FHS included 64 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, an interception and two caused fumbles.
Graham-Bell considered several Ivy League schools, even meeting up with former teammate Anders Hill while looking around at Columbia, but everything fit at Penn. Including an Ivy League football championship the Quakers just corralled this year.
"There were a whole bunch of things, but the fact their coaching staff are very experienced and that they were coming off the Ivy League championship was big," said Graham-Bell, who also officially visited Harvard and Yale. "On top of that, they have one of the best business schools in the country and that's my main interest. Balancing football and academics was the biggest thing for me.
"Just going to the city of Philadelphia really excites me, too."
For Tyse, a good business school was important, and Santa Clara had the added incentive of family in the area. The Broncos also play in the West Coast Conference, whereas a lot of the other schools he was strongly considering were Division II and III programs.
"The competition is going to be really good, and I think that's going to challenge me more than if I were to play at a different level of baseball," said Tyse, an outfielder. "I really felt like I was on the same (page) as the coaching staff, too, just as far as the way they run their program.
"The academics there are stellar and they have a great business school. Also, having an aunt and a couple cousins about five minutes away, I have a place where I can go that feels like home."
Tyse's stock has risen as far as the Major League Baseball draft, too. Last year, he hit .405 for the season and nine of his 17 hits went for extra bases.
So, the spring baseball season isn't completely free and clear for Tyse, but the knowledge that his college choice has been made has lifted weight off his shoulders.
"(Being drafted) isn't really a pressuring thing, I would say. I can really focus on having fun and making the most of my senior season," Tyse said.
Thomas Creese, football, Dodge City Community College
Wyatt Dessel, soccer, Muhlenberg College
Kailash Graham-Bell, football, Penn
Jordan Karels, football, Western State
Carlo Kemp, football, Michigan
Zetta Mason, track, Minnesota
Maddy McCambridge, golf, University of Wisconsin-Stout
Michaela Mullison, swimming, University of Chicago
Mitch Tyse, baseball, Santa Clara