BOULDER — Darren Burton has never forgotten just how much his mother wanted him to one day attend college. On Wednesday, Burton made that dream a reality.

National signing day meant a little bit more to Burton, whose mother passed away suddenly almost two years ago due to a heart attack. She clearly remained at the forefront of Burton’s mind as he joined six Boulder classmates in a letter of intent signing ceremony in Boulder’s gymnasium.

Burton, who will continue his career at Colorado Mesa, was joined by teammate Logan Bock (Colorado School of Mines), wrestler Axel Wessell (Lehigh), and four of the Panthers’ girls soccer players.

“She always told me to get a college education with football, or you have to take out loans,” Burton said. “It’s pretty special doing this, that I’m making her proud and taking that final step to go to college. That’s what she always wanted and that’s what I’ve always wanted.”

Wessell joins a Lehigh program that already boasts his older brother Max, who went 41-0 during a 2009-10 season that ended with a state title. Axel Wessell has been sidelined for the bulk of the season due to a shoulder injury that has hampered him for much of his prep career, and he admitted the surgery he endured months ago caused concern with how he would be received on the recruiting trail.

“It was stressful,” Wessell said. “In terms of going to the next level, fortunately I knew the coaches at Lehigh pretty well. And I had other coaches at top universities tell me that as long as I’m healthy by the time I get to college, they’ll take me. That took a lot of the stress off the whole decision-making process.”

Boulder’s contingent of soccer player signees included Abby Burridge (Loyola, Ill.), Erin Stenhouse (Colgate), Katie Simpson Johnson (Western State), and Sarah Pykkonen (Tufts).

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