Red Bud High School hasn’t been a home for Division I talent.
But senior tight end Alex Birchler changed that Wednesday when he signed with Drake, located in Des Moines, Iowa. The Bulldogs play in the Pioneer Football League of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Birchler had 40 catches for 840 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior, helping the Musketeers finish 6-4 and reach the Class 2A playoffs.
“I had a lot of interest from a lot of schools,” Birchler said. “Drake was the way to go. Their academics are excellent and the athletic program is something I want to be a part of. They travel coast to coast; it’s almost like (being) a pro, with the scouting reports and traveling on airplanes. It’s something I really want to do and I’m excited to do.”
Birchler, who also recorded 55 tackles, five interceptions and one fumbled recovery at defensive back, has been a three-sport star at Red Bud, also competing in basketball and baseball. He is the son of Greg and Kathy Birchler, who attended the signing ceremony along with other family members, several teammates and coach Dave Lucht.
In three years on the varsity level, Birchler had 81 catches for 1,818 yards and 26 touchdowns. Lucht believes Birchler’s skill set will transfer well to the college level.
“I think he will excel,” Lucht said. “He’s always been dedicated; he’s driven. The academic side, he’s real strong on. I don’t think that’s going to be a distraction for him, trying to balance both. That will come hand in hand (with football). And maturity-wise, he’s going to get bigger. If he sticks with it, he’s going to have a big future.
“It’s great honor for him and it’s great for our program to have someone to go to the next level, especially that level. I think we’re all winners on this one.”
Birchler, who is undecided on a major, said he expects to be redshirted this fall, which will enable him to reach 220 or 225 pounds by the time he begins to play in August 2019.
Bulldogs coach Rick Fox is eager to get Birchler on campus and watch his development.
“We’re tremendously excited to have Alex join the Drake Bulldog family,” Fox said. “He’s a very talented and versatile athlete who fits the mold of a Drake football player. Alex is a young man that wants to do something great with his life as well as on the football field.”
Birchler also considered Missouri S&T, Valparaiso, Butler, Indianapolis, Cornell, DePauw, Washington University, Rhodes College and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
Birchler has the speed to succeed in Division I, having been timed at 4.63 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He could be classified as a late bloomer.
“When I got into high school, I wasn’t sure if I was Division I material,” he said. “But I grew 6 inches and put on 80 pounds. I started getting interest from Division II, D-II and finally Drake and a few other school started popping up. I was like, ‘Dang, I can really do this.’ I just had to compete every day out on the field. There was no doubt in my mind that this was something I wanted to do. Two months later, I’m doing it.”
Birchler said Fox already know how he wants to use him.
“Coach Fox said, ‘I want you to stretch the field against linebackers you’re faster than. You’re just going to run across the middle, catch and make one move and try to score for us,’” Birchler said. “That really piqued my interest there.”