For two years, Ray Wille was a Highlander. Now, the Hillsboro High School grad will be a Scot.
Wille, who played football for MacMurray College the last two seasons, was left with no place to play, or learn, when the Jacksonville institution shutdown at the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
“I was obviously not very happy,” Wille said of hearing the news. “I was in the basement lifting weights at the time and I kind of just stopped and went for a walk.”
The school of 531 students had been a great fit both athletically, where Wille started at offensive guard for the 5-5 Highlanders, and academically, where he made the dean’s list as an excercise science major.
“The staff was always really nice. My teachers were always really helpful,” Wille remembers about MacMurray. “The students on campus were awesome. My coaches were amazing.”
Those connections he made in Jacksonville have led Wille to the next stop in his journey, a place that he is less familiar with than his previous collegiate home.
“I’m going to Lyon College in Batesville, AR,” said Wille, who follows Head Coach Chris Douglas from MacMurray to Lyon. “With the COVID stuff, I actually haven’t made a visit yet. I’ve just made a few online visits.”
It takes a lot of trust in someone to make the decision to move five and a half hours from your home town, but Coach Douglas has built that trust with Wille over the last two years. The fact that the Scots were 7-3 last year and play some pretty tough competition didn’t hurt either.
“They have a good football team from what I understand. We play five games against Texas schools, so we play the big boys,” Wille said. “I’m looking forward to seeing some new areas of the country.”
An NAIA school and member of the Sooner Athletic Conference for football, Lyon placed third in the conference last season with a 6-2 mark. The two teams ahead of them, Langston University and Ottawa University Arizona, both finished the season ranked in the top 20 nationally. In July, Lyon was named to the College Football America Preseason Top-30 Poll for the first time ever, coming in at 28.
Whether Wille and the Scots actually get on the field this year is still up in the air.
“We are going online for the fall semester and looking at a possible spring season for football,” Wille explained. “If we don’t play football, it would basically be a redshirt season for me.”
Even without the gridiron, Wille is getting a top notch education from Lyon, which is frequently recognized as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the country. Named as one of the “Best Southeastern Colleges” by the Princeton Review, Lyon’s pedigree was a pleasant surprise for Wille.
“I had no idea. I had never even heard of this place,” Wille said of the school of almost 700. “After I got in I learned that it’s very, very exclusive. I had to go to a committee to even get in. I was right there on the line for being automatically accepted. I was a tenth of a GPA point away.”
A second-to-none education and a football program on the rise; that’s a pretty good combo for Wille. For two years, MacMurray was a great home for the former Topper. Here’s hoping Lyon is the same for the rest of his college career.