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Sandy Journal

Top Sandy Athletes Change Schools After Coaches Leave

Sep 09, 2015 11:55AM ● By Bryan Scott

Jordan High graduate Austin Kafentzis is taking his dual-threat quarterbacking skills to University of Nevada/Reno after a coaching change at his first choice of schools, Wisconsin.

By Ron Bevan

Their high schools were as different as were their sports and their genders. But, two Sandy athletes have one thing in common: they both changed college commitments following coaching changes at their once-favored colleges.

Alta’s Rachael McDonald and Jordan’s Austin Kafentzis were committed to play for Nebraska-Kearney and Wisconsin, respectively. Now, both have returned closer to home with McDonald landing at Snow College and Kafentzis enrolling at Nevada-Reno.

McDonald, a 6’2” standout for the Alta girls basketball team, committed to the University of Nebraska/Kearney after she was seen in a basketball tournament in Las Vegas by Bearcats’ coach Jason Boyd. 

“He was the one who told me I was his number-one recruit,” McDonald said. “He got me excited to play because he was so interested in me. He was willing to go out of his way to make me feel comfortable.”

But a difference of opinion between Boyd and UNK’s athletic director forced Boyd to resign. In stepped new coach Carrie Hofstetter with an entirely new game plan.

“I found out she had some recruits of her own she was bringing in,” McDonald said. “She told me I probably wouldn’t get a lot of playing time because of the depth at my position, but she would still honor my scholarship.”

But the news didn’t sit that well with McDonald. “I didn’t want to go there and not play,” she said.

So she called her club coach, Dave Hammer, and asked what other options she had. “He told me Snow College was looking for a player like me, that can play inside but also go outside and play forward,” McDonald said. “They really wanted me, so that was a deciding factor for me.”

Hofstetter was willing to release McDonald from her scholarship, so she didn’t lose any eligibility.

Nearly the same story happened with Kafentzis. A four-year starter for the Beetdiggers, Kafentzis set several state football records and was twice named Gatorade Player of the Year for Utah. He was highly recruited from several Division 1 schools and settled on the vaunted football history at Wisconsin.

But, coach Gary Anderson left Wisconsin to coach at Oregon State. Wisconson tabbed Paul Chryst to come in, and Kafentzis’ style of play was vastly different than Chryst had planned for the Badgers. He was even asked to switch positions to get playing time.

Instead, Kafentzis found a better fit with the Wolfpack at Nevada-Reno, a school that produced another dual-threat quarterback in San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick.

Kafentzis graduated from Jordan early and enrolled at Wisconsin for the spring semester. He played spring football as well as threw the javelin for the track team, throwing the fourth furthest javelin throw in Badger history.

The enrollment has landed Kafentzis in limbo for now. He will keep his four years of eligibility but might have to sit out the 2015 campaign unless he is granted a waiver. The waiver hadn’t been determined at press time.