VAN ALSTYNE — Panthers senior running back Jake Carroll signed his letter of intent to play at Dordt University with a crowd of fellow students and family watching.

Carroll ran for 1,141 yards and 15 touchdowns on 124 carries and caught 18 passes for 146 yards in helping the Panthers go 7-5 and earn the program's first playoff win since 2013. He was selected first-team all-district at running back and linebacker and was an academic all-state pick.

He was also part of the state champion 1,600 meter relay team last spring.

Dordt University, which is located in Sioux City, Iowa, competes at the NAIA level. The Defenders are part of the Great Plains Conference with schools in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.

“They came down to the school to talk to me and I really just liked the values of the program,” Carroll said. “Then whenever we went up there to visit it did nothing but confirm what we were told.”

Carroll did not visit another school as Dordt was the only one to have his degree program that was in the recruiting mix. The other schools he was considering were Southeastern Oklahoma, East Central, Austin College, Southwestern Oklahoma and Oklahoma Baptist.

His plan is to major in Mechanical Engineering and Carroll's visit to Dordt confirmed his academic path.

“There are several things that set them apart,” he said. “First, their outstanding academics and in particular their engineering program is No. 3 in the Midwest. Secondly, they have built their program around glorifying God and playing for the team, not yourself.”