Not many college football coaches recruit 4-foot-10, 70-pound wide receivers, but when David Beaty heard about Tayber Witt, the Kansas coach couldn’t resist.
Beaty included Witt, an 11-year-old from nearby Tonganoxie, among the Jayhawks’ National Signing Day additions Wednesday, highlighting the relationships the elementary school student is developing with KU football players and staff members.
Witt, who lives with a genetic disorder, and the Jayhawks came together through Team Impact, a national nonprofit that connects children facing life-threatening or chronic illnesses with the support system of a college sports team.
“I was excited,” Witt told reporters after partaking in a signing ceremony, complete with a blue No. 22 jersey and KU cap, inside Anderson Family Football Complex.
Witt already has spent time with KU players such as junior safety Bryce Torneden and will continue to do so frequently. His mother, Lorelei, said Tayber already has shared videos of his experiences with KU football players with his classmates in Tonganoxie.
Torneden quickly felt attached to the youngster and finds Witt’s attitude inspiring.
“I definitely feel like I’ve gained so much from this experience. I count my blessings,” said Torneden, who hopes many more Jayhawks will hit it off with their new “teammate,” as well. “And I feel like I’ve gained a family member, like a younger brother. I’m the youngest in my family. I always wanted a little brother or a little sister. Tayber, I feel like he’s my little brother already.”
Beaty sees the 11-year-old “signee” bringing joy to everyone he encounters around the football complex.
“We feel like we had to effectively fill our needs with key pieces of the puzzle,” Beaty said, keeping with the signing day theme, “and there is no doubt that Tayber is one of them. Team Impact is ultimately designed for us to change Tayber's life by supporting him in all areas. But it's very clear to me now that we've spent some time with Tayber, that he's going to be the one that's making the huge impact on us. So welcome to the family, Tayber. Appreciate you, man. Excited. Good deal.”