It’s not hard to be from Kansas and not quite sure where El Dorado is. Everyone knows about Butler Community College and the historic success of the football team but to know where it is, it’s possible it may have slipped someone’s mind, even as you drive by on the turnpike and see the sign. You pass it in the blink of an eye.


DeShawn Hanika is one of those. When he was told Butler was 20 minutes outside of Wichita, he thought it was closer to the Oklahoma border.


"Those kids from Northern Kansas typically aren’t fully aware of where we are," Butler Offensive Coordinator Brice Vignery said. "I told DeShawn he drives by it when he plays basketball in Wichita."


Hanika knows now. He’s put in the work for the Grizzly football team and it’s paid off as he committed to Iowa State earlier this week.


The learning process and the waiting game have been the two biggest things for Hanika during his time at Butler. Coming out of high school with no offers, Hanika had to fight and grind to see where he was going to play and when the coaches finally settled on tight end, the position was over loaded with players, forcing a red shirt.


"Coach V [Brice Vignery] and Coach Schaff [Tim Schaffner] came to me in fall came and said it would benefit me if I took a redshirt," Hanika said. "I was having a good fall camp, so it was surprising but there were so many upperclassmen, the tight end position was full."


Many can see that as another setback and Hanika has seen his fair share. He tore his patellar tendon during a workout at a camp with the University of Nebraska. He broke his leg in an AAU basketball game. Every time it appeared that Hanika was getting over the hill, it was another hurdle.


"The waiting is hard because I am a competitor," Hanika said. "I approached every day in practice like it was game day. I wanted to give them a good look because we play in the SEC of JUCO football."


Junior College football isn’t for everyone. It’s a nose-to-the-grind type of football. There are no glamor shots or ESPN spots. There are no top 10 highlights, though you could argue some should be there. You have to earn your stripes and make your decisions matter.


He did just that. Becoming one of the hardest workers on the scout team for the Grizzlies, preparing Butler for their opponents every week, that’s where Hanika shined. He put in the work as the coaches dug into him and pushed him to the brink.


"It was hard," Hanika said. "Coach V [Offensive Coordinator Brice Vignery] always pushed me to my limits. There were days where I asked myself ‘what did I get myself into?"


Hanika credits a lot of his determination, drive and discipline to his head coach at Topeka Hayden, Bill Arnold. At Hayden, a historically success Kansas high school, the expectations of being a champion gave Hanika the tools to succeed at Butler.


"At Hayden there are expectations you have to keep," Hanika said. "Coach Arnold’s expectations of me didn’t change because of my injury. He kept that instilling that discipline in me."


So, he went to work. He pushed himself in the classroom and on the field. With every-thing Hanika has already overcome, what’s another year? He already waited this long. He knew he had to wait for the right time.


"His entire attitude changed after the redshirt conversation," Vignery said. "He was in the weight room and showed why there’s a reason why he was recruited off practice film."


Hanika displayed the ability to do whatever the coaches needed. If it was meant to play quarterback for the practice squad, that’s what he did.


"My coaches reminded me about it all the time," Hanika said. "Whether it is to make you mad or go harder. Coach V always said "When you make it’ not "if you make it."


He’s made it to the big time. Big 12 football. The things kids from Kansas dream about. They grow up going to Big 12 football and basketball games. They understand the quality of football in which comes to battle every Saturday.


"Man, I remember going to watch Iowa State in Big 12 games," Hanika said. "It was like a neutral site game, they traveled so well."


It doesn’t hurt Iowa State is one of the up-and-coming teams in college football. Only four years ago Iowa State was in the cellar of the Big 12. They had not seen a winning season since 2009. Now, they’ve had three straight winning seasons and went to three straight bowl games.


"He’s going to blossom and do big things for them [Iowa State]," Vignery said. "He’s so big and athletic. I watched him drop 28 in a high school basketball game."


With his ability to play tight end now in the back pocket of the Iowa State coaches, they’ll have four years to mold Hanika into a premiere tight end. The Cyclones are expected to have multiple tight ends drafted this weekend, leaving room for Hanika to step in for the next four years for the Cyclones.


"The coaches there have the strength and conditioning to get his weight up," Vignery said. "The speed of the game and how physical that position is will be an adjustment, too."


It helps that Ames is only four hours away. A morning car ride to Ames and his mom and loved ones can get to see him play Big 12 football.


"It’s a dream come true," Hanika said. "For my friends and family being able to hop in a car and come see me on Saturdays, it’s really a blessing."


He needs only two words describe his mindset now that he gets to display what he can do on the biggest state in college football.


"I’m ready."