It’s certainly not the first time.
The two Norwalk senior football standouts will be preferred walk-ons at NCAA Division I Bowling Green State University. The duo announced the decision jointly on Wednesday in front of family, friends and teammates inside the Reagan All-Sports Complex at Norwalk High School.
Leroux is a defensive end, while Raymore is running back. Both had record-setting 2018 seasons for the Truckers, who won 10 games and advanced to the Div. III state semifinals for the second time in program history.
“I had many Division II offers, but it didn’t feel like it was where I was suppose to be,” Leroux said of his decision. “The first day I walked in and spoke to (BGSU) Coach (Scot) Loeffler, it felt like a match made in heaven and where I was supposed to be.
“With a new coaching staff, it’s my opportunity to walk in and prove myself,” he added. “It gives me an opportunity to work as hard as I can and see where I fit in.”
For Raymore, he sees a similar situation that took place at Norwalk in Bowling Green. It also doesn't hurt he's been taking college-level courses at BGSU's Firelands campus in Huron.
“It made me think how our season went and how BG is right now," Raymore said. "They haven’t had too much success the last few years, kind of like we didn’t at Norwalk. Then Coach (Todd) Fox came in and we all changed the whole thing around, and BG is coming in with a whole new coaching staff, too."
With the coaching transition, Raymore is also looking to seize the opportunity.
“I feel like I have a chance to play," he said. "I just have to focus and put in more work than ever before."
Leroux had 95 tackles and 16 sacks in 14 games last season, while also recovering three fumbles — including one for a touchdown. The 16 sacks set a new program record for a single-season. Leroux was a first-team selection to the All-SBC Lake, All-Northwest District and All-Ohio teams in Div. III.
Meanwhile, Raymore ran 349 times for 2,518 yards and 27 TDs. He was a first-team selection to the SBC Lake and Northwest District teams, and was All-Ohio second team. Raymore set program records for rush attempts, yards and touchdowns in a single-game when he ran 40 times for 407 yards and 6 TDs in a 52-35 win at Sandusky on Oct. 5.
It is one of the top 50 single-game rushing performances in Ohio history. He also set records for rushing attempts in a season (349) and career (648) — and is one of two players in program history (Breck Turner, 2014) to achieve 2,000 yards rushing in a single season. Raymore is second only to Turner in career yards and touchdowns in program history.
After growing up in the Norwalk school system as a kid, Leroux went to Monroeville for several years, including his first two-plus years of high school before transferring back to Norwalk.
Leroux and Raymore were close friends as kids. Now, the two will play in the Ohio North-South All-Star game together on April 27 in Massillon with Fox as the coach, then head to BGSU together in the fall.
“I remember when I let him know when I was coming back, right away he was excited," Leroux said of Raymore. "We knew the year was going to be something special. It's awesome to have a person I was welcomed back into Norwalk by my side going to college, too.”
Added Raymore, "Tche and I grew up together as kids, so it was great seeing him come back and finish our senior year together, This is a pretty fitting day.”