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story.lead_photo.caption Helias tight end Damon Johanns makes a catch during a game last season against Borgia at Ray Hentges Stadium. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / News Tribune.

It didn't take long to say yes.

"I was sold as soon as they told me they were offering," Helias senior Damon Johanns said Wednesday morning as he signed as a preferred walk-on to play football at the University of Missouri during a ceremony in the school library.

"It's a dream come true. It's a great opportunity."

Johanns was a Class 4 first-team all-state selection at tight end this season for the Class 4 state champion Crusaders. He finished with 29 catches for 506 yards and eight touchdowns this season.

"Throughout this process, I could tell where Damon's heart was, he wanted to give this a shot," Helias coach Chris Hentges said. "We appreciate all the offers and the attention he got from the schools that were recruiting him, but he wanted to follow his dream and give Division I football a shot."

Johanns received multiple scholarship offers from MIAA schools and he visited Central Missouri and Washburn. But he had already been accepted as a student at Missouri and was prepared to step away from football.

"I was just going to be a student at Mizzou and not play," Johanns said. "Maybe some intramural stuff. Mizzou was my only interest."

In December, Hentges sent Johanns' senior tape to the Missouri coaching staff to gauge their interest. Missouri got back to Johanns with the perferred walk-on offer last week.

"They were impressed and they said they thought Damon could help them and they would love to have him as a preferred walk-on," Hentges said. "That's all Damon needed to hear and he jumped at the opportunity.

"He has a good skill set and I think there's a lot he can bring to Missouri to help in the SEC."

Johanns has always been a Missouri fan, attending his first Tiger game in 2007.

"When they came in late with their preferred walk-on offer, it meant a lot to me," he said. "Missouri has always been my dream home."

The Tigers finished 5-5 last season under first-year head coach Eli Drinkwitz.

"I like the culture they are building with their players, I think it's going to be big-time," Johanns said.

Johanns will start school in July and join the football program to start preseason workouts.

"I'll be a part of the program as much as anyone else," Johanns said. "I'm going to have to work hard every day and commit to it.

"It's going to be a grind, hopefully I can earn my stripes."

Johanns will major in personal finance at Missouri.

Johanns is the second Helias graduate in as many years to sign as a preferred walk-on at an SEC school. Vito Calvaruso totaled 48 kickoffs last fall as a freshman at Arkansas, 33 for touchbacks.

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