GIBSON CITY -- For the second time in less than a week, Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley football is sending an athlete to the Division I ranks.
Falcons senior Ben Freehill on Monday night verbally committed to Oklahoma State, with the kicker accepting a preferred walk-on offer from the Cowboys.
"I'm really excited," Freehill said. "I love everything about (the school). It's a place that I don't think I could pass up, honestly."
The 6-foot, 170-pound athlete also possessed offers from Western Illinois and Illinois State, but he decided to join the Cowboys after visiting the Stillwater-based campus last weekend.
Freehill follows teammate Bryce Barnes, who last Friday night accepted a walk-on offer of his own, this one from the University of Illinois.
Freehill said coach Mike Gundy's staff offered to him about two weeks ago, after opening contact less than two months prior. Freehill's trip to meet with team members sealed the deal.
"They were looking at me and one other kid," Freehill said. "It was just a dream come true. All the hard work I've put in, I'm starting to see it pay off."
Freehill handled kickoffs, punts, extra points and field goals for GCMS each of the last two campaigns, in which the Falcons won consecutive Class 2A state championships.
In 2018, Freehill converted 79 PATs and five field goals to lead the area in points scored by a kicker, landing him a spot on The News-Gazette's All-Area first team.
Freehill will join 2018 Tuscola graduate Hunter Woodard, an offensive lineman, as a local representative on Oklahoma State's roster. Freehill said that connection, as well as that of redshirt-freshman long snapper Matt Hembrough out of Lisle's Benet Academy, made picking the Cowboys even more appealing.
After finishing high school in Gibson City, Freehill plans to redshirt his first year with Oklahoma State "to let my body develop, get in the weight room, put some weight on and get stronger."
Coaches indicated the door would be open, then, for competition between Freehill and the squad's other kickers.
Regardless of how quickly his career progresses with the Cowboys, Freehill is proud to add his name to the growing list of Division I standouts coming from GCMS football.
"It's awesome to see even guys from small schools and small towns can make an impact at big schools," Freehill said. "It's not just big-city kids."