One person has had a big influence on the football career of Truman senior Aaron Porter – a person who is well known in the high school football community in Independence.

That would be former William Chrisman football coach Norman James.

James, the namesake of William Chrisman’s field, helped Porter get started in football. Porter played Pop Warner football in first and second grade, but because he exceeded the weight limit for the league, he didn’t play again until he was in middle school.

“I fell in love with football again when I was in middle school and had a passion for it,” Porter said. “I have always been one of the biggest kids in my class. I don’t know where I got that gene from.”

James was a big reason for Porter reviving his interest in the sport after multi-year hiatus.

“He was huge (in my career). I would listen to his stories when he was coach,” Porter said. “I was in awe of it – how things worked back then. It just stuck with me.”

Now partly thanks to his grandfather, Porter has a future in football beyond high school. Last Saturday, Porter announced on Twitter that he has verbally committed to play at Ball State University, an NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision program in Muncie, Indiana.

Porter also had an offer from Division II power Northwest Missouri State, but said he felt good about his visit to Ball State, which sold him on playing there.

“The visit felt like home,” Porter said. “I felt like I had a good connection with the coaches. It just felt right. It was my dream to play Division I football since I was in middle school.”

That dream should come true in 2020, but he still has one year left with the Patriots. The 6-foot-5, 300-pound offensive lineman is a two-time all-Class 5 District 7 and all-Suburban Large Seven Conference selection.

Patriots head coach Charlie Pugh touted Porter’s commitment to the program and his academic accomplishments.

“Aaron is a good guy for our program period,” Pugh said. “He has a 100 percent attendance in the weight room, he has a 3.92 (grade point average) and he just does everything the right way to his fullest capability.

“He’s just a kid that does anything you ask him to do. Plenty of coaches come through and speak to him and talk to him. Anywhere he would have went, we would have been proud.”

For his senior year, Porter will be moving from right guard, his preferred and best position, to center for Truman. So far, he and Pugh said the transition has gone well.

“It’s new. I have never really snapped the ball before,” he said. “It helps my team out and I am getting the hang of it.”

Added Pugh: “He’s handled it well. He’s still working on it. He’s probably a better guard, but he gets the ball back there so fast, our quarterbacks don’t know it’s coming back so fast.”

After his team finished 0-10 last year, Porter is looking to help his team improve from that mark. If he were to get his first all-state honor, it would just be a bonus.

“I am not necessarily worried about accolades, I just want to do the best I can,” Porter said.

Pugh said he thinks Porter has a good chance of being an all-state player.

“He has the possibility to do it,” Pugh said. “Unfortunately for him, there’s a lot of good linemen in the city and we play a tough schedule. But he will stand out on that field. Hopefully people recognize it.”