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U.S. colleges vie for football star

Since the start of spring, 14 Division 1 offers have been received by Abbotsford Senior Secondary student Chase Claypool.
Since the start of spring

Fourteen: That’s the number of Division 1 offers 16-year-old Abbotsford Senior Secondary student Chase Claypool has fielded thus far since the start of spring.

Those include top-tier powerhouses like Oregon University, University of Michigan and Mississippi State that play in massive stadiums and nationally televised bowl games.

Last season, Claypool, who’s heading into his senior year, notched more than 1,200 yards receiving with 13 touchdowns, all while playing on both sides of the ball.

While he won’t be playing offence and defence when he steps up to Division 1 play, it shouldn’t matter to Claypool, as he says he isn’t certain on what he enjoys best, hitting or receiving, simply offering: “I’m torn.”

When asked about the strongest part of his game, the silky, surefooted senior doesn’t think long before saying: “Definitely my movement patterns, especially for my height.”

The 6-5, 212-pound wide receiver/outside linebacker said he owes much to his mom and community for the current success he’s having, noting his roots in Falcons community ball under the guidance of coaches Chel and Khul Sanghera of the Valley Community Football League.

A two-sport star who also played for Abby’s senior boys basketball team, Claypool is already a couple inches taller than his self-proclaimed idol – and fellow Abbotsford product and ex-Oregon linebacker – Boseko Lokombo.

Claypool says the path Lokombo — now a B.C. Lion — helped blaze is a route he wouldn’t mind pursuing.

With a little over a dozen teams vying for his talents, Claypool says his scope has narrowed to Lokombo’s alma mater, Oregon, and the University of Washington, both of which he recently visited.

But, he says, his mind is not made up just yet, especially as more schools are likely to extend their interest in the ensuing months.

The recruiting cycle for the class of 2016 is just beginning and Claypool said he spoke to several Oregon players who advised him to take the process slowly, to continue visiting the places he’s interested in, and then decide what’s best.

Claypool and other football stars in Canada and down south have until next February to formally commit to a school. Although student athletes can verbally declare, oral agreements are non-binding. Typically, highly-rated athletes commit within a month of National Signing Day, which is the first Wednesday in February.

Asked about nerves and the pressure of performing south of the border, Claypool just smirks and offers a playful “Nah.” He says he’s just excited and prepared to work hard and take what’s given to him as his football career moves forward.

Claypool and the rest of the Panthers have been practising this month in preparation for the start of the season, which kicks off in September.

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