Entering his senior season, York Suburban lineman Gavin Barclay generated a lot of attention around Pennsylvania as one of the top senior football players to watch in 2016.
Much of that had to do with his hulking 6-foot, 5-inch, 295-pound frame. Players that size are rarities in the York-Adams League. But, he also shined at several college camps last summer, where he caught the eyes of coaches at a number of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) programs that were hoping to earn the commitment of the massive lineman.
In the end, Barclay chose Lafayette College in Easton, signing his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday. He's expecting to play on the offensive line.
"Over the summer, I went to a lot of school camps and just tried to get a feel of what I liked and what I wanted to do," Barclay said. "But, in the end, it all came down to what's the best balance of athletics and education and that was the one."
Barclay received a full scholarship from the FCS Leopards, who play in the Patriot League. He plans to either be a pre-med student or major in another science.
Barclay said the bulk of his recruitment came from FCS-level programs in the Colonial Athletic Association, Patriot League and Ivy League. He did have some preferred walk-on opportunities from FBS-level programs, such as Vanderbilt and Syracuse. Despite turning down the chance to play college football at the sport's highest division, Barclay doesn't believe Lafayette is that far below.
"I don't think it's a significantly lower level," he said. "It's still very competitive football. The Lafayette-vs.-Lehigh game is still an enormous game. I think it's a very reputable league. It's very competitive. It came down to what I thought best fit. ... Like I said, in the end, Lafayette was the most impressive school and I'm very excited for the new coaching staff that's coming through."
The Leopards went just 2-9 overall last season and 1-5 in Patriot League play.
During his time at Suburban, Barclay was a menace on both sides of the ball, helping to lead the Trojans to back-to-back Division II titles by providing strong protection for his quarterbacks and wreaking havoc on the opposition.
Barclay is the second York County football player to accept an offer to play at an FCS school, after York Country Day senior Jordan Ray took a preferred walk-on opportunity from Hampton University two weeks ago. Ray, who plays football for York Tech through the co-op with YCD, led the Y-A League in receiving this past fall.
Barclay also wasn't the only York County lineman to commit to play college football on Wednesday. Spring Grove's Owen Jacobs will continue his athletic career at NCAA Division II Slippery Rock next year. Jacobs was named a Division I Co-Defensive Player of the Year this past season for the Rockets.
Central York's Maurice Green committed to play football at D-II Lock Haven next year, where he will study early childhood education. Northeastern's Jonathen Butler announced that he will continue his football career at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Viriginia.
Hartlaub going to PSU: South Western running back and defensive back Drew Hartlaub announced that he was accepting a preferred walk-on offer from James Franklin and Penn State.
Hartlaub, who suffered a torn ACL in the first game of his junior season in 2015, will compete for a spot at defensive back for the Nittany Lions.
Hartlaub was one of the brightest Division I prospects in the Y-A League following his impressive sophomore campaign, but the torn ACL derailed that. After posting 1,303 all-purpose yards and 14 touchdowns in 2014, his offensive production dropped to 702 total yards and seven scores this past season.
Ten Spring Grove athletes commit: Spring Grove may have been the most active with its college signees on signing day.
Aside from Jacobs, nine other Rockets committed to schools to continue their athletic careers at the next level.
Most notably was Abby Erlemeier, who will play Division I girls' soccer for Richmond in the Atlantic 10.
Two lacrosse players from Spring Grove will stay local to play the sport for York College next year. Tanner Bolton will play for the men's team, while Lauren Grove will compete for the women's team. The others to make their commitments official on Wednesday were: David McClymont, Edinboro University, wheelchair basketball; Brianna Snyder, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, cheerleading; Autumn Lease, Lebanon Valley College, women's volleyball; Dylan Griffiths, Goucher College, men's lacrosse; Abigayle Keating, Wilkes University, swimming; and Jared Barley, Bridgewater College, men's lacrosse.
West York and Eastern York each have three signees: The Bulldogs and Golden Knights each saw three of their athletes sign to schools.
Girls' soccer players Nicole Mountford and Catherine McCarty both committed, with Mountford going to Mount Aloysius and McCarty going to New Jersey Institute of Technology. Luke Hoffman will continue his track and field career at Kutztown University.
At Eastern York, Keegan Corwell, Wyatt Smith and Jimmy Kurnik locked in their commitments, as well.
Smith will continue playing football at West Chester University, while Corwell will continue his football career at Lebanon Valley College. Kurnik, meanwhile, is signed on to play men's lacrosse at Eastern University.
Yokemick decides on Millersville: York Catholic standout quarterback and defensive back Dan Yokemick chose Millersville University as his college destination, where he will continue playing football next year.
Yokemick was named Co-Player of the Year in Division III this past season for the Fighting Irish, along with teammate Jakkar Kinard, while helping lead the program to the District 3 2-A title and state tournament.
Yokemick was one of two York Catholic athletes to sign on Wednesday, with Dillon Hippensteel committed to play baseball at Juniata College.
K-D girls' lacrosse has four sign: The Kennard-Dale girls' lacrosse team, by far the most dominant program in the county, had four of its players sign on to play at the next level and all chose to stay in the state.
The Rams had one player sign on to play Division I, while the other three are going Division II. Emmie Dressel will continue her career at La Salle University, part of the Atlantic 10 Conference. Meanwhile, Gillian Zimmerman will play for Millersville, Renee Gering will compete for Seton Hill and Hannah Dandy will continue her career at Shippensburg.
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at email@example.com