Chicago line­man sur­prised by of­fer

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - THE SECOND PAGE - rdav­en­port@arkansason­line.com

A year ago, de­fen­sive line­man Gavin McCabe was de­ter­mined to earn a schol­ar­ship of­fer from a mid-ma­jor col­lege foot­ball pro­gram. Be­cause of his hard work, he’s sur­passed that goal and now has 22 of­fers, in­clud­ing from four Power Five con­fer­ences.

The Univer­sity of Arkansas at Fayet­teville be­came his first SEC of­fer last Wed­nes­day.

“It was crazy,” McCabe said. “I couldn’t even be­lieve it, hav­ing an SEC team of­fer me a schol­ar­ship. It’s un­be­liev­able.”

McCabe, 6-3, 255 pounds, of Chicago Marist High School, also has of­fers from Rut­gers, Bos­ton Col­lege, Iowa State, Pur­due, Kansas, Syra­cuse, In­di­ana and oth­ers. He con­tacted Ra­zor­backs of­fen­sive line coach Kurt An­der­son on Twitter last Tues­day.

“I sent him my film, and he ac­tu­ally re­sponded right away,” McCabe said. “He ac­tu­ally had seen my film, which was sur­pris­ing for me. He said he saw the film and showed it to the other coaches and they liked it a lot and they were go­ing to give it to the head coach.”

The fol­low­ing day, An­der­son di­rect-mes­saged him on Twitter.

“He said he wanted me to call him,” McCabe said. “We talked for a lit­tle bit, and he said they were of­fer­ing me.”

To achieve his dream of play­ing col­lege foot­ball, McCabe was a reg­u­lar in the weight room and has added about 35 pounds since his fresh­man sea­son.

“I worked out five times a week — twice a day some­times — in try­ing to get big­ger, stronger and faster,” said McCabe, whose per­sonal best in the squat and the dead lift is 500 pounds. “This year, I worked a lot on my tech­nique and stuff and dif­fer­ent pass moves and get­ting off blocks and tack­ling.”

“A lot of work went into this. My dream was to play col­lege foot­ball. It’s kind of sur­real right now.”

He said he was think­ing he might get some of­fers about now, but was caught off guard when Iowa State be­came his first of­fer af­ter the third week of last sea­son.

“I was think­ing of hav­ing a great sea­son and then hav­ing a great ju­nior off­sea­son and hop­ing schools might start talk­ing to me around Fe­bru­ary or right now,” McCabe said.

McCabe, who recorded 68 tack­les and 9 ½ sacks as a ju­nior, is well liked by CBS Sports Network na­tional re­cruit­ing an­a­lyst Tom Lem­ming, who’s en­ter­ing his 38th year cov­er­ing the na­tional scene.

“Gavin is strong, fast and an ag­gres­sive de­fen­sive line­man,” Lem­ming said. “He’s a three-star plus prospect.”

An­der­son, a Chicago na­tive, is good friends with Marist Coach Pat Dunne.

“They knew each other be­fore foot­ball,” McCabe said. “[Dunne] thinks re­ally high of Coach An­der­son.”

Schools are telling McCabe he could play de­fen­sive end or tackle. The Hogs like him at end.

“He [An­der­son] said right now they see me as an out­side,” he said.

A visit to Fayet­teville is in the works.

“I would be stupid to pass up an op­por­tu­nity to visit a school like that,” McCabe said. “That’s for sure some­thing I want to do for spring break or be­fore sum­mer starts.”

Not be­ing fa­mil­iar with Arkansas, he and his par­ents brushed up.

“My par­ents and I sat down at the com­puter and started look­ing at dif­fer­ent stuff,” he said. “We looked at the dif­fer­ent ma­jors and how big the school was and what they of­fer.”

McCabe has a 4.20 grade-point av­er­age and is con­sid­er­ing ma­jor­ing in busi­ness. He no­ticed the Sam M. Wal­ton Col­lege of Busi­ness is among the best in the na­tion.

“I’ve been do­ing a lot of re­search, and it’s one of the best,” McCabe said. “It’s awe­some.”

UN­STOP­PABLE?

El Do­rado power for­ward Daniel Gaf­ford, who has signed to play basketball at Arkansas, topped 10 points and 10 re­bounds in a game for the 27th time in 30 games this sea­son when he had 34 points, 26 re­bounds and 8 blocked shots in a 91-78 vic­tory over Texarkana to the fi­nal of the 6A-West Con­fer­ence Tour­na­ment on Satur­day night.

Prior to Satur­day’s game, Gaf­ford, 6-11, 220, ranked 11th na­tion­ally in dou­ble-dou­bles by maxpreps. com, 10th in re­bounds per game and fourth in blocks per game.

Be­fore Satur­day’s game, he was av­er­ag­ing 17.1 points, 15.9 re­bounds, 7.7 blocks, 1.4 as­sists and 2.6 steals per game.

E-mail Richard Daven­port at

RICHARD DAVEN­PORT

McCabe

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