Three of Mission’s top high school football players have nailed down university scholarships.
Evan Horton and Arjun Bhogal of the Mission Secondary Roadrunners have committed to join the UBC Thunderbirds, while their high school teammate Matt Clarkson is ticketed for the Manitoba Bisons.
Horton is best known for his exploits on offence – he was the AA provincial player of the year last season after leading all quarterbacks in rush yards with 1,116, and throwing for an additional 1,065 yards.
His university future, though, will be as a linebacker, and he said he’s looking forward to making a full-time transition to defence at UBC.
“It’s going to be nice not to be so tired,” he said with a chuckle. “When you’re on the field all the time, sometimes it even gets hard to think out there. It’s going to be really nice to focus on defence.”
Bhogal missed the bulk of his senior season due to a knee injury – he tore his MCL and sprained his ACL during a September game vs. the W.J. Mouat Hawks. But the UBC coaching staff had seen enough of the defensive lineman during his Grade 11 year, when he earned an Eastern Conference all-star nod.
“It was a scary moment for me,” Bhogal said, reflecting on the injury. “I knew I wouldn’t be playing for the rest of the year.
“But I was really, really happy that I got recognized (by UBC), even though I didn’t play this year.”
UBC head coach Shawn Olson expressed excitement at adding Horton and Bhogal.
“(Horton) has very good athleticism and is extremely intelligent, but the most impressive thing about Evan is how competitive he is and how he is willing to put everything he has on the line for his team,” Olson said. “I feel that he has a very rare combinations of attributes and will be an outstanding Thunderbird for years to come.
“(Bhogal) was one of our top DT (defensive tackle prospects) heading into his senior season, but before we really got a chance to evaluate his progression he injured his knee. But over the course of the recruiting process I got to know the type of young man he is and what type of potential he has as a football player. With some added weight and consistent work in the gym, I expect he will be a dominant force in the interior of our defence.”
Clarkson, an offensive lineman, comes by his talent honestly – his father Larry played offensive tackle for the B.C. Lions, and older brother Tom (a 2012 Mission Secondary grad) landed a scholarship from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
“He’s always been supportive,” Clarkson said, reflecting on his dad’s influence on his athletic career. “Having him there, not forcing me to do anything but helping me when I needed it, was huge. I wouldn’t be here without him.”
Clarkson considered following his classmates to UBC, but ultimately elected to sign with Manitoba because he’s a big fan of Bisons coach Brian Dobie.
Dobie, for his part, said Clarkson fits a “tremendous need” for his program, as two of the Bisons’ veteran offensive tackles will graduate after the 2014 season.
“We have liked Matt from the get-go,” Dobie said. “Not only does his size and athleticism fit our needs, but it is very obvious that he has been extremely well-coached, and is technically much further ahead of the curve than most high school tackles around the country.”