by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A seven-year journey is culminating in the start of a lifelong dream for 18-year old Evan Clewes. The Morinville Community High School graduate will depart for the United States in January to start a football scholarship. Clewes has received 11 offers from American schools for full and partial scholarships, and said he is leaning towards playing in Oregon.
Clewes journey began at the age of seven, but the ball had already been in play three years earlier. “I watched it on TV and I thought it would be fun to go play,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to play it since I was a little kid. It was something I thought I could do for fun, so I went to St. Albert, got on a team half way through the season with the Eagles. After that I just kept playing.”
From the Eagles, Clewes went on to play with several other teams in the St. Albert Minor Football Association, ending up in Westlock for two years as left tackle and defensive end.
An Eskimos fan in the CFL and a Broncos fan in the NFL, Clewes admires Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and Michael Oher of the Baltimore Ravens.
Over his own football career, Clewes said the worst injury he has received was a toss up between a bad concussion and ripping the muscle in his shoulder. The worst injury he has given was knocking a player out for a few seconds during a game. “He had to go to the hospital. He had a really bad concussion, I found out later,” Clewes recalled. “I felt really bad.”
Though he feels bad about knocking a player out during a football game, he is not feeling bad at all about knocking scouts out with his football skills – skills that a number of American schools are seeking. Clewes said he was first asked by the University of Alberta and attended a couple of their camps, the first time at the age of 14. The American offers came after a friend was scouted by an American school. “He got scouted, and then the scout from Florida seen me in the game footage,” Clewes said, adding his friend spoke highly of his skills and passed on the contact info to the scout. “The guy called me up and told me to send him my game footage as well. Since I figured I got scouted by him, I talked to other scouts and sent my footage to them. I got scouted by something like 11 teams, not all full scholarships.”
Clewes said he was offered partial scholarships from Alabama, Notre Dame, LSU, Tennessee, Duke University, and several other schools. The football player has narrowed the offers down to the Oregon Ducks, who offered a full scholarship, and the University of Alabama Crimson Tide, who offered a partial scholarship but is his favourite NCAA team. “Even though it’s a partial scholarship, they are still in there but so far it’s pretty much just Oregon,” Clewes said.
He will head to the United States in January and said he is a bit nervous about doing so. “Going into the next season there it’s going to be a lot of eyes on me,” he said. “I grew up here in small town Morinville where football isn’t a big thing. So me going there where football is the biggest thing ever; the crowds are 80,000 people each game. That’s crazy. I’ve never dealt with a crowd that big. I’m going to be nervous. The expectations for me are so high right now because they want to see me just as good as I was in high school and bantam. They want to see that straight into college. They expect to start me next year. There’s a lot of nerves because most times they don’t start rookies.”
Clewes will leave for the States in January and may start school at that time or come back to Morinville until the summer to commence full training.
He is hoping to major in law and is confident his football career will not end with the NCAA. “Give me four years and I’ll be in the NFL,” he said. “That’s how confident I am.”