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DeCoite looks into football future

ERICK STUDENICKA

Nearly two weeks after the conclusion of the football season, Tahoe-Truckee High School senior Dan DeCoite can’t stop thinking of football.

And it’s unlikely that he’ll be able to stop pondering his football future until the first Wednesday in February, when the 6’1″, 215-pound linebacker is expected to sign a letter-of-intent for an athletic scholarship at a major college.

If he does sign a letter-of-intent, it will be the first scholarship for a Wolverine defensive player since Andrew Long received a scholarship to punt for Sacramento State in the mid-80s.

“I have no idea where I’ll go,” DeCoite said. “I’ll start making decisions after trips to some schools.”

The list of schools who have contacted DeCoite about playing football includes a number of NCAA Div. I programs, including Brigham Young University, Colorado, California, Oregon, Nevada and San Diego State. Smaller schools trying to woo DeCoite are Sacramento State, St. Mary’s, Cal-Poly, San Luis Obispo and UC-Davis.

According to NCAA rules, DeCoite can make five recruiting trips to college campuses beginning Dec. 6.

“I’m not even sure where I might visit; I don’t have any official trips set,” DeCoite said.

No matter where DeCoite chooses to play, Wolverine defensive coach Gary Collins, who has been on the Truckee staff since 1981, said DeCoite has the ability to perform well on the collegiate level.

“Dan, by far, has been the best inside linebacker I’ve coached,” Collins said. “He combines speed, strength, size and a good work ethic. Let’s put it this way – he’s better than a lot of players I’ve seen go to UNR.”

DeCoite said the fact he knew college coaches might be watching Truckee’s games improved his play this season.

“Knowing coaches would be watching didn’t really make me nervous; if anything, it made play better,” said DeCoite, who’s likely to be named as the defensive MVP of Division I. “You have to play up to the standards they expect – they look for you to produce.”

Almost as difficult as playing up to college coaches’ expectations was measuring up to the football -rich tradition of his family. DeCoite’s grandfather is Ray Clemens, the former lineman for the Green Bay Packers, his uncle is Mike Clemens, the former fullback for the Oakland Raiders, and his cousin is Sam Clemens, a quarterback for Cal who has a five-year, full-ride football scholarship. (Dan’s dad, Dennis, a Wolverine coach, was also a pretty good player for Humboldt State.)

“Every holiday, the whole family meets on a 70-acre ranch in Sacramento,” DeCoite said. “My mom has eight brothers and sisters, so there are a bunch of little football players running around.”

DeCoite first started playing football at age 11 when he was talked into joining the Pop Warner Junior Midgets by Tito and Joey Martinez.

“My dad said I could play once I got a 4.0 GPA,” DeCoite said. “I got the grades and played, but I wasn’t really a star player and I was just average size.”

DeCoite continued to develop

as a player, however, earning his first After being overlooked by Division I coaches for an all-league nomination in 1996, DeCoite


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