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Clarion looks to be next step for Freeport's McKillop

| Saturday, April 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Freeport's Shane McKillop attacks a teammate during football practice at Freeport High School on Tuesday August 14, 2012. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch
Freeport High School football player Shane McKillop on Wednesday August 15, 2012. Erica Hilliard | Valley News Dispatch

After enjoying success at Freeport High School, standout offensive lineman Shane McKillop has decided to continue his football career at Division II Clarion University.

The big kid is glad his big decision is made.

A towering 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds, McKillop said he found contentment at Clarion.

“After touring a bunch of different schools, I was basing my decision off of being comfortable up at the campus and how I felt with the coaching staff,” McKillop said.

“I went to Clarion and walked around the campus and I fell in love with it. It clicked, I loved the coaching staff.”

According to McKillop, Lock Haven, Waynesburg, Allegheny, Edinboro and Slippery Rock were among the other interested schools.

Clarion coach Jay Foster, who will enter his ninth year with the Golden Eagles, was impressed with McKillop's roster specs coming out high school.

“For us, we don't get an opportunity for a kid with that kind of size,” Foster said.

“He's got Division-I size. For us, it's all projecting, if he can improve like we think he can. But to have a kid that big and be able to work with that frame to start off is huge for us.”

Foster said McKillop is most likely going to redshirt his freshman year.

The recruiting process got to be a bit tedious and overwhelming at times for McKillop.

“At first, it was pretty exciting,” he said. “Toward the middle, when you had schools coming in, it was hard to keep track of who was coming from where and who was talking to you and when to call others back.

“Toward the end, I kind of wanted it to be over. Overall, it was a good experience.”

McKillop was the anchor on an offensive line that saw Freeport finish 7-3 overall and share the Allegheny Conference title with Burrell.

Replacing McKillop will be a tall task for Freeport coach John Gaillot.

“Shane is a great student-athlete and the size, that's usually once in a lifetime in your coaching year where you get someone as big as that,” Gaillot said.

“We have a lot of freshmen, sophomores and juniors coming up that aren't Shane's size, but there are at least 14 kids competing for positions there. I'm really optimistic.”

The football pedigree runs in the McKillop family. Shane is the cousin of former Kiski Area and Pitt standout linebackers Scott and Chris McKillop.

Scott was a fifth-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers in 2009 and also had a stint with the Buffalo Bills.

Clarion football will open its regular season Sept. 14 against Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference foe Lock Haven at home.

D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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