Football teammates sign with Division II schools
     2016-02-12      By Jerry Purvis    news@geringcitizen.com
Jerry Purvis/Gering Citizen Scottsbluff High School football standouts, from left, Brad Johnston, Austin Clarkson and Shane Smith signed to play football at the Division II college level. 
Three members of the Scottsbluff Bearcats football team that posted an impressive 10-2 season in 2015 are taking their skills to the Division II college level.

Classmates, parents, and staff gathered in the high school foyer the afternoon of Feb. 2 to watch as Brad Johnston signed to play running back for the Chadron State College Eagles. In addition to the running back position, Johnston starred as a defensive lineman for the Bearcats.

“The coaches at Chadron were really welcoming,” Johnston said. “I like their attitude about the program and the players really care.”

Austin Clarkson, although he might redshirt his first year, will be on the offensive line for Northwest Missouri State, which won the Division II national football championship in 2015.

“I really like the family atmosphere there,” Clarkson said.
“Going through tough practices will be easier knowing they have such a winning record and what we’re capable of doing. With good competition surrounding me, I’ll always be getting better.”

Clarkson admitted that basketball used to be his favorite sport.
During his sophomore year, he realized he was also good at football after a teammate’s injury put him into a starting position.

“I don’t have to think too much about it,” he said. “I just hit people.”

Teammate Shane Smith is headed to Wayne State, where after a redshirt year, will focus on defense for the Wildcats. “I always wanted to play college football, but I really started focusing on it my junior year,” Smith said. “I think I can help out with my size and strength. I’ll also be working on my speed and quickness.”

Head Football Coach Joe Benson said Smith didn’t get to play a lot until his senior year, but “worked his tail off and loves football.

“I think Wayne State will use him as a nose tackle, and that’s a great spot for him.”

An estimated 25 Scottsbluff seniors, both boys and girls, will be signing to play various college sports next fall.

“All of them are high character kids and that’s what I’m most proud of,” Benson said. “They’ve represented Scottsbluff High School in a professional way. All three of them are winners and we hate to see them go.”

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