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Massena Matt Whitcomb recruited to play college football at West Point

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MASSENA - A football dream has come true for Massena’s Matthew Whitcomb.

On January 21st, the 6’6”, 285-pound lineman was contacted by Army head coach Rich Ellerson and offered a spot on the Black Knights’ football team.

After speaking further with coaches and touring Michie Stadium and the Kimsey Athletic Center, he couldn’t stop smiling in accepting the offer.

“After experiencing the recruiting rollercoaster, I asked Coach to tell me the news again because I couldn’t believe it,” recalled Whitcomb, who is among just a handful of recruits to come from New York State.

According to Rivals.com, out of 38,000 football players in New York, only 29 signed Division 1A offers in 2011.

Today is the first day Division 1A college football recruits can officially commit to a college and Whitcomb planned to fax his signed letter of intent to the Army football staff this morning.

Exposure and motivation have been two of the main reasons Whitcomb has been afforded the opportunity to make his dream a reality.

As a freshman at Massena Central where he competed on the junior varsity football, basketball and lacrosse teams, Whitcomb attended a summer Notre Dame camp where coach Brian Polian looked at him and said, “If you keep working, you could go somewhere.”

For two years, Whitcomb played in the Cornwall Ontario spring league and also worked with certified trainer Jeff Gibbs from Cornwall.

“Matthew persevered as a leader on the field and in the weight room,” assistant JV football coach Ed Letham recalled. “He did not lose sight of his goals and is a good example of hard work paying off.”.

His sophomore year at Massena, Whitcomb was recruited by several prep schools and was selected as a Phelps’ Scholar Athlete at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, Matthew adjusted to the speed and intensity of academic and athletic rigor. He enjoyed Exeter’s diverse camaraderie and loved playing in front of 7,000 Exeter-Andover football fans.

As a senior co-captain, Exeter football teammates described Whitcomb as “a man of few words who leads by example.”

“He’s determined, tough, and intimidating. Matt is a very strong offensive lineman and his future in football is very bright,” Exeter coach Bill Glennon said.

During his 2011-12 season, Whitcomb had multiple Division 1 AA football offers including several from the Ivy league. Whitcomb was honest about his West Point priority and let the offers fall off the table. When he did not receive an appointment, the University at Buffalo was Matthew’s backup plan.

Currently a University at Buffalo freshman who is majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in Russian, Whitcomb reapplied to West Point. He was invited to walk on as a UB football recruit, but Matthew opted to save four years of eligibility.

“Leaving Massena was an adjustment. I missed playing for the home town crowd,” noted. “To strengthen my academy file, my priority was to study to secure my 3.53 cum and to work hard as an ROTC cadet,” Whitcomb said. “Early morning physical training and boxing sessions keep me in shape.”

When Whitcomb received an invitation to the 2012 Army Navy game, he felt a glimmer of hope.

“Coach Tripp has been honest about my placement on Army’s recruiting board over the last two years. I told him I have done all I can do to prove my commitment. Now that I have this Army football opportunity, I will work even harder to prove my value as an offensive guard so that I can represent the North Country,” Whitcomb noted. “Doubt is one of the most powerful forces that can make change. I have become stronger as a result of each encounter with doubt.”

Whitcomb appreciates all who have supported him.

“I am honored to receive academy nominations from Congressman Owens, Senator Gillibrand, and Colonel Dewind, my ROTC commander. I am thankful for my family’s continual support,” he stated. “

“I am also grateful to my coaches and teachers, Jeff Gibbs, and our long time family friends. I am especially grateful to Anto and coach Jeff Almasian; we have played and trained together from Pop Warner through high school. Anto and I always said we would play D1 ball someday, and now it has come true for both of us,” he concluded.

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