November 1, 2014

Walderzak to play football at CMU

File photo
Clay Walderzak makes a catch between two Gladwin defenders during the Panthers’ regular-season game against the Flying Gs.
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STANDISH — Clay Walderzak has decided to take the gridiron for the Central Michigan University Chippewas next fall.

Walderzak, a Standish-Sterling senior, verbally committed to CMU last summer, but had also received a scholarship offer from Central’s track and field program, which his older brother Cole is a member of. After weighing the two, Walderzak opted for the full-ride scholarship offered to play football over the 50-percent scholarship floated by the track program.

“All summer and through football season I was 50-50 between track and football,” Walderzak said. “Finally, I decided football was my favorite sport, so I wanted to do that.”

At SSC, the 17-year-old standout served as a tight end, a defensive end, kicker and punter. At CMU, he will focus on the offensive side of the ball and a different special teams position.

“Where they have me is tight end and long snapper,” he said. “They don’t have me on the defensive side of the ball.”

According to Walderzak, the recruiting effort by the Chippewas has lasted the past two years.

“They invited me to camps my junior year, that summer,” he said. “That’s when they started looking at me. Then I went to another camp this past summer, and that’s when they made the offer.”

The college has already given Walderzak a glimpse of what he has to look forward to next year. In early December, Walderzak and other recruits were invited for an official weekend visit. The visit included a dinner with the coaching staff and their families, as well as a campus tour with a host student — a current player.

“We went over academic things and stuff we would need to do,” he said. “We met the strength coach. We saw academic-wise what types of classes we would be taking.”

Signing day for college athletes is in February, and Walderzak said that would be the first step in beginning his college football career, with workouts starting in June.

“After signing day, I’ll finish my year, and then I head down there June 23. That’s when I start,” he said. “I’ll start lifting, getting into their program and I’ll also start taking summer classes, just so I’m into the swing of things when school starts.”

Walderzak said he will likely be redshirted his freshman year, meaning he will not be active for games. He said he plans to use the first year as an opportunity to acquaint himself with the program and college football in general. Walderzak said he knows it will be a big step up, he expects a challenge, especially in the speed of the athletes.

“From what I hear and know, it’s just the pace of the game, and that’s a huge step up from high school to college,” he said.

Until June rolls around, Walderzak said he is just making an effort to enjoy his senior year at SSC and not worry about college football.

“This school year’s been flying by, so I’d just like to enjoy this year,” he said. “I’m nervous and excited, but that happens. It’ll be fun.”

Walderzak is the son of Paul and Monica Walderzak, of Standish.

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