Preps

Wednesday, Apr 24 2013 10:35 PM

BCHS grad Clanton sets sights on NFL

BY ZACH EWING Californian staff writer zewing@bakersfield.com

It's all over but the waiting for Bakersfield Christian graduate Ryan Clanton.

Clanton, a starting guard for Oregon last season, won't be picked in the first round of the NFL Draft today, and he likely won't be picked in the second or third rounds Friday.

In fact, Clanton might not get picked at all -- the draft concludes its seventh and final round Saturday -- but he's hoping he'll end up on an NFL roster at least as an undrafted free agent.

"It doesn't matter to me; either way, I'm just excited to have a chance," said Clanton, who's in Bakersfield training -- and waiting.

Clanton, a 6-foot-5, 310-pound lineman who has played guard and tackle and said he also worked out at center during Oregon's practices, said about 15 NFL teams have contacted him to say they're interested in him as a potential late-round pick. He wasn't invited to the NFL Combine in February in Indianapolis, but he made his statement to teams at Oregon's pro day in March.

Clanton made 42 bench-press reps of 225 pounds -- the highest at the combine was 38, and no offensive lineman got past 36.

He also ran a 5.0-second 40-yard dash, which ranks in the top 10 for linemen in this year's draft class.

"Most guys have a tradeoff -- they're strong but they're slow, or they're fast and not that strong," Clanton said. "But I just wanted to prove to scouts that I could be lean and powerful at the same time."

Suddenly, Fresno State safety and Bakersfield High graduate Phillip Thomas -- who is projected by several services to go in the third round -- wasn't the only Kern County product who could get selected this weekend.

For Clanton, who didn't play football until his junior year, came from a small school, made a stop at City College of San Francisco and has battled various injuries, that's an exciting possibility.

"You never know what could happen, but I believe in myself, and I think my preperation will pay off," Clanton said. "If I get drafted or if a team just picks me up (as a free agent), I'll be just as excited as if I was the first overall pick. I'm grateful to be in this situation."

Ferguson apparent PSU starter

Tyler Ferguson's path to the starting quarterback job at Penn State just became a lot more clear.

The school announced Wednesday that sophomore QB Steven Bench, Ferguson's main competition for the job, will transfer, making Ferguson the starter heading into fall camp.

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien said after the Nittany Lions' spring game that Ferguson and Bench were neck-and-neck to start, but ESPN's NittanyNation blog reported that Bench was told privately that he fallen to No. 2 on the depth chart behind Ferguson.

Ferguson (6-5, 210) graduated from Ridgeview in 2012 and spent the past season as the starter at College of the Sequoias, where he set single-season school records for completions and passing yards.

Hammond first four-timer

Bakersfield High senior Coleman Hammond became the first four-time All-American wrestler in California history earlier this month when he placed fourth at Senior Nationals in Virginia Beach, Va.

For the accomplishment, Hammond was named State Wrestler of the Week by The California Wrestler.

Hammond, who won Freshman and Sophomore national championships and was third in Junior Nationals, will attend Cal State Bakersfield. His older brother, Bryce, won a Pac-12 title for the Roadrunners at 174 pounds and was named the conference's Co-Newcomer of the Year.

Spring signings get going

Four local student-athletes are the first to sign letters of intent in the NCAA's extensive spring signing period:

* Garces senior John Sampson, who will play water polo for Fresno Pacific.

* Shafter athlete Carly Preston, who signed a rowing scholarship to Sacramento State. Preston played basketball and ran cross country and track for the Generals.

* Bakersfield senior Cesar Luevano, a soccer goalkeeper who will play for Waldorf College, an NAIA school in Forest City, Iowa.

* South High senior Ryan Reagor, who received a full-ride scholarship to play basketball for Highland (Kan.) Community College in Highland. Reagor was a second-team All-Area selection.

Military baseball game Friday

Centennial's baseball team will host its fifth annual Military Appreciation Game at 3:30 p.m. Friday against Independence.

Admission is free, with free food and information and support services available to all veterans and active military personnel. For more information, call (661) 706-3181 or email militarygame@yahoo.com.

Liberty seeks XC coach

Liberty is hiring a boys and girls cross country coach. If interested, contact athletic director Tim Davis at (661) 587-0925 or via email at tim_davis@kernhigh.org.

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