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Lake Forest's quarterback Andrew Clifford (10) hands off the ball to Scott Powell (40) on Friday, August 31, 2012 in Highland Park, IL. | Jon Durr~For Sun-Times Media
Andrew Clifford didn’t get his shot until his senior year.
When he did, the Lake Forest quarterback made the most of it, throwing for 2,583 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Now, Clifford is preparing himself for the next level. He has received a scholarship offer from Football Championship Subdivision (Division I-AA) Drake.
“I like it a lot,” Clifford said of Drake, which is located in Des Moines, Iowa. “I like the offense they run. It’s the same offense we run [at Lake Forest].”
Clifford received the offer after a visit in early December. He’s not ready to pull the trigger, keeping his options — which include Dayton, San Diego and Butler — open.
All of those schools compete in the Pioneer League.
“They [Drake] understand I want to see other schools,” Clifford said. “I just want to be able to compare other schools and be confident in the decision I make.”
A 6-foot-4, 190-pound captain, Clifford became the full-time starter for the Scouts this season. He led the school into the Class 6A semifinals, the first time Lake Forest had ever won three playoff games in one postseason.
Playing in a pro-style offense, Clifford was one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the North Suburban Conference. He completed 60.9 percent of his passes. Five Lake Forest wide receivers caught 25 or more balls. His ability to spread the ball around is what interests college coaches.
“We didn’t ask him to just hand the ball off,” Lake Forest coach Chuck Spagnoli said. “We asked him to do more with the ball in his hands. He got better as the season went on.”
A good student who plans to major in business, Clifford said he hopes to have a decision made by the end of January. He plans to visit Dayton and said he hopes to take a trip to San Diego in the coming weeks.
He’s also open to considering offers from other schools.
“Going into the season, I had no offers. The biggest thing is to be patient with it all,” Clifford said. “It’s fun to have schools interested in you. You have to stay persistent.”