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January 22, 2012
But it may have thrilled its fan base even more when it landed a player with the biggest name in school history: McCartney.
Derek McCartney, the grandson of legendary Colorado coach Bill McCartney, announced he will accept a grayshirt offer to attend the school - which means he will officially become a scholarship athlete in January.
For McCartney, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound defensive end from Arvada (Colo.) Faith Christian, family ties to Colorado run deep. His father, Shannon Clavelle, played for Bill McCartney during the early 90s.
"All my uncles and my mom were raised in a football home, a CU home, so I have been a fan of the team since I was born and not just the football team, also basketball," McCartney said.
Bill McCartney was head coach at the school from 1982-1994, going 93-55-5 while winning three consecutive Big Eight Conference titles in 1989-1991. His 1990 squad was the best, crowned national champions by the Associated Press after an 11-1-1 season. It was one of three top-five finishes the school had under him.
The younger McCartney grew up cheering for Colorado and knows all about its football history. He learned more about the other aspects of the school when he took his official visit last weekend.
"I got to learn a lot about the academic side of CU this weekend," McCartney said. "[Sophomore defensive end] Juda Parker was my player host and he is really cool. I got to see what it would be like to be a student-athlete there and I liked the school as a whole. It just seemed like a good situation for me."
A pretty good situation for the program, which is in its second season under Jon Embree.
"I committed and Coach Embree was happy, he was smiling," McCartney said. "They said they feel like I can be a nice defensive end for them."
McCartney said waiting until January to begin with the football program will help him.
"It would have been cool to come in this fall, but it is probably a better situation for me to come in later," he said. "I will have time to take a couple classes before starting full time and I can get bigger. I just need to follow the weight program that I get from the coaches. My goal is to get up to around 235, 240 pounds."
McCartney earned first-team all-state honors as a senior after he recorded 60 tackles and a Flatirons League-high 16 quarterback sacks.
He also is a standout on the basketball court, averaging 9.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for the No. 1-ranked 3A basketball team in the state. He plans to throw the shot put and discus for Faith Christian this spring.
He points to his family genes for his success.
"God blessed me with a strong body and good athleticism," McCartney said. "I will work hard to get bigger, faster, stronger and the rest will come with experience."