NORMAN — After signing his national letter of intent with Sam Houston State, Norman North's Colton Cline looked back on the primary thing that made it all happen — a torn ACL.
"There have been a lot of good things come out of me hurting my knee," said Cline, who was an All-State offensive lineman after gaining a medical hardship waiver that allowed him to play this season after missing all of last year.
"I got to play with my younger brother (Caleb, also an offensive lineman). I'm a year older (than other true freshmen), which will help get me off to a better start playing in college. And, really, before I hurt my knee, I wasn't being recruited by anybody. After I came back and went to some camps, my name started popping up on the radar."
Granted, it's not often a player considers tearing an ACL a good thing. But the 6-foot-4, 300-pound Cline has nothing but a positive outlook about it. And that's more surprising considering the injury continued to cause him trouble long after he was finished with re-hab.
"He's had a tough time," said Norman North coach Lance Manning. "After he started playing again his knee cap kept dislocating. He had to deal with that until the doctors found a brace that would work for him. But he played through a lot of pain."
He not only played through it well enough to earn a football scholarship, he's still putting his knee to the test everyday as one of the state's top wrestlers. Cline, one of the favorites to win the Class 6A heavyweight title, is 27-3 with 26 pins on the mat. Younger brother Caleb, a junior, is also a standout wrestler at 215 pounds.
"It was real important to me to get the chance to play both sports with my brother," said Cline, who will play in both the All-State game and the Oil Bowl this summer. "I don't think I'll ever have that chance again — unless he comes to Sam Houston State, too. But I think he's going to have more offers than what I had."
As for wrestling in college, Cline is only going to focus on football at Sam Houston State. But he's not completely leaving the sport.
"I might do some coaching while I'm down there," he said. "But my wrestling days will be over after this season. Wrestling isn't too big in Texas, so this is it for me for wrestling."
Posing for photos after the signing ceremony at the Norman North library, Cline gave North linebacker Nick Canavan, who signed with Division I-AA Missouri State Wednesday, a good-natured jab. Canavan missed out on a Division I-A scholarship because of his size (6-foot, 205 pounds) even though his all-around athleticism is among the best in 6A. Speaking to a reporter, Cline nudged Canavan and quipped, 'Yeah, I've got that D-I size.'"
No question about that. Still, as he'll tell you, it may have been an ACL tear that led to his D-I scholarship.