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March 5, 2013
For Weequahic High School junior linebacker Sidney Gopre, the road to a college football scholarship involved many days on gridiron. Those days came long before Gopre was ever considered a college football prospect.
Gopre's first memory of football came back during his Pop Warner days in Newark, N.J.
"My first year playing was in Newark and then I played in Orange for about four years," Gopre said. "And then I came back to Newark. I was an offensive guy at first, just running around having fun and scoring a couple of touchdowns."
Through the early part of his football career, Gopre wasn't always the most-talked about player.
"I wasn't really always that good. But as I got older, especially in high school, it just came out of nowhere," he said. "It just clicked. I'm not sure why. I've been a hard worker all my life and worked on a lot of techniques. It just came naturally."
Gopre also acknowledged that he did his share of homework off the field.
"I watch a lot of film too so I kind of know most of the plays of the other teams now. I also watch a lot of Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher and a lot of the good linebackers in the NFL."
Gopre came into his own this past season, one in which he racked up 132 tackles, 41 one of which went for a loss. He also helped Weequahic High School to a spot in the Central Group 2 state championship game.
That led to a flurry of interest from numerous colleges as Gopre's junior highlight tape speaks for itself.
"There were a lot of good reactions to my film," Gopre said. "A lot of scouts and coaches hit me up saying my film is exciting and I am exciting to watch."
Rutgers was among the first schools to express an interest in Gopre. He returned the favor yesterday when he offered up a verbal commitment to play college football at Rutgers University.
He made that commitment on the Rutgers campus in the office of head coach Kyle Flood.
"The coaches were very excited. I was excited as well," Gopre said. "I was kind of nervous sitting in the head coach's office, but he's a great guy."
Having spent his whole life in New Jersey, location played a factor when it came to making a college decision.
"It definitely was important for me to stay close to home," Gopre said. "Now, my family can come watch me play."
Had Gopre remained on the open market, it's very likely that plenty of schools would have come calling with more scholarship offers. However, accumulating a lengthy list of offers didn't seem to be a priority.
"It was something I thought about but it wasn't really important to me," Gopre said. "Rutgers is where I see myself really playing and learning more education-wise. I like the support system they have for the student athletes as well. I'm just real excited."