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‘It was True to My Heart’: Humbling Experience Leads to Top 3 for Climes

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Elizabeth forward defensive lineman Christopher Climes

Playing college football was not necessarily in the cards for Christopher Climes when he moved from a small independent Brownsville program to Elizabeth Forward after his freshman season.

Two years and 34 offers later, Climes knew there was only one way to go about narrowing his list down to three schools.

“I called every coach,” Climes told Pittsburgh Sports Now. “I made 31 phone calls this past week talking to all the coaches that offered me saying, ‘Good luck on your season and thank you for recruiting me.”

With an offer sheet that immense, not many high school recruits would have taken the time to dial every coach’s phone number, but Climes felt it was only right.

“It was true to my heart to give all the coaches one last goodbye because coming from a small school in Brownsville, Pa. to moving to Elizabeth Forward, I didn’t really think I was going to get recruited, so for a coach to even take a chance on me was special,” Climes said.

The 6-foot-2, 270-pound defensive tackle cut his steep list of suitors down to three finalists on Sunday: James Madison, Buffalo and East Carolina.

Climes, who recorded 45 total tackles, 27 tackles for loss and 18 sacks during his junior season, took official visits to all three programs in June to help give him an idea of where he may call home.

Most recently, the three-star prospect visited James Madison, where he reconnected with a Pittsburgh native, who was one of the first coaches to show interest in Climes.

“The reason James Madison is so special is coach [Anthony] DiMichele was at Holy Cross and is from Pittsburgh. Even in my sophomore year, he was recruiting me at Holy Cross, so he’s been recruiting me for about 16 months now. I can’t say enough about him,” Climes said.

James Madison has been one of the most successful programs at the Division I level in recent years, and even with major turnover in the coaching staff, the Dukes continue to prioritize football.

“Very high-ended program. They’re putting a lot of their athletic funds into the football program. It’s been a winning program forever, but they are really putting in the work for new technology for a weight room, building new buildings for student-athletes,” Climes noticed on his visit.

Before his trip to Harrisonburg, Va., Climes made an official visit to Buffalo. During his time visiting the Bulls, he had the chance to further his relationship with another coach who has recruited him for quite some time.

“Coach [Joe] Bowen was at Miami (Oh.) and he offered me – it was my second offer. I’ve been his No. 1 recruit for the past eight months. When he flipped to go to Buffalo, I was the first person he called to give a scholarship to,” Climes said.

Climes has visited Buffalo multiple times, but his official visit allowed him to see a different side of the school.

“During the other visits, I got to know the whole football side of things. During the official, I got to know what it was like to be a student-athlete at Buffalo, so getting to know where all the buildings are for schooling and knowing where I’d be staying as a freshman.”

Relationships have been important for Climes with James Madison and Buffalo and that can also be said for East Carolina.

“When we were still in school, coach [Roy] Tesh, their d-line coach, drove all the way from East Carolina, which is about 13 hours away. He gave an amazing conversation, and I was really intrigued, so I was like, ‘Why not go down there,” Climes said.

East Carolina kicked off Climes’ official visit schedule from June 6-8.

“Greenville is in a little town, so everybody comes to the football games. There’s around 51,000 on average that come to the football games. They showed me all the incredible facilities and how tight-knit the college really it is. It was a great experience.”

Through all the offers, visits and camps, Climes has relied on his parents for all their support.

“My parents have sacrificed a lot of things to take me around, which I couldn’t be more grateful for.”

His uncle, Justin Dellarose, has also been an influential piece in this process.

“My uncle played at Youngstown State in the early ’90s, so he knows about the whole football recruiting process. He really helped me with what to look for in a school. I take all my thoughts into the process from his advice,” Climes said.

With the help from his support system, Climes will weigh what each school has to offer before deciding in early-July.

“I’m going to be checking the boxes of all the universities. They are all great coaches, great people. I really have to sit down with my family and chose what’s best.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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