SPRINGFIELD, MO—Stressing his determination to make the most of the opportunity, local high school linebacker John Clifford, 18, proudly confirmed Wednesday that he will be attending Texas A&M after becoming the first member of his family to meet NCAA eligibility requirements for student-athletes. “It was definitely harder knowing that no one in my family had ever done it before, but I never gave up on my dream of someday completing the 16 core course requirements and maintaining at least a 2.0 GPA in order to play college football,” said Clifford, adding that he only understood the full weight of his achievement after seeing the emotional reaction of his father, a former high school basketball player who never had the chance to attend college because his combined 720 SAT score did not meet NCAA standards. “I’m the one going, but it’s an accomplishment that everyone in my life—my older brother, my parents, and especially my high school teachers and administrators—can share together. There’s a lot of pressure, of course, but I just want to prove that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can pass the academic requisites to play at a collegiate-level sports program.” Clifford also expressed his incredible gratitude for the financial aid he received from Texas A&M, noting that his family never could have afforded to pay for four years of college without the $50,000 in illicit payments from the university.