Clayton Cribb

Clayton Cribb stands alongside U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry during a ceremony recognizing the congressman's service academy nominees. 

DENVER – Clayton Cribb, a recent graduate of North Lincoln High School, will soon be on his way to the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he’ll be a member of the Army Black Knights football program.

“It’s always been a goal of mine to attend West Point,” Cribb said. “The football scholarship is what really locked me into going.”

Cribb’s West Point ambitions stem from a family history of military service, including his father, William, who served as an Army Ranger.

“My dad served in the 1st Ranger Battalion,” he said. “So I’ve always wanted to follow in his footsteps and join the military.”

While Cribb received an offer to join the football program in 2018 and signed his letter of intent in December, he still had to go through the process of earning a Congressional nomination, a requirement for any potential service academy appointee.

He was one of five students from North Carolina’s 10th Congressional District nominated for appointment by U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (other 10th District residents earning appointments were Olivia Belcher, Ruby Hoernlin, Trey Davison and Phoebe Haller).

“Congratulations to Olivia, Clayton, Ruby, Trey and Phoebe on this incredible achievement,” McHenry said in a press release. “They will soon be joining some of the best and brightest in our nation and I am confident that they will be excellent representatives of western North Carolina. I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors and commend them for their commitment to serve our nation.”

A grade point average of 3.5 or higher is required for nomination applicants. Qualifying candidates are then vetted through an interview process conducted by the congressman’s Military Advisory Council.

“During the interview I was asked questions about my past,” Cribb said. “I was also asked about my future at West Point and what my back-up plan would be if I could not attend.”

While a nomination doesn’t guarantee admission, Cribb has been accepted into West Point and will depart for basic training this summer. His workload will only get heavier when the semester starts, as he’ll have to balance football, military training exercises and classwork.

“The advice I’ve been given is just to do the work. Don’t dread it and just grind through it,” Cribb said. “I’ve been told to always be a leader in academics and military activities, so that’s what’s going to be driving me during my time at West Point.”

While making the adjustment to military academy schedules and routines, Cribb will likely be comfortable on the football field, where he thrived as a senior running back at North Lincoln in head coach Nick Bazzle’s triple-option scheme – the same offensive system the Black Knights have run for decades.

At 5-foot-11 and 210 pounds, Cribb was a perfect fit in North’s system, according to Bazzle.

“He’s kind of like a bulldozer,” Bazzle said at the start of North’s football season. “He’s not real shifty, but in our offense we have to have that ‘B back’ is what we call him. He’s the one you build everything around. You’ve got to have that guy, and if you don’t have that guy, the triple is not really as effective as it can be. Cribb’s going to be good at that.”

Cribb improved on a strong junior season by rushing for 1,357 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior, averaging nearly 6 yards per carry.

Cribb’s goal is to become a pilot with a degree in aeronautical engineering. That way, he said, if he doesn’t opt for a lifelong career in the military, he can become a civilian pilot.

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