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Cuneo chooses Pacific over So. Oregon

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Cuneo chooses Pacific over So. Oregon

East Union senior Clay Cuneo (center) signed a national letter of intent to play football at Pacific University in Oregon on Tuesday.

Photo contributed/


POSTED May 21, 2014 12:29 a.m.

Clay Cuneo’s mind was made up.

His football path would take him to Southern Oregon, where the East Union standout would have to prove himself in an established program.

However, a last-minute visit by Pacific (Ore.) coach Keith Buckley would force Cuneo to look a little further north.

Enchanted by their academics and the prospects of immediate playing time, Cuneo changed his mind, picking the Boxers over the Raiders.

“(Buckley) was very positive and encouraging. I looked more into and they emerged as a favorite,” Cuneo said. “They have a lot more academically and I thought they’d serve me well as a player. I like the vibe. It reminds me of (the City of Manteca) and East Union.”

Cuneo made it official on Tuesday, signing his national letter of intent during an afternoon ceremony at East Union.

The 6-foot-3 tight, 225-pound tight end will report to school on Aug. 13. He is expected to contend for a starting job in the Boxers’ high-octane offense, which also features former Manteca High running back Robert Ladiges.

Yes, Cuneo can do more than block.

This past fall, with the Lancers committed almost exclusively to the run, Cuneo was asked to create running lanes and provide protection. He had just 13 receptions for 212 yards and one touchdown in two varsity seasons.

Still, his talent didn’t go unrecognized. The coaches made him a second-team all-Valley Oak League selection this past fall for a team that finished 1-9.

With Pacific, Cuneo – a versatile athlete who played four years of basketball and ran two years of track – envisions himself split out wide, utilizing his hands.

The Boxers averaged nearly 250 passing yards per game last fall and set program records for total offense, points scored and scoring average.

“I see myself as more of a receiving tight end,” Cuneo said. “Last year, I built myself into what East Union wanted me to do, so I made myself a blocking tight end.”

Pacific is coming off its first winning season and celebrated its first class of seniors. The Boxers finished 7-3 and nearly doubled their totals wins in their first three years.

“They are one of those up-and-coming programs,” Cuneo said. “They remind me a lot of East Union.”

Football is only half the allure for Cuneo, who carries a 3.67 GPA into graduation.

He wants to pursue a career in physical therapy.

“I’ve played sports my whole life and I’d like to continue that in the work force,” he said. “Anything sports-wise, that’s something I’d want to do.”

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