Since the end of last summer, Lynden football coach Curt Kramme has repeatedly declared that any college program that took a chance on Lions senior Josh Kraght would feel very fortunate to do so.
Turns out, it is Kraght who is left feeling good about his choice, as he committed to play quarterback for Portland State.
"I made my official visit last weekend," Kraght said in a phone interview. "Saturday night, I decided to commit there to a full scholarship. I loved it down there. The coach staff is what really sold me on going there. They wanted me there. They showed a lot of integrity and honesty. They're about school first. They want good people and good students first - good athletes second."
Kraght certainly fits that requirement.
There's no doubting Kraght's athletic ability after all that he has accomplished as a three-sport athlete for the Lions, and he's been just as outstanding away from sports.
"Josh is an incredibly special athlete and very special person," Kramme said the Class 2A state championship game in December. "He has meant so much to this program on the field over the past three years, but, as I've said before, the thing I'm going to remember about him is what a great kid he is off it."
Though Kraght said he had discussions with Humboldt State, Western Oregon and Montana State, he said it was the off-field intangibles that led him to Portland State.
"I always appreciated how honest they were with me throughout the process," Kraght said. "I saw them through the whole process of recruiting. The never lied to me or said they do something and end up doing something else. They never deceived me. That and the first thing they wanted to talk to me about was academics."
Kraght said he's considering majoring in business management at the school.
The Vikings are a NCAA Division I FCS program that plays in the Big Sky Conference. They went 3-8 last year, but lost by only a touchdown in their season finale to Eastern Washington, which advanced to FCS quarterfinals.
Kraght's decision means that the Lions' talented senior class has produced three Division I football scholarships this year, as offensive lineman Matt Meyer has committed to Washington State and defensive lineman/linebacker Caleb Newman to Army. Receiver Zach Vis is expected to make his decision this weekend, meaning the Lions are likely to have four D-I signings on National Letter of Intent Day on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
"I think it's a testament to our coaches, the programs here and all the hard work the guys put in," Kraght said. "It's cool to see the results, having that many guys moving on to the next level."
While few Lynden fans who saw Kraght post a 37-2 record as Lynden's primary starting quarterback the past three seasons had any doubts about Kraght's physical abilities, Kraght was not recruited by the traditional college powers, in part because Kraght is not a prototypical quarterback at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds.
But the Vikings looked past that and to what Kraght could potentially bring to their balanced, pistol-formation, read-option offense.
"It's very similar to the offense we ran at Lynden," Kraght said. "I'm sure it's more complicated, and there is going to be a learning curve, but it will be nice to have some familiarity. I think that style fits my abilities very well."
There is no disputing that.
Last year Kraght, who also played cornerback for Lynden, passed for 2,740 yards and 32 touchdowns and rushed for 894 yards and 16 TDs in leading the Lions to their second straight 2A state title. During his three years with the varsity team, he amassed 6,313 yards and 76 touchdowns passing, 2,380 yards and 47 TDs rushing and three straight All-Northwest Conference Player of the Year awards.
Kraght, who also plays point guard on the defending state champion boys' basketball team at Lynden and catcher on the Lions' defending runner-up baseball team, said the Vikings had a true freshman start for them at quarterback last year, as well as another freshman that red shirted last fall and a sophomore quarterback on the roster.
"They told me they'd give me a chance to compete from the beginning," Kraght said. "I'm really happy that I'll get that chance to compete. ... I'm excited somebody gave me a chance to keep playing."
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.