Childhood fantasy became reality for Abbotsford Senior Secondary Grade 12 student Taylor Mante on Wednesday.
In front of his family, friends and coaches, the Panthers football star signed on the dotted line with Oklahoma Baptist University.
Mante hopes to become a pillar on the OBU Bisons defensive line for the next four years, and said inking the deal was a thrill.
“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “I’ve been wanting this since I was like seven years old. I remember last year when Chase [Claypool] signed with Notre Dame and I thought that’s going to be me next year.”
The signing caps off a spectacular Grade 12 student for Mante, who was named a AAA Provincial all-star at his position.
He said he felt comfortable almost immediately after touching down in Oklahoma.
“I really loved the atmosphere there,” he said. “Right when I got picked up I could feel the love from my d-line coach Herman Smith, and I could feel how much they wanted me and how much they were willing to do to have me there.”
The Bisons, who play in NCAA Division II, finished 2016 with a record of two wins and nine losses. Mante said he thinks the Bisons have a bright future.
“I think they’re going to have a great football program in a few years, and academically it’s a great school,” he said.
Mante grew up playing for the Abbotsford Falcons youth football teams, and then played junior high football in Manitoba before returning to Abbotsford for his Grade 11 year.
He said he got offers from several Canadian universities and other Division II American schools, but felt Oklahoma was the right fit. Mante heads down south later this year for the Bisons summer camp.
The week was made even more special for Mante when his best friend Dawson Davis also secured a post-secondary football destination.
— Bateman Football (@BatemanFootball) January 31, 2017
The linebacker was a AA Provincial all-star in 2016, and also played a key role on the Timberwolves as a fullback.
The Lions finished 2016 with a record of two wins and six losses. York plays in the U Sports’ Ontario University Athletics division. Davis first hit the gridiron at the age of 10 with the Abbotsford Falcons, and also stars for the Timberwolves senior boys basketball team.