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Chapla excited for opportunity at Crimson Tide kicking camp

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Theresa Martin | For Trib Total Media
Jake Chapla gets set to kick off the 2014 season opener against Hempfield on Aug. 29, 2014.

Plum junior Jake Chapla set a new school record for the longest field goal — 51 yards — during last fall’s Quad East conference victory over Connellsville.

He broke Pat McAfee’s record of 48 yards, and the feat earned congratulations from McAfee on Twitter, as well as a boat load of other praise from all over.

Chapla has become one of the most lethal kickers in high school football in the WPIAL and the state, and the attention from college football programs continues to grow.

During the most recent period of activity where coaches were permitted to make visits to high schools — from April 15 to Sunday — Chapla said he received inquiries from schools such as Bowling Green, Pitt, Old Dominion, Temple, New Hampshire, Penn State, Army and Albany.

Correspondence through the U.S. Mail system this spring also got Chapla’s attention in a big way.

One envelope had a big “A” stamped on the front.

It was the familiar logo of the University of Alabama. The enclosed letter was an invitation for Chapla to be a part of the program’s one-day kicking camp in Tuscaloosa.

Chapla didn’t waste any time accepting the invitation. He flies to Alabama on Friday, will get the chance to show his stuff on Saturday before coming home on Sunday.

“We went in for weightlifting one day, and coach (Matt) Morgan handed me the envelope,” Chapla said.

“He told me to open it immediately. It said they recognized me as one of the top prospects in the country and invited me to the camp. Coach Morgan definitely knew is was something serious, and it definitely is a big honor for me. Alabama is one of the top programs in the country. I’m blessed to have this opportunity, and I want to take full advantage of it.”

Chapla said he isn’t sure how many other kickers will be there.

“I’m sure they are very selective,” he said.

Chapla said he didn’t have to think too hard before accepting the invite to Alabama, and he also will be busy making the camp circuit this summer.

He arrives home from Alabama on Sunday and then turns around for a Monday trip to a camp at Bowling Green in Ohio.

“I’ve been working hard on my kickoffs and also working a lot on improving my punting,” Chapla said. “I want to be as well-rounded as possible.”

Chapla was able to put key points on the board this past fall for Plum, which finished 5-3 in the Quad East, earned a WPIAL playoff spot and upended rival Penn Hills in the first round before falling to conference foe McKeesport in the quarterfinals.

“I still have so much room to improve,” Chapla said. “I am never satisfied. I want to be more confident to get that first Division I offer.”

Chapla said he is working out five to six days a week, and is mixing work in the weight room with his time on the field.

He said the day last summer he got some in-person pointers from McAfee will always resonate with him.

“Every time I step on the field, I think of the tips Pat gave me, especially when it comes to hitting punts,” Chapla said. “He’s an All-Pro, and it was an honor to work with him.”

While Chapla said he’s excited for personal opportunities, he’s also pumped for what the entire Mustangs squad can accomplish in 2015 with numerous returning players on both sides of the ball.

“We’re all excited,” he said. “We’ve been working so hard in the offseason to get to where we need to be. We got the taste of winning last year, and we want everything we can get this year. We’ve all bought in. It’s time to do our thing.”

Michael Love is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 413-388-5825 or at mlove@tribweb.com.

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