BERLIN- Another local standout scholar-athlete is taking his game to the next level with Stephen Decatur football team captain and senior Matt Wootten recently accepted and signed to play in the prestigious Collegiate Sprint Football League (CSFL) at the University of Pennsylvania next season.
The CSFL was founded back in the 1930s in response to the ever-growing size of college football players as a way to give average sized student-athletes a chance to extend their football careers beyond the high school level. The sprint football game is essentially the same except the participating players can weigh no more than 172 pounds.
Sprint football is a recognized NCAA Division I sport with several prestigious schools fielding teams including Pennsylvania, Princeton, Cornell, Army and Navy. As the quality of the schools involved suggests, the players in the league are noted as much for their academics as they are their accomplishments on the football field and Decatur’s Wootten is no exception.
Long-time Pennsylvania head coach Bill Wagner hand-selected Wootten along with five other soon-to-be freshmen from around the country. Wootten, who starred as a linebacker at Decatur, has equally impressive credentials in the classroom, achieving a weighted grade point average of 4.75 and is projected to finish in the top ten of Decatur’s 350-member senior class this year. Wootten is also a Maryland Distinguished Scholar and a member of the National Honor Society.
Sprint football, as it is called today, was founded in 1934 as the Eastern 150-pound Football League because it was determined at the time the average size of a college-age male was 150 pounds. That average size has increased over the years and the league has changed its maximum size requirement several times to reach the current 172-pound maximum.
In 1967, the league’s name was changed to the Eastern Lightweight Football League and it was changed again in 1998 to the Collegiate Sprint Football League. The league has had 13 different schools field teams over the course of its existence. The league also has an impressive list of alumni including former President Jimmy Carter, Donald Rumsfeld, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and former NFL coach George Allen.