By Kate Hill
In December, Cazenovia High School graduate and Colgate University football player Jake Shaffner played in the sixth annual FCS Bowl — a postseason college football all-star game.
Held in Deland, Florida, the game provided players from smaller colleges with the opportunity to shine in front of scouts from various professional football leagues, including the National Football League (NFL) and Canadian Football League (CFL).
The game is open to collegiate players who have completed their eligibility in NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
“To be selected, it was a huge honor,” Shaffner said. “To be recognized for all of the hours and work I put into my craft is just something that makes [me] feel so good. Playing in the game was a very cool experience. I was surrounded by so much talent, [and it was] so fun to just go out and play. All star games . . . are a simplified version of football which brings you back to being a kid and playing in the backyard with all of your friends.”
Although Shaffner did not start playing football until sixth grade, the game has always been a big part of his life.
His father, Paul Shaffner, is currently the defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach for the Colgate Raiders football team. Prior to joining the Raiders, he coached at Buffalo State.
“In elementary school I would stay at Buffalo State for their August camp,” Shaffner said. “I would sit in on my dad’s meetings with his players and [stay up for] all the late nights. This was the first time that my love for football was apparent.”
A three-year letterman for Cazenovia High School, Shaffner was named the 2015 New York State Sportswriters and Coaches Class B Player of the Year after helping his team to achieve a 13-0 record and the Class B state title.
During his time as a Laker, the player contributed to a three-year Cazenovia record of 32-2.
“The run that we had as a team my senior year of high school — all the way to the state championship — was one of the biggest thrills of my life,” Shaffner said. “[That] was something that I could not have dreamed of without the help of my high school coaches and my team. Without them, I never could have been honored as [player] of the year.”
In Feb. 2016, Shaffner signed his national letter of intent to become a Colgate student and athlete.
“[He] handled all of Colgate’s long-snapping duties for nearly his entire football career, in addition to his every-down role as a reserve linebacker,” said Colgate University Director of Athletic Communications John Painter. “The senior helped Colgate placekicker Chris Puzzi set program field goal records for ‘made in a season’ and ‘accuracy’ in both a season and career. Shaffner also helped Barney Amor punt for a 42.1-yard average that set Colgate’s season mark for a minimum of 40 attempts.”
Shaffner points to a game-winning field goal against James Madison University (JMU) in the second round of playoffs as a highlight of his college football career.
“I was the long snapper for that play, which usually goes unnoticed, and I would not have it any other way,” he said. “The moment someone notices a long snapper, they messed up . . . The second moment [that stands out] was going out to my dad on senior day. He has coached me my entire life, and it was an extremely emotional thing for me.”
Shaffner has dreamed of playing in the NFL since he was in first grade.
In January, he will play in front of scouts at exposure events in Dallas, Texas and Mobile, Alabama.
Following these two events, Shaffner expects to have a much better understanding of his chances at playing professionally.
Outside the realm of football, Shaffner is interested in pursuing a career in commercial real estate development.
“Basically, I have to wait and see how things go for me,” he said. “In the meantime, I will continue to work my butt off both in the weight room and on the field.”