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November 27, 2014

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high school football:

Former Gorman standout Nate Starks cleared to play in Colorado

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Leila Navidi

Nathan Starks of Bishop Gorman runs with the ball during their game at Centennial High School in Las Vegas on Friday, October 19, 2012.

Gorman RB Nathan Starks

Nathan Starks of Bishop Gorman runs with the ball during their game at Centennial High School in Las Vegas on Friday, October 19, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Nate Starks remained patient and positive throughout the entire ordeal, frequently taking to Twitter to let followers know he was still fighting.

The former Bishop Gorman standout running back was optimistic his high school football career wasn’t finished.

On Wednesday, Starks received the news he had been waiting for — he was cleared to play by an arbitrator hearing his eligibility appeal and will suit up Friday for his new school, Cherry Creek High of the Denver area.

Starks broke an undisclosed Gorman school rule last April, triggering uncertainty for the top college recruit’s future. He’s a four-star recruiting prospect with scholarship offers from the likes of Notre Dame and Oklahoma, rushing for 1,821 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2012.

But he couldn’t get cleared by the Colorado High School Activities Association, which ruled his ineligibility from Nevada would be honored in Colorado. After a series of appeals, however, it was determined Starks wasn’t dismissed from Gorman — he completed his studies at home after the violation, then enrolled at Cherry Creek in July.

Arbitrator Joseph J. Bellipanni, who heard the appeal Wednesday, determined Starks’ suspension would be just two games — the two games for the violation at Gorman. He had already sat out six with Cherry Creek, meaning he could play this week.

“God always does me right. So thankful to say #24 WILL be on the field starting this Friday ! Lets go get this ring #CCOD!,” Starks posted on Twitter.

He had previously been denied eligibility by the Colorado association’s commissioner, a three-person appeals panel and the CHSAA board of directors, according to a statement by the Colorado association.

They determined he was ineligible because athletes transferring schools in Nevada must sit out 180 days, and the ineligibility transfers with you to another state. But because Starks finished his Gorman studies at home last spring, it was determined he wasn’t dismissed and opened the door for him to be eligible after sitting out two games because of the violation.

He was just like any other player moving out of state. Starks moved with his mother to Colorado, where they have family.

Becoming eligible also means Starks can play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, one of two prestigious national postseason all-star games. He’s expected to receive his game jersey in a ceremony at Cherry Creek — a place that’s embraced him since he enrolled. His teammates took to Twitter with the hashtag #FreeNate in support.

“I’m so grateful to Judge Bellipanni for giving us a fair hearing. I love Cherry Creek and my teammates, classmates and teachers. I’m looking forward to contributing to my school and team in every way I can,” Starks told the Denver Post.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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