He’s a 6-foot-4, 250-pound three-sport athlete who makes an impact in any season. But for Selah’s Skylar Rayburn, athleticism is more a means to be a loyal and steadfast teammate than an opportunity to excel individually.
Why does an all-state defensive end pursue basketball and track? Not just because he can, but because that’s a sports family to be a part of with memories to be made.
So you can imagine how excited he is this week to not only rekindle his football connections with Vikings’ teammates Jake Weber and Cameron Ditter, but to do so with the best seniors in the state for the 25th annual Earl Barden Classic all-star football game.
It’s been a long and fulfilling senior year that will finish where it started. Pads on.
“I’ve always enjoyed doing three sports, and there’s definitely benefits for football by doing that,” he said Tuesday after players from all over the state checked in at Howard Johnson Plaza, the game’s headquarters. “The footwork, ability to adjust yourself and different muscle groups — basketball and track are both very helpful with that. But what attracts me the most is just being a part of those teams. The different friends and the coaches, they’re all like family.”
Of which he is a thoughtful and generous member.
Ask about his favorite extracurricular activities and, sure, there’s a ton of sports going on. But it doesn’t end there. Rayburn is involved in Selah’s Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) program and he and classmate Elijah Pepper wanted to help make a difference.
“In the club you create community projects and we raised money for kids who can’t afford the fees to participate in sports and other things,” he said. “People don’t realize how that adds up and we raised $1,500. It was a way to help out.”
Shortly after the Barden week, Rayburn will attend the FCCLA National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, Calif., to network with fellow members from around the country.
Recurring theme: Part of a team.
Later in the summer he will move on to Christian-based George Fox University, an NCAA Div. III program in Oregon that easily stood out in Rayburn’s recruitment. The Bruins are keen on the two-time CWAC first-team defensive end staying right where he’s best at — on the edge. While big No. 77 led his team in sacks as a junior and senior, Selah won 18 of 21 games, reached the 2A state quarterfinals in 2018 and finished last season on a 5-0 run while outscoring opponents 248-45.
“I’m more comfortable in that spot because it’s more of an isolation position with a one-on-one mentality,” he explained. “I don’t mind being inside, where you see more double teams, but the outside just fits me better. I like being able to use all my skills.”
Rayburn qualified for the state track and field championships in the shot put for three straight years and has led the Valley for two seasons, including a throw of 52 feet, 5 inches this spring. But if he’s going to utilize those skills in college it’s going to have to wait.
“They recruited me for track also, but for the first year I’ll definitely do just football,” he said. “College is a big adjustment with classes and time management. Maybe I’ll take a look at it as a sophomore but for now, it’s just football and being a college freshman.”
Chances are, even as consuming as football is, the lure will be difficult for Rayburn to resist. The Bruins are a track powerhouse, having just placed third at the NCAA Div. III National Championships. It’s not so much that success, mind you, but the team.
“There’s a real family feeling at George Fox and it was clear to me they make that a priority.” Rayburn said. “That’s what attracted me most — the people and the way the team was coached.”