National Signing Day has become an event of tradition at St. Peter’s Prep. Every single year, the school hosts a get-together with their esteemed football players and their families to sign their National Letters of Intent at the school.
It’s a chance for the players to receive the accolades that come with earning a scholarship to college to play football and it’s a chance for the school to collectively stick out its chest in pride for another job well done.
This year, four young men earned the right to sign a letter to their respective schools as top players. Two of whom are headed to Ivy League schools, which don’t offer athletic scholarships, but do enhance financial aid packages for their prospective members of the football team.
But Kolton Huber signed his letter of intent to attend the University of Pennsylvania. Lineman Tommy McIntyre signed his letter with Cornell. It’s not often that any program sends two players off to the Ivy League, so the Marauders have a major accomplishment there.
Huber made perhaps the best defensive play in school’s history in 2014, when he took the ball right off the toe of the Paramus Catholic punter and returned it for a touchdown in MetLife Stadium, helping the Marauders win the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 4 state title, a win that gave the Marauders the No. 1 ranking in the entire state of New Jersey for the year.
While Huber gained his notoriety as a defensive player, he will be a wide receiver at Penn.
Huber made his commitment to Penn known last September, so the letter signing ceremony was more for show than anything.
“Michigan and Rutgers reached out to me after I committed, but I knew Penn was right for me,” Huber said. “As soon as I committed, I knew it was the place for me. I was set on going to Penn from the start. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to play college football. This is a great feeling.”
Huber’s older brother, Shane, a former Hudson Reporter Defensive Player of the Year during his days at Prep, is a junior at the University of Massachusetts, so the family will have two young men playing major college football in the fall.
Kolton Huber plans on majoring in economics at Penn.
McIntyre hardly played high school football due to injuries, but the 6-foot-6, 235-pound specimen earned the attention of Cornell because of his football potential and his academic standing.
“Cornell offered me first before anyone else,” McIntyre said. “So it was easy to commit there. It’s such a prestigious school that’s trying to build its football program.”
McIntyre, who has a 3.9 grade point average at Prep, plans to enroll in Cornell’s pre-med program.
It’s not known what position McIntyre will play at Cornell, whether it is at offensive tackle or perhaps tight end or defensive end. He has options.
But McIntyre was proud to be a part of Prep’s signing day festivities.
“It’s great,” McIntyre said. “It’s been a gift to be part of this program and share this day with these guys.”
As for facing Huber head-to-head down the road?
“I think it’s going to be cool playing against him,” McIntyre said.
“I’m sure there will be a lot of trash talking going back and forth between us,” Huber said.
Wide receiver K.J. Gray had the most emotional signing of the day. Gray had originally given a verbal commitment to Boston College last summer, but changed his mind a few months ago and opened up the recruiting process once again.
With that news, new Rutgers head coach Chris Ash swooped in and made himself and the program available to Gray.
Gray is one of the first recruits to enter the Rutgers football program under Ash’s guidance.
“I felt like I needed to give others a chance,” Gray said. “I had to take my visits and see what happened. Once Rutgers got their coaching staff in place, it seemed logical for me. They really made a big push for me. It was just a vibe I received when I was there. Everyone was enthusiastic, from the players to the coaches to everyone. I’m confident that Rutgers will be moving in the right direction and I’m glad I’m going to stay close to home and be with my family.”
Gray said that it was an emotional tussle to go back on his initial word.
“It was a very tough decision,” Gray said. “But once my family and I sat down and talked about it for hours, we knew that it was the right decision. I’m very optimistic about the way things are going. It’s a great feeling and a big relief to have this confirmed.”
Gray plans on majoring in business management at Rutgers.
The fourth signee was running back Sa’id Boykin, who signed an NCAA Division II letter of intent to attend Southern Connecticut State in the fall. The speedy Boykin chose Southern Connecticut over places like Wagner and New Hampshire.
“I went there for a visit and loved the campus,” said the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Boykin, who will play running back at Southern Connecticut. “I loved the coaching staff. It was a good fit for me.”
Boykin said that the recruiting process became nerve wracking, especially after some schools that showed initial interest backed off, more than likely because of Boykin’s lack of size.
“I was waiting to see what I was going to do,” Boykin said. “It was very stressful, having to wait all that time. But it’s an amazing feeling, knowing where I’m going now. It’s a dream come true. I know some schools were probably looking for bigger backs, but at the end of the day, I made it work.”
St. Peter’s Prep head football coach and athletic director Rich Hansen has been hosting a National Signing Day get-together for more than a quarter century, sending more than 100 former Prep players on to major college football.
And it’s now an annual event. Some schools have a player here and there get a chance to sign. It’s not easy for a high school kid to get all of the academic responsibilities squared away in order to sign the national letter. But at Grand and Warren, it’s a tradition now. You expect to have a visit in early February at the Prep for a signing, usually with a multitude of players.
“This is what it’s all about, sending our kids on to bigger and better things,” Hansen said. “Hopefully, they can draw on their experiences here at Prep and move on. I’m sure they’ll be successful in the real world and the football world. Sa’id is going to get the opportunity to contribute to Southern Connecticut right away. Tommy only played six games, but he got noticed as a defensive end for us. The other two were big-time recruits.
Added Hansen, “We like having this as an annual event. It means a lot to all of us.”
It certainly meant a lot to the parents and families of the four young men honored at the school last week. – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.