EXETER ‚?? From a high school football star one fall to a college freshman trying to prove his worth the next autumn.
Wyoming Area‚??s Nick O‚??Brien went through the process ‚?? albeit at a different level ‚?? and is ready to do it again as he made his verbal commitment to Bucknell University official Wednesday morning, signing with the Bison.
O‚??Brien culminated a four-year varsity career this season by becoming the school‚??s all-time leading rusher, being named to the Pennsylvania Sports Writers Class 2A all-state team and leading his team to a District 2 Class 2A championship.
The road to this season success started with trepidation when O‚??Brien joined the varsity as a freshman. He was the only ninth-grader on the roster that year.
‚??When I was a freshman in high school, I really didn‚??t want to play on the varsity,‚?Ě O‚??Brien said. ‚??I thought maybe I wanted to play with my friends. I didn‚??t think I‚??d get much playing time, but it ended up the greatest decision I ever made.‚?Ě
O‚??Brien broke into Wyoming Area‚??s starting lineup on defense as a freshman. He also saw time at running back, a position he excelled at as a sophomore. He played quarterback the majority of the time over the past two season, but also saw action as a running back and even at receiver.
But while he was piling up incredible numbers on one side of the ball, it‚??s on the other where he‚??ll play at Bucknell. The 5-foot-9, 185-pounder was recruited as a cornerback, only one of two listed among Bucknell‚??s 18 recruits. He‚??ll also be used as a returner; he returned three punts for touchdowns as a senior.
‚??It‚??s going to be a little different for me,‚?Ě O‚??Brien said. ‚??Obviously, I‚??m used to doing many different things. It‚??s going to take some time to adjust to it, but the coaching staff has a good idea what I can do down there. So I should be all right.‚?Ě
Other programs that recruited O‚??Brien included Army, Navy, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire and Villanova.
‚??He is going to do exceptionally well,‚?Ě Wyoming Area coach Randy Spencer said. ‚??At times you worry about guys going away and making the transition. Some of the intangibles Nick has shown aside from his athletic ability ‚?? the toughness, the perseverance and the fierce competitiveness ‚?? he‚??s somebody I feel comfortable about making the transition.‚?Ě
Bucknell finished this past season 0-5 in the Patriot League and 3-8 overall, with four losses coming by seven points or less. The Bison will return 16 starters.
O‚??Brien marks the third consecutive year Wyoming Area has sent a player to a Division I college. Julian Campenni, a 2011 graduate, is a defensive lineman at UConn, while 2012 grad Nick Bartoli is an offensive lineman at Sacred Heart.