At some point this morning, Canon-McMillan senior Alex Campbell will sign his name on a piece of paper, pick up a pointer or two on how to actually use a fax machine and send his National Letter of Intent to Colgate University.
Not wrestling, the sport in which Campbell has compiled a 129-41 career record and has been part of a Canon-McMillan wrestling dynasty that accumulates championships the way some people collect quarters.
“Football has always been my favorite sport,” the 6-3, 225-pound Campbell said. “I’ve always wrestled, but I’ve always liked football a lot more. I guess our wrestling team wins more, but football is my sport.”
Athletes across the country will sign and fax letters of intent this morning, making their allegiances to certain schools final.
Locally, that means 10 players, most committing to Football Championship Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-AA) schools. South Fayette wide receiver Zach Challingsworth (Pitt) and Monessen quarterback Chavas Rawlins (West Virginia) are the area’s lone Division I recruits.
Colgate is an FCS program and plays in the Patriot League along with the likes of Lehigh, Georgetown and Lafayette.
The Raiders won their seventh Patriot League title last season with a record of 5-0, 8-4, advancing to the NCAA playoffs for the first time since 2008.
“There’s a tradition there,” said former Canon-McMillan coach Tim Sohyda.
Campbell, who has a 3.5 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale, played tight end and linebacker at Canon-McMillan but likely projects as a rush end at Colgate.
Too bad, too, because the Raiders boast one of the country’s best offenses: third in scoring at 39.4 points per game; fourth in offense at 486.4 yards per game; fifth in rushing at 284.5 yards per game, the fourth time in the past five years Colgate has finished in the top five in that category.
“I think Colgate has been chasing him the longest,” Sohyda said. “They’ve been here since last year. They’re a very successful program, and Alex has really good grades. I think he wants to be surrounded with those types of people, so it just felt right for him.”
As a tight end, Campbell caught 10 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown – hardly elite stats, though the Big Macs went just 1-8 while fielding a young team.
Campbell chose Colgate over other offers from Lafayette, West Point and the Citadel.
“My uncle is a headhunter, and I asked him about Colgate,” said Campbell, who has a 26-5 record in wrestling this season. “He said you can’t go wrong with that school.”
Sohyda’s favorite story to tell about Campbell actually involves wrestling, where Canon-Mac has won the past four WPIAL Team Tournament Titles, while also securing three PIAA team titles.
Though his weight typically tops out around 230 pounds by the end of the football season, Campbell willingly wrestles at 220, which has been the better fit for the team given the presence of heavyweight Angelo Broglia.
In college, Campbell will finally be able to add some weight.
“He’s a good kid with good parents and was raised the right way,” Sohyda said. “He understands anything that’s worth anything is going to take some hard work, and he’s not scared of that. He’s just an all-around solid kid.”
Expected to sign
FB/LB Brant Blacharczyk, McGuffey (Seton Hill)
TE/LB Alex Campbell, Canon-McMillan (Colgate)
WR/DR Zach Challingsworth, South Fayette (Pitt)
RB/LB Jaylin Kelly, Washington (Youngstown State)
DE Cole Kochman, Peters Township (Youngstown State)
*QB/DB Chavas Rawlins, Monessen (WVU)
OL Caleb Reihner, McGuffey (West Liberty)
OT Jeremy Saternos, Ringgold (Alderson-Broaddus)
TE/LB Mike Woltz, Peters Township (Robert Morris)
DE Austin Young, Ringgold (Alderson-Broaddus)