COREY MAJORS didn't want to spend a year after high school at Worcester (Mass.) Academy. He would much rather have gone from Neshaminy High directly to Villanova as planned.

And why not? The linebacker was considered to be one of the Wildcats' better recruits. Maybe even the best. A year later, he still is. It's just that now he'll be coming in with a different class.

Turns out, it probably was the best thing that could have happened to him.

"It was an eye-opener," said Majors, one of 18 players expected to sign a national letter of intent with Villanova today. "Once I got up here, it didn't take long for me to figure out that I might not have lasted in college if I'd gone there a year ago. This place has given me everything I needed, in terms of restructuring how I learned, my study habits, using my time, stuff I never really took seriously enough before. So instead of just doing enough to get by, I had to really start working at it. There's a big difference.

"When I first met the head coach, David Dykeman, he explained to me that I may not think this is what I want to do, or needed to do. And it may be that I was going to hate it. But at some point, you'll begin to realize how much it's going to help you when you do get to college. And that I'd be thankful and appreciative for doing it. I can still remember him telling me that. And I'm definitely reaping the benefits."

He still played football, for a team that went 5-3. But for him and most of his teammates, it obviously wasn't about getting better on the field. They were there for a reason. And they were in it together, which made the transformation that much smoother.

"My first thought was, 'I'm going to be the only one like me up there,' " said Majors, who also had some Division I-A scholarship offers. "I was worried that I was going to have an attitude about everything. But I found out that there were a number of people in my exact situation. We all just clicked. It's always good to know you're not in something by yourself.

"Up here, you have so much time on your hands. You can use it in a good way or a bad way. They teach you how to use it so you don't fall through the cracks. But it's up to you to listen to what they're saying . . .

"At first, you kind of, like, panic. I'm not going to lie. But by then there's not really any other option. I had people ask me why I was going to Villanova. But when I went to bigger schools, I just didn't feel as comfortable. I think you have to be realistic. I wanted to play right away. I didn't want to be the person waiting 2 or 3 years. I really wanted to go to a winning program. They're in one of the top conferences [Colonial Athletic Association] at their level [FCS], and they'd just won a national title [in 2009]. And I wanted a degree that would mean something. It was close to home. So it had pretty much everything I was looking for. It felt right."

He merely took a detour. So did the Wildcats. After a 3-year, 33-9 run that included a trip to the national semifinals in 2010, they're coming off a 2-9 season in which they played a bunch of youngsters. Majors - the third oldest of 10 children, and the oldest boy - would have been one of them.

"You just have to say things are meant to be," said the 6-1, 240-pound Majors, who wants to do something involving computers/technology. "You just can't force them to be. I'm just a proud example of that. My mom asked me at the time, 'Do you really want to go to Villanova? If you really do, then you'll go [to Worcester].' I said OK, so I went with an open mind.

"I showed I was capable of handling it. I feel I can be like a total package, not just one-sided. I'm planning on taking summer classes [at Villanova]. I'm counting the days, I want to be there so bad at this point. I almost can't describe it. I'm ready. I've been exposed to so much. You get accustomed to it. I thought I was going to the middle of the sticks. It was definitely a change."

So was making the honor roll for the first time. See you on the Main Line.