FINDING THE right college can be an arduous ordeal. Applications pile up, essays loom large and SATs come packed with pressure.

And, after all of that you have to see the place, right?

Well, after Germantown Academy quarterback Hayes Nolte spent his summer searching the East Coast for the right fit, the decision to commit to Cornell came easy.

"It feels great," Nolte said. "It was a long process, and we looked at a bunch of different schools. It was a little frustrating and a little stressful at times, but I'm pumped I finally found a home and I'm excited that it's Cornell."

Nolte, a 6-4, 230-pounder, folded himself into his mom's silver Volkswagen Jetta and schlepped to not just every Ivy League school this summer, but also Richmond, Elon and Bucknell. If you're scoring at home, that's roughly 2,284 miles from the family's Blue Bell home, which is near GA's Ambler campus. Add about 14 more for the much easier trip to Villanova.

After a 1,728-yard, 15-touchdown senior season in the air, Nolte said coaches were impressed on film, but wanted to see him in person. So, he said the trips were essentially 1-day workout camps. The hope was to find a school by summer's end.

However, when that didn't happen, Nolte, who is also a 2-year lacrosse captain, grew frustrated.

"He had a lot of different options," GA coach Matt Dence said. "He wants to be a football player. He is a football player."

Nolte started playing in kindergarten with the 55-pound Ambler Whitpain Trojans. But, when high school brought early lacrosse success, colleges sought early commitments.

In his heart, though, Nolte wanted to pursue the pigskin. A 1,600-yard, 13-TD junior season (he also had a six-touchdown game that season) provided confirmation. He finished his career with 3,886 yards and 32 TD passes.

"I realized I couldn't give up football," he said. "I had a lot of great opportunities with lacrosse, but I couldn't live with myself if I didn't play football."

So, he hit the road with his mom, Sandy, who played rugby at Purdue. His official visit last weekend was actually trip No. 3. His dad, Jeff, also made a few treks.

Ultimately, Cornell's Ithaca, N.Y., campus, which is set on 2,300 acres in the center of the state, appealed the most.

"The town seems like it really revolves around the school," Nolte said. "The way the school is broken up with separate colleges within the university, it seems like it's small academically, but big socially."

Nolte is so determined to play college football, he's even willing to switch positions. Cornell is contemplating him at tight end, H-back or the occasional wildcat QB.

If he never plays quarterback again, at least his last memory will be of a 42-35 victory against rival Penn Charter this season (the first win against the Quakers in 13 meetings).

"That was kind of like a huge weight off our shoulders, because there's been a lot of positive energy around our program, but it's all kind of lip service until you actually see results," Nolte said. "And, beating PC was definitely one of the greatest feelings with it being such a big rivalry, being disappointed and finally getting over the hump."

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