As a 6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive tackle, Ryan Bryce drew the interest of many Division I programs. Boston College, Central Florida, Rutgers, Temple, and Virginia were among the schools to offer scholarships.
But St. Joseph's Prep coach Gabe Infante learned one day that the team captain had more than just football on his mind. "He told me, 'I think I want to serve my country. It's important to me.' "
With that, Bryce announced his commitment to play at Army. On Wednesday afternoon, the first day of college football's early signing period, the 17-year-old from Horsham signed a letter of intent to play for the Black Knights.
"I always wanted to serve in some way," he explained. "I really can't pinpoint when the idea first came into my mind."
The other Prep players who made their college commitments official at McShain Library were wideouts Darryle Simmons (Virginia Tech), Brandon Sanders (Bucknell), linebacker Phil O'Connor (Richmond), and strong safety Dawson DeIuliis (Princeton).
"Just look at what these kids have accomplished," Infante said. "It says a lot about our program and school."
Like many Army recruits, Bryce expects to begin at the United States Military Academy Prep School before moving on to the academy. He plans to leave for West Point, N.Y., in early July.
"Life in the military and the regimen that goes with it is going to be new to me, obviously, so I'm a little nervous," Bryce said. "But I know what I'm getting into and I'm ready for it."
Bryce helped the Prep go 13-1 this season, successfully defend its Catholic League Class 6A and PIAA District 12 titles, and advance to the state final before losing to District 7's Pine-Richland, 41-21, in Hershey.
"We didn't finish the way we wanted to, but it was still a great season," Bryce said.
Despite being slowed by knee and back injuries, Bryce earned all-Catholic League Red Division honors for the second straight season and was a Class 6A all-state selection.
He was double- and triple-teamed a lot this year, and that allowed other guys to charge in unblocked and make plays," Infante said.
Bryce, who was involved in 34 tackles and notched four sacks, was joined on the all-state team by O'Connor (team-high 81 tackles, seven sacks). DeIuliis posted 46 tackles and made three interceptions.
Of DeIuliis, Infante said, "He was the captain of our secondary, the brains back there. We'll sorely miss his leadership."
Sanders made 39 catches for 514 yards and nine touchdowns. "He became our go-to guy on offense as the season went along," Infante said.
Simmons missed the entire season because of a torn Achilles tendon. "I can't wait to put the TV on and watch him play for Virginia Tech," Infante said.
Division I Football Commitments from Southeastern Pa.
Player School Pos. Ht. Wt. College
O'Shaan Allison Malvern Prep RB 5-10 205 Ohio U.
Christian Barmore Neumann-Goretti DL 6-5 297 Alabama
Joe Basiura Malvern Prep OL 6-3 295 Penn
Ryan Betz Malvern Prep DL 6-3 255 Bucknell
Massimo Biscardi Down. West PK 5-10 190 Coastal Carolina
Leddie Brown Neumann-Goretti RB 6-0 210 West Virginia
Ryan Bryce St. Joseph's Prep DL 6-4 285 Army
Dawson DeIuliis St. Joseph's Prep DB 5-9 195 Princeton
Rahsul Faison Pottsgrove RB 6-0 190 Stony Brook
Amir Gillis Simon Gratz ATH 5-10 190 Temple
Justis Henley North Penn ATH 5-11 175 Delaware
Colin Hirschmann La Salle TE 6-6 240 Towson
Colin Hurlbrink Haverford School DE 6-2 225 Lafayette
Oshea Jackson Imhotep Charter DL 6-6 240 Old Dominion
Oliver Jervis Pennridge OL-DE 6-6 250 Monmouth
Khan Jamal North Penn DB 5-11 205 Delaware State
Justin Johnson Neumann-Goretti OL 6-7 345 Oregon
Isiah Jones La Salle DB 6-1 220 William and Mary
Daniel Karrash La Salle PK-P 6-2 180 Penn
Adam Klein Episcopal Ac. OL 6-5 265 Temple
Tanner Long Germantown Ac. LB 6-1 225 Penn
Cole McCabe Malvern Prep LB 5-11 210 Bucknell
Jordan Mosley Haverford High LB 6-1 200 Maryland
Tim Moulton Archbishop Ryan DL 6-4 255 Massachusetts
Phil O'Connor St. Joseph's Prep LB 6-0 200 Richmond
Matt Palmer Archbishop Wood LB 5-11 190 Delaware
Anthony Paoletti Marple Newtown QB 6-2 200 Delaware
Nasir Peoples Archbishop Wood DB 6-0 185 Virginia Tech
Kyle Pitts Archbishop Wood TE 6-5 235 Florida
Matt Rosso Pennsbury OL 6-6 260 Rutgers
Brandon Sanders St. Joseph's Prep WR 5-10 175 Bucknell
Billy Shaeffer Archbishop Wood DE 6-4 220 Lafayette
Darryle Simmons St. Joseph's Prep WR 6-2 200 Virginia Tech
Kahtero Summers Coatesville WR 6-3 195 St. Francis (Pa.)
Nick Tarburton Pennridge LB 6-3 240 Penn State
Owen Thomas North Penn TE 6-4 210 Villanova
Liam Trainer La Salle LB 6-2 230 Delaware
Avery Young Coatesville DB 6-1 175 Rutgers