Towson University's football coaches have been after Middle Township High School's Zack Vogelei for more than a year.
They got him.
Vogelei, a first-team Press All-Star, confirmed in a phone interview Thursday afternoon that he has verbally committed to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision school. He will be able to sign a national letter of intent on Feb. 6.
"Coach (Rob) Ambrose is a really great guy, and they were there the whole recruiting process. And they really made me feel comfortable at the school," Vogelei said.
The 18-year-old Cape May Court House resident will get a partial athletic scholarship and said he hopes to also get a partial academic scholarship.
Vogelei has been to camps and multiple games on the campus in Towson, Md., which is less than three hours from his home by car.
"It just is a real team-like atmosphere," Vogelei said. "It's a great place."
Vogelei had 103 tackles, three sacks, one interception and three fumble recoveries this past season as a linebacker for Middle Township, which went 6-4 and reached the South Jersey Group II playoffs. He also ran for 693 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Middle coach Frank Riggitano said in a phone interview Thursday that Vogelei was quiet but led by example, and that players with his type of character come around only "once every five or six years."
Riggitano also said Vogelei should benefit from being able to concentrate on defense rather than playing both ways.
"He's only got to worry about one side of the ball," the coach said. "I just think he's going to be that much better."
Towson went 7-4 last season, Ambrose's fourth with the team. The Tigers were 6-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association. They won the conference title in 2011.
Riggitano said he was impressed with the Towson coaches' recruitment of Vogelei and that it was the right decision. He was also considering Delaware, Penn and Colgate.
"It's just got everything that he was looking for," Riggitano said in a phone interview Thursday. "It's got everything that he wanted as far as his education. … Their coaching staff's been great with contacting him when they're able to and expressing their interest in him, and I think it's an up-and-coming program."
The CAA is among the top conferences in the FCS. The conference featured more than 20 Cape-Atlantic League alumni last season.
Vogelei said he's looking forward to playing against former Middle teammate Justin Rhinesmith, an offensive lineman who will be a junior at Villanova this fall.
Vogelei also said he hopes Wildwood's Wesley Hills will join him at Towson, though Hills said in a text message Thursday that he still is not ready to publicly commit to a college.
Vogelei plans to take his official visit next week, staying in a hotel with other recruits.
"I'm very excited," he said. "I'm going to get the whole feeling of campus one more time and get to have fun and interact with the players a little bit more."
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