Family played a big role in Egg Harbor Township senior Austin Gray choosing to play football at St. Francis University in Pennsylvania.

"When I went there, I really liked it. It is not too far from home." the defensive tackle said about the campus in Loretto, Pa. "My family and friends loved it."

Gray plans to sign his national letter of intent to play for St. Francis today. The Red Flash are an NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision team that plays in the Northeast Conference. They were 5-6 last season.

In 19 varsity starts for the Eagles, Gray was a solid player on both sides of the ball. At 6-foot-2, 270 pounds, Gray accumulated 121 tackles, 46 of them solo, and 1½ sacks.

"Austin has great potential of being very good college player," said Tony DeRosa, who coached the Egg Harbor Township football team last season. "He has really matured this past year. ... He was faced with a lot of adversity this year, and it will take him far into his playing career."

Gray said he thinks there will be opportunities for him to play in his freshman year.

"I've just got to go out there work hard," Gray said. "They do rotate a lot of lineman in and out of the game. I might be seeing a lot of time."

Gray will receive a full scholarship with the exception of room and board. Even though he won't be playing for Egg Harbor Township next year, Gray will root for his former team from college.

"They have a lot of talent coming back next year," Gray said. "I hope they win states next year."

"We're very proud of Austin," DeRosa said. "We wish him the best of luck, and if he continues to work hard, he is going to be a good football player."

Contact R.J. Kern:

609-272-7210