Jeff Steeb's family originally lived outside of Philadelphia and he grew up a fan of the Villanova University sports teams.
Next fall, the Holy Spirit High School linebacker will be a Wildcat. The senior verbally committed Monday to attend Villanova on a scholarship.
"It means a lot to get a scholarship," said Steeb, a Mullica Township resident. "It was a big goal. I always wanted to go to college, get a degree and become a better person in life."
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Steeb attended a summer camp there and then visited the Villanova, Pa., campus again when the Wildcats lost to Maine 37-35 on Oct. 26.
"I've always been a big fan of Villanova," Steeb said. "It's a nice campus. The football program is good, and it's a great academic school. When I went there, it just caught my eye."
Villanova is 5-5 this season. The Wildcats are a consistent Colonial Athletic Association contender. Villanova won the Football Championship Subdivision national title in 2009. The Wildcats have featured several Cape-Atlantic League players throughout the years, including current junior defensive back and 2011 Holy Spirit graduate Joe Sarnese.
Villanova coaches can not comment on Steeb until he signs a national letter of intent on the first Wednesday in February, under NCAA regulations.
Steeb emerged as one of the CAL's top linebackers last season. He played safety is his first two seasons at Spirit.
Steeb is now a leader of one of the state's best defenses. Spirit has three shutouts this season.
"Jeff has great athletic ability and great instincts," Holy Spirit coach John Iannucci said. "He's getting better and better and his best games are ahead of him."
Spirit (8-0) is ranked No. 1 in The Press Elite 11 and the top seed in the state Non-Public II playoffs. The Spartans will host No. 8 seed Pingry on Friday at 7 p.m. Spirit has won three straight state titles.
The Spartans will enter the playoffs anything but complacent.
"We know we can be better," Steeb said. "All of us can improve. We're taking every practice like it's a game. We just want to keep getting better and get to a state championship."
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