St. Augustine Prep senior wide receiver and defensive back Shamere Collins will play football at Sacred Heart University, an NCAA Division I program, next fall.
The 17-year-old from Millville tweeted Thursday he has verbally committed to Sacred Heart and confirmed it during a phone interview Friday morning.
Collins, who has 179 tackles and 17 interceptions in his career, received offers from schools such as Army, Bucknell, Delaware State, Elon and Fordham but chose the Fairfield, Connecticut, university, where he will be reunited with his friend and former teammate Ezekial Ennis.
Collins said he spent months of narrowing his choices to Elon University, Army and Sacred Heart.
“I started weighing the pros and cons of what was best for me and my family at the time,” Collins said. “Sacred Heart just checked all the boxes.”
Joining the Pioneers also means rejoining St. Augustine Prep alum Ennis on the field.
“Me and Zek have been best friends since the sixth grade,” Collins said. “Once I started narrowing it down, and I told him that Sacred Heart was an option, he started telling me more about the school, some things that are important, and our relationship definitely played its part.”
Collins, who is undecided about his major, said he wanted to go somewhere he could play on a competitive football team and focus on his academics.
“Somewhere I feel I can grow as a person and be comfortable, and I can also make an immediate impact when I get there,” Collins said about his ideal college experience.
Sacred Heart football is part of the Football Championship Subdivision and went 6-5 last season with four players named to the All-Northeast Conference Second Team. Under coach Mark Nofri, the Pioneers already are 2-0, having defeated Stetson University and Lafayette College.
Sacred Heart also is home to other local players, including Ocean City’s Paul Stanton and St. Joseph’s Knikeem Lewis.
The Hermits (1-1), ranked sixth in The Press Elite 11, played Williamstown on Friday night. Collins had 105 receiving yards entering the game.
Collins was a first-team Press All-Star in 2016 after a season in which he intercepted five passes and made 56 tackles. He says the Prep football program has given him confidence to play at the Division I level.
“Our coaches have been really tough on us, always pushing us really hard, so when I get there, it’s not like I’m going to be new at hard work,” Collins said. “It’s going to be more intense, but it’s not going to be something I’m not used to.”
After sorting through his multiple offers, Collins said he was relieved to make this decision.
“At this point in the year, we’re working with our guidance counselors on our college essays and applying,” Collins said. “So I get to stop doing all of that, so it’s definitely a weight off my shoulders.”