David Donovan, center, during Mainland Regional High School football practice in Linwood, Friday Aug. 30, 2013.

David Donovan looks forward to the challenge of playing football for a Division I school this fall.

The 18-year-old guard and defensive end for Mainland Regional High School gave a verbal commitment to Columbia University on Jan. 10.

"I really like Columbia's core curriculum and how they require you to take certain classes to make you a well-rounded person" Donovan said.

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The Mainland Regional senior from Linwood also attracted interest from the University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Holy Cross and Brown University, but Columbia's football team made a lasting impression.

"I went up there and saw that it was the best fit for me" he said. "I like the coach and the team, and I want to be a part of the rebuilding process."

The Lions were 0-10 in 2013 and 0-7 in the Ivy League, a Football Championship Subdivision conference.

Mainland Regional's defensive coordinator Billy Kern has confidence in Donovan's abilities to contribute to Columbia's rebuilding process as a defensive end.

"David has an extremely great work ethic. There's never a day that he's not one of the hardest working guys on the field" Kern said.

Donovan made 56 tackles his senior year at Mainland and was a second-team Press All-Star.

"He has the ability to push himself every single day, and I think that will take him far" Kern added.

Donovan also pushes himself academically with a 5.07 weighted GPA. He scored 2090 on the SATs and 33 on the ACTs.

"He had a lot of options from some tremendous schools, and he's a tremendous student. He's one of the best students in our school" Kern said.

Donovan hopes to continue his success while studying physics at Columbia.

"It's tough to keep up with, but it feels really good" he said about his academics. "It feels good to know you will succeed in college, and you're basically set academically."

Donovan will be honored by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame as one of the top scholar-athletes in Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland and Salem counties.

Bob Coffey, Mainland Regional's head football coach, said he has high expectations for his three-year starter as well.

"He's been a great leader for us, not only on the field, but also in the classroom," Coffey said. "He's a fine young man, and we're going to miss him."

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