St. Augustine Prep's Andrew Baumgardner verbally committed Saturday to attend James Madison University on a Division I football scholarship.
Baumgardner, 18, played both offensive and defensive line for the Hermits and was a four-year starter, but the 6-foot-3, 252 pounder said he will focus on playing primarily offensive line and center for the Dukes.
After considering other schools such as New Hampshire, Maine, Delaware and Villanova, Baumgardner, of Longport, eventually decided on James Madison because of the atmosphere and the campus attitude toward football.
"I've always dream of playing in a big stadium and going to a big-time football school." Baumgardner said.
"One of the things I really liked about the school was they were all about football."
Baumgardner remembered being invited down to attend a game against Liberty University on Sept. 25.
"The wasn't even that big of a game." Baumgardner said. "But it sold out. Their stadium has been sold out for the past five years. One thing I got from JMU that I didn't get from the other schools is they're intense. You feel like you're in the moment."
Baumgardner had 10 sacks for the Hermits this season and 18 tackles for a loss. He also recovered two fumbles. He was a Press first-team All-Star this season and last season.
James Madison is a Football Championship Subdivision school that plays in the Colonial Athletic Association.
St. Augustine head coach Dennis Scuderi said he will be very surprised if Baumgardner doesn't have great success playing college football.
"He won't miss a beat." Scuderi said. "He's a hard worker. Always in the weight room. He did all the things he had to do to become a college football player."
Atlantic City High School graduate Leavander Jones is a sophomore cornerback for the Dukes.
Baumgardner said that he met Jones on a visit to the school and heard nothing but great things about the team.
Baumgardner, who is also a four-year letterwinner in wrestling at St. Augustine, is planning on redshirting his freshman year and hopes to make the travel squad.
He is preparing himself for the next level of football while he finishes high school.
"I expect the competition to get a lot bigger and better." Baumgardner said. "I'm going to keep working my tail off and do what I do best. And that's play football."
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