Max Valles of St. Joseph High School knocks the ball away during a game against Egg Harbor Township last season. Valles has committed to continue his education and football career at the University of Virginia. Ben Fogletto, Nov. 6, 2010

The decision on where to play college football was easy for Max Valles.

It took one trip to the University of Virgina for the St. Joseph High School football star to make his choice. Valles, who will be a senior this fall, verbally committed to play for the Division I Atlantic Coast Conference school this week.

Valles, a defensive end, said he and his parents fell in love with the campus and atmosphere.

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"I just loved the school," Valles said in a phone interview Thursday. "It had an at-home feeling."

The Winslow Township resident visited Rutgers and Virginia before making his selection.

Valles, 16, is a standout player who led the Wildcats to a state Non-Public II championship last fall. He made 51 tackles, recorded 10 sacks, grabbed four fumble recoveries and had an interception.

After visiting Virginia's campus and meeting with the coaching staff and a few players, Valles quickly made his decision. He will receive a full athletic scholarship.

"I think it's a great opportunity for Max," St. Joseph coach Paul Sacco said. "Anytime you get an educational university like that offering a scholarship and giving you a chance to make a commitment to them, it's outstanding."

Virginia was 4-8 last fall in the ACC under first-year coach Mike London, who is actively rebuilding the Cavaliers' football program. London spent the previous two seasons as the head coach at Richmond University, where he led the Spiders to a 24-5 record.

Valles liked the tenacity of the Virginia coaches.

"I feel comfortable there. They're the most serious coaching staff I've talked to," Valles said.

Valles also received offers from Rutgers, Purdue, Syracuse and Buffalo. He is confident, however, that Virginia was the right selection for him. If he chooses to go on any official visits, Valles said it will likely be back to Virginia.

Valles has one more high school season left to play before his selection becomes official. Nothing is final until Valles signs a national letter of intent in February, 2012.

"If he has the year I think he can (next fall), there will be a lot more offers for him," Sacco said.

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