Atlantic County Institute of Technology senior Colin Beasley has verbally committed to play soccer at Rutgers University.

Beasley, 17, of Mays Landing, is only the second ACIT athlete to ever commit to play at a NCAA Division I school, the first being classmate Tony Santa Maria who committed last year to play baseball at Iona University in New York.

Beasley is ready.

“I’m always looking forward to the challenges ahead of me,” he said.

Beasley started playing soccer when he was 4.

“As a kid I was terrible,” Beasley said.

He joined the South Jersey Elite Barons travel team in 2010 when it was brand new, but it wasn’t until he was 10 or 12 that he started to take the game seriously.

“I trained an hour or an hour-and-a-half a day outside, not counting (practicing with) my team,” Beasley said.

During the summer before his freshman year, Beasley was invited to participate in a Nike id2 training camp in North Jersey, the purpose of which is to identify and develop eventual U.S. National Team players.

Thus began Beasley’s freshman to junior high school career.

“Colin when he came in as a freshman was part of the national pool of players, one of the top 40 or 60 players in the country,” ACIT coach James Taylor said.

“We pretty much played one midfielder (Beasley) because he was so dominant,” said Taylor. “Every coach on every team knew that he was good.

“He was the best player I’d ever coached in 40 seasons.”

Beasley was a Press first-team All-Star in 2018 in which he scored 18 goals and had 16 assists. He had 33 career goals in three seasons.

Beasley left the Barons last winter to join FC Delco in southeast Pennsylvania, to get as much exposure as possible.

FC Delco is a soccer club devoted specifically to kids with the potential to be professional players.

That sort of program requires sacrifice.

For Beasley, that sacrifice comes in 80-minute drives one-way, four to five times a week for practices and games.

He does that year round, taking just a month off in the winter and summer.

It also meant that he could not play his senior year with any other team, including the Red Hawks.

“Every week our team (FC Delco) has a goal,” Beasley said. “I work on maintaining my touch, and I can always improve my interpretation of the game, my awareness of what’s going on.”

Beasley says he’s a perfectionist.

“If I make a mistake, I’m going to spend an hour in the backyard working on it,” he said. “My routine is wake up, school, soccer, home, eat, sleep, repeat. It’s pretty much a lifestyle.”

But Beasley does not consider himself talented.

“I don’t like to think of myself as talented other than lucky I’m 6-foot-1,” Beasley said. “It’s more down to hard work and being very coachable. You have to adapt to new situations.”

The hard work paid off when Rutgers scouted Beasley at a couple of his club games.

“The Big Ten is one of the toughest (conferences) in the country,” Beasley said. “I’m definitely looking forward to making a new second family.”

Beasley plans to study exercise science and then go to chiropractic school, but that’s just his plan B.

“I know it’s unrealistic as a kid, but I’ve always wanted to be a professional player,” Beasley said. “My No. 1 goal is to become a professional player, and I’ll continue to strive to do that.”

Beasley’s financial package is yet to be finalized, but he said it will be a combination of athletic and academic money and as close to a full scholarship as possible.

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