TOWAMENCIN >> The North Penn football team that finished the regular season with an undefeated record last fall and reached the District 1-6A championship game was littered with talent.
Some of those players just made big decisions for their futures.
Five Knights signed their National Letter of Intent Wednesday morning at North Penn High School.
Kaleem Corbin, Shamar Edwards, Jonathan Haynes, Jake Walton and Julian White sat side-by-side at a table in the front of the school’s auditorium and put pen-to-paper to make their college decisions official.
“It’s always a proud day, specifically as a high school principal, to see such fine young men signing their letters of intent to go on and further their career and their education first and foremost,” North Penn Principal Pete Nicholson said. “They are student-athletes. They are fine students and they’re moving on from North Penn High School in June. It’s going to be different and it always is — it’s kind of a bittersweet moment for me. These gentlemen up here that we’ve watched over the last number of years on Friday night take us on some pretty interesting journeys — whether it be double-overtime wins or heart-breaking defeats unfortunately. It’s been a pleasure to watch the five men up here grow, mature, take on leadership roles within the program here at North Penn High School.”
“These five guys were a major part of the team this year and the success that that team had,” Athletic Director Bill Bartle added. “I can tell you — speaking to the coaches — this was one of the most exciting years they’ve had as a coaching staff and it is because of the type of individuals that are sitting up here. The team achieved a tremendous amount this year with many people doubting what their success would be. Truthfully, that really says a lot about the guys up here. The coaches do what they do year-in and year-out, but it takes a special group to achieve what they achieved this year.”
Kaleem Corbin will be attending Millersville University.
“I chose Millersville because I thought that I was at home there,” Corbin said. “It’s an academically-sound school.”
Corbin made the play that very well may have sent the Knights to the district championship. Trailing 21-14 in the third quarter against Downingtown West, Corbin grabbed an interception off a tipped ball and somehow managed to get a foot inbounds. The Knights took the ensuing possession down for a score to tie the game and went on to win the semifinal matchup, 35-21.
“What was so cool about Kaleem — it was wanting to know what’s going on,” assistant head coach David Franek said. “We talk about mental reps. You can only give so many kids reps. His junior year … he wanted to know what was going on, he wanted to know the schemes, he wanted to know the concepts and he worked at it. A kid with a great motor and a great energy. I almost feel to his detriment at times because he’s going so fast and so hard all the time. I know Kaleem is going to outwork the other people in the room with him. I only see success from him.”
Corbin plans to play cornerback and major in physical therapy.
Shamar Edwards will be attending West Chester University.
“I chose West Chester because I was comfortable,” Edwards said. “I could call it home.”
The senior had a phenomenal season, earning the Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery News Area Football Player of the Year.
Edwards finished the year with 1,751 rushing yards — 134.7 per game — and totaled 15 touchdowns.
Arguably his best performance came in the District 1 Class 6A semifinals against Downingtown West. Edwards rushed 29 times for 318 yards and three touchdowns in the 14-point win. He also made the key deflection that led to Corbin’s game-changing interception.
“I call Shamar a ‘fill in the blanks’ guy,” Franek said. “You need a guy who can do anything you? He can return kicks, he can return punts, you could play him at d-end, you could play him at linebacker, you could play him at safety, at strong safety … He’s just one of those special players that only come around here or there.”
Edwards plans to play safety and major in public health.
Jonathan Haynes will be attending Millersville University.
“I just felt at home at Millersville,” Haynes said. “A lot of my friends go there and I just like the plan they have for me when I get there whatever side of the ball I play.”
Haynes, who earned First Team All Area honors for his play at defensive back, had one of his best performances this past season came against Suburban One League Continental Conference rival Pennridge. He returned a punt for a 73-yard touchdown and also rushed for a 13-yard score to lead the Knights to a 42-20 win and 4-0 start to the season.
“I know (Haynes) is going to have unbelievable success either side of the ball — wherever he decides to play,” Franek said. “I think he is only really scratching the surface at where he can go.
“Jon and Kaleem hopefully will bring that North Penn flair to Millersville and let them know where real football is played — and that’s in Lansdale.”
Haynes plans to play wide receiver and major in business.
Jake Walton will be attending Villanova University.
“I chose Villanova because when I went to visit I felt at home there,” he said. “Meeting with the coaches and players — it just felt great being there.”
Walton, a First Team All Area offensive line selection, led a Knights line that paved the way for a dominant offense. Walton set the tone up front to help Edwards rush for 1,751 yards and 14 touchdowns and Julian White also found the end zone 14 times.
“I have absolutely seen almost a 180 in Jake in just his mindset,” Franek said. “I know he’s a fantastic student. His ability to due it in the classroom as well as on the field and the amount of effort he put into his individual group — that offensive line group and the unit that they had — I said I was so concerned coming into this year losing all our guys, but there is something to be said about the group bonding and the clicking of a unit — those five guys — and Jake was by far the leader of that.”
Walton plans to play center or guard and is undecided on his major.
Julian White will be attending Bloomsburg University.
“I chose Bloomsburg because I felt like it’s the best fit for me both academic wise and sports wise,” he said. “Their offense is … similar to North Penn’s offense so I felt like that was the best choice for me.”
White, a First Team All Area defensive line selection, had an impressive performance in the District 1-6A quarterfinals against Neshaminy. A starting linebacker was injured during the pregame warmups and White was called upon as the “next man up.” He responded by leading the defense in a 14-6 win to advance to the semifinals.
Offensively, White shined against Pennsbury with 113 rushing yards and two scores. He tied Edwards for the team lead in rushing touchdowns with 14.
“I can say without a doubt the best leader we have ever had at this school,” Franek said of White, “and I think these kids will tell you too. At halftime, if the guys need to hear from a voice, it was Julian’s that was resounding in that locker room, but he didn’t even have to say anything. He did it with his play. He led by example. His motor is unbelievable.”
White plans to play full back and running back and major in exercise science.
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