When Dominick Richards of Jim Thorpe first went out for football at Marian Catholic, he had his heart set "on being a Peyton Manning;" a quarterback.

"I grew up playing quarterback," he said. "Everybody wants to be Peyton Manning."

His head coach, Stan Dakosty, had other ideas. He moved him to tight end and defensive end in his sophomore year and it has become obvious the coach knew best.

Yesterday, Richards signed a commitment letter to play for Division I-AA James Madison University, a college located in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. He also was sought by William and Mary, but chose 'the Dukes' instead.

It was because of his success at playing end in football that he received the college invitation and subsequent scholarship.

He visited five diffent campuses and selected James Madison "first and foremost because of the atmosphere and facilities."

"I had a great time when I went to a game there," he said. "They've sold out every game in the past five years. It really appealed to me. I want to play in a great atmosphere."

The signing occurred in the library of Marian Catholic High School.

Attending were his parents, coach Dakosty, and Sister Eileen McGuigan, student director at Marian.

James Madison is a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, which Dakosty said is often referred to as "the SEC of Division I-AA football."

Richards, a scholar athlete, is the oldest son of Ralph and Jeanette Richards. He has four siblings, Damian, a sophomore at Marian; and Dean, Natalia, and David, all students at St. Joseph Regional Academy in Jim Thorpe.

While on the Colts team, Dom was named a team co-captain.

He has a 4.0 grade point average and is a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, Eucharistic Ministers, and Peer Listeners. He was also chosen as Marian's Hugh O'Brien Youth Leadership Scholar, and was a Bishop's Scholar.

Other schools of interest for Richards besides James Madison and William and Mary were Villanova, Colgate, Duquesne, and St. Francis.

Dakosty expressed pride in Richards, stating his success came from hard work.

"Dominick is a prime example of what hard work and dedication does," said his high school coach.

The coach noted that Richards "gave up winter sports last year to get healthy and strong."

Academically, Richards is undecided on his major at the college. He said he is leaning toward studying something involving business.

He admitted that there was one other factor involved with him choosing James Madison.

"A close family friend, James McHugh, went there in the 80's and played football," Richards. "He definitely steered me in that direction."

In his senior year at Marian, Richards had 11 catches for 176 yards and three touchdowns.

Richards is already mentioned on the James Madison University football Web site under "recruiting day."

He's listed as a 6-6, 225 pound tight end from Marian High School (Tamaqua, Pa.).