Jake Kern has always been a hometown kid.

The Northern Lehigh senior has no intention of leaving that feeling behind when he departs Washingtown Township for college this summer.

He recently chose a to attend a college over 200 miles away, Colgate University, but he chose it because the Hamilton, NY, campus felt like home.

"The main reason I chose Colgate is just because they have a hometown feeling up there," said the 5-foot-10, 175-pound running back/receiver/safety/return man.

Yesterday afternoon, Kern signed a letter of intent to play football and attend the Division I-AA school, which competes in the Patriot League.

Kern received offers from Muhlenberg, Lebanon Valley and Lycoming, but the Red Raiders' football program struck most close to his heart.

"It has that family atmosphere throughout the entire campus," said Kern, who plans to major in biology with intentions of possibly pursuing a career in physical therapy. "I just like the town and everything about it up there. It's a good academic school and a great football program.

"This is just a great feeling just to know that I'm going to a school like that a prestigious school. It's a great feeling to know that I can actually move on to the next level and play."

Kern had a break out senior year. He rushed for 986 yards and 15 touchdowns on 82 carries, according to TIMES NEWS statistics.

He caught 20 passes for 326 yards and five touchdowns. He efficiently ran the Bulldogs' version of a wildcat offense, completing two passes, both for touchdowns.

Defensively he was just as active, making 65 tackes, five interceptions and four fumble recoveries. He was a threat to score every time he touched the ball. He had several touchdowns on punt, kick and interception returns.

If Kern plays defensive back college, his position coach will be former TIMES NEWS player of the year Stan Dakosty, the Red Raiders secondary coach and recruiter for this area. Dakosty attended some of the Bulldogs postseason practices and liked what he saw.

"I really think him having the chance to see Jake practice," said Tout, "the way he practices and what he's capable of doing, it helped [Dakosty] say, 'We'll take him as a wideout and take him as a safety or a corner. He can definitely play for us."

Kern admitted Dakosty had a "big impact" on his decision and that he "was there every step of the way."

Tout added that Dakosty "was just sincere throughout the process. With the connection he has to the area, he just likes to get so many kids to Colgate because he knows how the families are here and how good the football is."

Kern was named First Team All State last fall and was part of a District 11 and Colonial League championship team. Maybe the best assets he will bring to the Red Raiders is the work ethic and team work that were insitlled coming up in the Bulldog program.

"I will definitely take everything Coach Tout and our coaching staff taught me throughout practices and games over the years," Kern said. "But, most of all, I will take that family aspect of the sport and more than just playing as individuals.

"We have to come together as a team through unity and everything like that. You have to play for one another, not just for yourself."