By MIKE HAINES
Cody Remaley probably could have gone to any school in the PSAC. Even some Division I schools would have given the Colonial League's all-time rushing leader a shot.
But instead of taking his talents to the biggest stage he could find, he wanted to find the right place. He found it two and a half hours away in Williamsport.
Lycoming College has everything he was looking for in a school and a football program.
"Even though it was the first school I visited, it was just immediate," Remaley said. "I felt a connection, a vibe that they wanted me to be a part of their program, their school, their tradition.
"I had plenty of opportunities to go to bigger schools. Division 1 or Division 2 is almost too big for me. [Lycoming is] a smaller school. I'll get to know the teachers. If I need help I can go ask them. I feel as if Lycoming is a very good fit for me."
He didn't want to get lost in the shuffle at a bigger school where the focus might be too much on football. Football is important to him, but so are academics.
"We were taught at Northern Lehigh that school always comes first," Remaley said. "If you don't have good grades you're not playing that week or not practicing. It was strict.
"Lycoming has the same thing Northern Lehigh has. If you're not doing good in school, you're not playing. That's what I like. I saw in Division 1 and Division 2 that they might slack a little bit. Here, in Division 3, they know what kind of grades you're getting."
Remaley visited a few PSAC schools (Kutztown, Bloomsburg and Clarion). When he narrowed it down, four Division 3 schools were on his short list, including Lycoming, Delaware Valley, Moravian and Lebanon Valley.
On a recruiting visit in January, Remaley made friends with Lehighton grad and one of Lycoming's top offensive lineman, Cody Moyer, who let him know through calls and text messages just how much the team wanted him.
"He really helped me to make my decision," Remaley said. "He was saying 'The guys can't wait for you to come here. They really want to block for you.'"
Unlike a lot of high school athletes, Remaley wasn't thinking about scholarships from the moment he started playing sports. He didn't use his athletic ability as a means to an end. He played for a love of the game, the competition and the team atmosphere.
After successful sophomore and junior seasons, he started getting recruiting letters and knew he would play college football somewhere.
He said the recruiting process was trying. He spent a stress-filled month weighing his options before finally making that phone call to tell the Lycoming coach he made his decision.
"At one point I wasn't thinking about not even playing football," he said. "I was like 'I'll go to LCCC for a year until I figure out what I'm doing.' I was in a very agitated mood for a while."
When he finally made his decision, a weight came off of his shoulders and he was back to being the stress-free, laid-back person he's always been.
"It was a huge relief," he said. "My mom heard me on the phone when I was committing. She came over and gave me a big hug and said, 'Finally this is over.'"
Remaley also liked the fact that Lycoming's offense is based on running the ball, just like the system he's played in the last four years. The Warriors graduated their top running back this season in Josh Kleinfelter.
An honorable mention D-3 All-American, Kleinfelter rushed for 1,212 yards last season on 216 carries. That accounts for more than half of the Warriors' 400 attempts. No other back ran for more than 93 carries or 379 yards.
Remaley will likely get a chance to earn some playing time this fall or even replace Kleinfelter as the primary ball carrier.
Remaley doesn't expect to get handed the ball without proving himself, but if given a chance he is ready to earn his place on his college team after rushing for 6,555 yards in high school, including 2,322 yards and 39 touchdowns last season.
"If I get that opportunity like I did when I was a freshman in high school, I will take as much advantage of it as possible," he said.
While Williamsport is a long ride from Slatington, it's just a half an hour from his family's cabin in Sullivan County.
"My whole family said they'll be up there every Saturday," he said. "It's like I'm going to be away from home, but I'm going to be home."
Remaley plans to major in criminal justice.