SL's Del Priore earns award
Mike Feifel/TIMES NEWS TIMES NEWS area football players that attended the Lehigh Valley Scholar-Athlete banquet were, from left, Lehighton's Max McCandless, Pleasant Valley's Brandon Leap, Northern Lehigh's Nick Buresh, Palmerton's Austin Cook, Northwestern's Jacob Najarian, and Jim Thorpe's Michael Rodgers.
NORTHAMPTON When all was said and done, Southern Lehigh's Jacob Del Priore's résumé stood above everyone else's.
During Sunday's National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame 54th Annual Awards Dinner at Northampton Community Center, Del Priore was named the scholar athlete amongst 34 high school student-athletes.
Del Priore, a wide receiver and safety on the Spartans' football team, put together a track record that was as impressive as any candidate. He ranked 12 out of 280 students in his class and accumulated a 4.2 GPA at Southern Lehigh.
To go along with his class ranks, Del Priore is a member of National Honor Society, an Honor Roll student, a National Merit Scholar and earned First Team selections in football at both the conference and state levels. He is also the Honor Society Treasurer, Libertarian Club Vice-President and a member of the Key Club, Varsity Club and Young Americans for Freedom Club. He volunteers with a number of organizations, including Pennies for Patients, Food for Friends, Mircale League and Cops for Kids.
"I was a little surprised," Del Priore said. "Once I heard him reading off some of the attributes, I figured, 'Hey, I've done some of those things.' Once he said National Merit Scholar, I knew it was me. A huge smile came out. It is such an honor."
For his accomplishment, Del Priore will be awarded with a monetary scholarship over four collegiate years. He plans to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and major in chemical engineering. He's also interested in playing football, and he will be eligible for a national scholar athlete scholarship as well.
"It's a validation of all the work I've put in over the years," Del Priore said. "It's a great way to represent the community, and I'm proud to represent my team this way."
In addition to the 34 high school scholar athletes recognized, six collegiate athletes were also acknowledged as scholar athletes: East Stroudsburg's Robert Bleiler, Kutztown's Matt Connors, Lafayette's Brad Bormann, Lehigh's Cody Haupt, Moravian's Julian DiGiacomo and Muhlenberg's Chris Litzenberger.
Lehigh University football head football coach Andy Coen was chosen as the ceremony's guest speaker. He provided insight to the scholar athletes on wisdom, courage, humility and keeping one's life in perspective. He also mentioned a famous prayer from Reinhold Niebuhr that stood out to Del Priore.
"That quote hit home," Del Priore said. "To be able to recognize what's important in life. The last line especially regarding wisdom, that's something that I feel I do well. When I know I can't change something, I don't let it bother me. I keep working on what I can change."
As a group, the high school scholar athletes averaged a 3.8 GPA, an SAT score of over 1700 and all ranked in the top 50 percent of their class, with many ranking much higher than that.
"It's fantastic talking to all of these players," Del Priore said. "They're all so accomplishedthe 34 high school and six collegiate athletes. Just talking about the things that we're into. It's such an honor to be selected amongst that prestigious of a crowd."
Del Priore helped lead the Spartans to a co-league championship with Catasauqua in the Colonial League this season. He finished his career as the Colonial League's all-time leader in career receptions.
"We were fortunate this year," Southern Lehigh head football coach John Toman said. "We had a bunch of leaders, but Jacob was the kingpin of leaders on the team."
A number of TIMES NEWS area athletes were recognized as scholar athletes at the ceremony as well: Jim Thorpe's Michael Rodgers, Lehighton's Max McCandless, Northern Lehigh's Nicholas Buresh, Northwestern's Jacob Najarian, Palmerton's Austin Cook and Pleasant Valley's Brandon Leap.