Staples High School football coach Marce Petroccio beamed like a proud father. Three players had just firmed up offers to play Division I football, and the longtime football coach with the tough exterior couldn't contain his enthusiasm.
Mike Nicklas signed with Wofford College in South Carolina. Chris Coyne and Pat Murray will remain teammates at Yale . The three players joined three soccer players at a Westport news conference Thursday to make their college selections official.
"It says a lot of the success of players, the football program and their families,'' Petroccio said. "These kids have worked their tails off to get where they are. I think it also says something about the school and the academics here. I don't know if you can get a better education for your buck."
Nicklas, Coyne and Murray have been part of a Staples football team that went 9-2 last fall before losing in the first round of the Class LL tournament. The Wreckers went 12-1 when the players were juniors, falling in the Class LL championship game.
At Wofford, Nicklas will be attending a college that reached the quarterfinals of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. The Terriers went 10-3 before falling to Georgia Southern, 23-20, in the quarterfinals. Nicklas was a three-year starter on the offensive and defensive lines at Staples. He is one of 13 recruits for Wofford, and the only from Connecticut.
Coyne and Murray will play for coach Tom Williams at Yale, where the Bulldogs went 7-3 last year and 5-2 in the Ivy League. Both players were key members of the Wreckers, and Petroccio is glad they're staying to close to home. "I know I can get in the car and drive up for a practice or to go visit,'' Petroccio said. "That and the fact you can put Yale at the end of your degree is a good thing to have on your resume. It's a win-win for everybody."
Petroccio said several other players also made their college choices. Tyler Jacobs, Chet Pajolek and Greg Lewis will attend Amherst. Rob Gau will go to Trinity, and Julian Gendels will attend Union. Robbie Herman will play spring football at the University of Pennsylvania, while Matt Yeager will attend Colgate to play lacrosse.
"I am a proud father,'' Petroccio said. "I wish these kids nothing but the best."
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