BY JEFF FALK
SOUTH LEBANON – Sometimes in the face of difficult decisions, we search for signs to help guide us in the process.
In some small way, Evan Horn’s choice of his collegiate athletic pursuit was helped by the natures of the sports themselves. And in some small way, Horn’s decision was aided by the university itself.
But ultimately, the decision was Horn’s, one which he seems to have taken ownership of.
On Wednesday afternoon – universally known as ‘National Signing Day’ – within the confines of Cedar Crest High School’s LGI room, Horn chose football over basketball, and New Hampshire over a number of universities interested in his skill set. By signing a letter-of-intent to accept an athletic grant-in-aid to play football at New Hampshire, the Falcon senior, flanked by generations of his family, friends and well-wishers, officially made a decision about his future that he had been contemplating for months.
Horn’s college choice was just one of a number made by student-athletes across Lebanon County on National Signing Day. But his was by far the most notable and intriguing.
“I love football,” said Horn, a natural safety. “I had a real long list. But once I visited New Hampshire, I really didn’t have a preference. I just wanted to find a school that’s right for me.
“The coaches have been straight up honest with me,” Horn added. “The coaches have been there for me. It was an easy decision once I was able to meet all the guys.”
Horn entertained offers to play football from the likes of Bucknell, Temple, Villanova and Army, among others. He received one offer to play basketball, from Holy Cross.
At one time it was believed that Temple might allow Horn to try to play both.
“It means in football, you have more opportunities,” said Horn. “There are 60 roster spots in football. What is it in basketball? Like 15?
“With the options I had, you couldn’t go wrong,” continued Horn. “I just fell in love with the place. It was a great fit. It worked out.”
New Hampshire, a member of the Football Championship Sub-Division, competes in the Colonial Athletic Association, and plays teams like Rhode Island, Delaware, Richmond, William and Mary, Colgate and Maine. Last season, the Wildcats went 7-5 overall and 5-3 in the CAA.
New Hampshire graduated four senior safeties from that squad.
“Every year there’s going to be something new,” said Horn. “You’ve always got to stay on top of the game, all the time. The goal is to do your best. It’s going to be a bigger challenge playing football in college. It’s a bigger time commitment.
“Right now, it all depends on how my freshman year goes,” Horn continued. “There’s still a chance I could also play basketball. I definitely want to try it. But football is the reason I’m there. It’s going to be a lot of time, but I’m ready for it.”
“We had to address the secondary,” said New Hampshire head coach Sean McDonnell, on the university’s official athletic website. “I look at Horn and Lacy (Emmanuel, from Reading), two guys who are strictly safeties. Both of them have great upsides. Evan is a tremendous all-around athlete. He’s a terrific basketball player and a very good football player. He’s got great basketball and football IQ. But our safeties have got to tackle.”
Few who have come before him have impacted their school’s success on the gridiron and basketball floor the way Horn has. He is just one of a handful of Lebanon County student-athletes ever to have been offered Division One scholarships in both football and basketball.
In some ways, Horn has accomplished everything he can on the scholastic level. Now he will look towards the challenges of collegiate athletics.
“I definitely want to finish strong in basketball and move on,” said Horn. “Once track season is over, the mindset becomes ‘New Hampshire and football’. But I enjoyed the process. Near the end of my junior year, I had that ‘live’ period, and that was fun because I didn’t have to make a decision at that time.
“I want to thank my coaches for believing in me from Day One,” Horn added. “I’d also like to thank my teammates for never letting me slack off.”
On this day, Horn was flanked and joined by classmate and teammate Raymie Ferriera. Ferriera, an athletic tight-end, committed to Delaware State, where he will major in physical therapy.
At the same time across town, Annville-Cleona High School conducted a similar ceremony to announce the college intentions of four senior student-athletes – Matt Light, Emma Lerchen, Alec Barr and Lucas Bush.
Light will be taking his soccer talents to Division Two California University of Pennsylvania, and Lerchen committed to playing softball at Penn State-Harrisburg. Bush will play football at Division Two Millersville, while Barr will compete in baseball at Lehigh Carbon Community College.
And at Palmyra High School, lineman Prestyn Crawford also committed his football talents to Millersville.