By Phil Anastasia
Familiarity bred comfort for Ed Shockley.
The Millville High School linebacker committed to Villanova on a football scholarship on Thursday night for a variety of reasons -- his relationship with the defensive coordinator, his regard for the quality of the program and the school's academic reputation.
But Shockley cited another reason: Villanova's tradition of recruiting players from the Cape-Atlantic Conference.
"I like the idea of going someplace where I'll know some people and where people from here have been successful," Shockley said. "That definitely was a factor."
Two other seniors in the Cape Atlantic League, Hammonton wide receiver Alex Padovani and Holy Spirit linebacker Jeff Steeb, have committed to the Wildcats.
The Wildcats' current roster includes former CAL players such as Joe Sarnese (Holy Spirit), Chris Gough (St. Augustine), Craig James (Oakcrest), Justin Rhinesmith (Middle Twp.) and Nico D'Angelo (Holy Spirit).
The 6-foot-1, 218-pound Shockley was a first-team All-South Jersey selection last season. He led Millville with 110 tackles and also registered five sacks with two interceptions as the Thunderbolts went 8-3 and reached the South Jersey Group 5 semifinals.
Shockley also had offers from Bryant, Monmouth and New Hampshire.
Shockley said he visited Villanova three times. He was there for Junior Day in March, for a camp in the summer and for the team's game against Maine in the fall.
He said he has developed a good relationship with defensive coordinator Bill Crocker, who also coaches the linebackers.
"They're great every year," Shockley said of Villanova. "They are always in the mix. I love the campus. It's a great school. I knew it was the place for me."
A top student, Shockley said he tentatively plans to major in sociology with a minor in business.
Shockley also is a top wrestler, with a 12-0 record at 195 pounds this season.
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