Inside Recruiting: Players tell their stories

Cherry Hill West's Harrison Hand ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff

B eing recruited to play college sports can be a fantastic, nerve-wracking, eye-opening, stressful time, and athletes in all sports in both southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey traditionally attract major-college recruiters.

Here are some of their stories from both sides of the Delaware River:

Still waiting

Stephen Sturm is putting up eye-popping numbers again as the Perkiomen Valley quarterback.

Going into Friday night's Pioneer Athletic Conference Liberty Division matchup against Boyertown, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior had connected on 87 of 127 passes (68.5 percent) for an area-high 1,446 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Despite his impressive efforts, Sturm, who last season threw for nearly 3,100 yards and 31 touchdowns, is still waiting for his first scholarship offer.

"He's probably an inch too short and 10 to 15 pounds too light to be the prototype QB prospect for a lot of college coaches," Perkiomen Valley first-year coach Rob Heist said.

Heist said Sturm, a southpaw and third-year starter, has drawn interest from a trio of Division I-AA schools: Bucknell, Lafayette, and Lehigh. Division II programs Bentley and West Chester are also in the mix.

"I think some people are afraid to coach a lefty quarterback," Heist said. "That's because it takes a while for your wide receivers and running backs to get used to the ball coming from that direction."

Sturm's father, Ken, was the head football coach at Overbrook, of the Philadelphia Public League, from 1999 to 2010.

- Rick O'Brien

Team before college

Cherry Hill West senior defensive back Harrison Hand, a four-star recruit by rivals.com has 14 offers.

He's in no hurry to commit.

In an era when most four- and five-star recruits make their decisions long before the start of their senior season, Hand is content to take his time.

He hasn't even decided where he will take his official visits.

"I'll take care of that after the season," Hand said. "I'm concentrating on helping the team."

Hand has offers from, among others, Boston College, Virginia Tech, Pitt and Maryland as well as local schools Temple and Rutgers.

Cherry Hill West coach Brian Wright said Hand, who was invited to Nike's The Opening for the nation's top prospects in July, has drawn interest from programs such as Ohio State and Alabama although he doesn't have an offer from the Buckeyes or Crimson Tide.

Wright said the 6-0, 180-pound Hand is "at a different level" and has been timed in the 40-yard dash in 4.29 seconds, which is faster than most of the NFL's speediest players.

"He knows the game, too," Wright said.

- Phil Anastasia

Best fit

Imhotep senior point guard Daron Russell committed to the University of Rhode Island ahead La Salle and Grand Canyon University.

Of the other two choices, one had familiar ties, the other familial.

Russell's bond with Rams coach Danny Hurley, and an up-tempo style, won his allegiance.

The Explorers were the local school in the mix. Coach John Giannini was seen frequently at Imhotep games last season. Grand Canyon is home to Russell's brother, DeWayne, a senior point guard for the Antelopes.

In the end, Russell said he chose the best fit for himself.

The 5-foot-11 guard who can score in bunches has also developed into a leader and facilitator. Russell won the Public League's Division A MVP in 2015 and led the Panthers to a Public League title as a sophomore.

After losing to eventual Pub champ Del-Val in the playoffs, and eventual state champ Neumann-Goretti, Russell is focused on ending his Imhotep career with multiple championships.

- Aaron Carter

Looking at options

Matt Fahey is playing in his final soccer season for the Williamstown Braves and has high expectations for the team.

He is one of two captains, anchors the defense and is also a playmaker to spark the offense.

Fahey is looking to continue playing at the next level and has started to break down his options. He expects to meet with his club coach to discuss what school are in the mix, and he said Pittsburgh and Coastal Carolina have made contact. He also said he plans to email Delaware and is considering Rutgers, Stockton and Rowan.

- Patrick Paul

Together again?

Caitlyn O'Sullivan and Ra'Ann Mercier are senior field hockey players at Timber Creek, and both play crucial roles on the team

O'Sullivan is a defensive midfielder who also helps push the ball up offensively. Mercier is a true defender who specializes in not allowing opponents behind her for clean looks at the goal.

Both girls have options for college, and they may even end up on the same team.

"I am definitely looking at schools like Montclair and Rowan," O'Sullivan said. "I have been in touch with the Rowan coach, but I'll see where it goes."

"I think I am going to play at Montclair State or go to Temple," Mercier said. "I would not play at Temple but just go there. But I think I am going to play at Montclair."

- Patrick Paul