Camden sophomore wide receiver Corey Palmer is one of South Jersey’s top football players in the class of 2021.
But as of early January, Palmer won’t be a South Jersey player anymore.
Palmer said on Wednesday that he plans to transfer to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and play for the private school’s national-caliber football program.
“I’m excited and nervous,” Palmer said at Camden’s signing day ceremony. “It was a hard decision to make but I feel like it’s the best thing for me and my future.”
Camden coach Dwayne Savage is supportive of Palmer’s decision.
“They’re going to have him on their national team,” Savage said. “They have a national team and a state team that plays only schools in Florida. They want him on the national team.”
On Wednesday, IMG had 19 players sign with Power 5 college programs, including running backs Trey Sanders (Alabama) and Noah Cain (Penn State).
The school’s Varsity Blue team, which Palmer will be joining, plays a national-caliber schedule. This past season, IMG played games vs. Mater Dei of Santa Ana., California as well as Liberty of Henderson, Nev., plus Alabama 7A state champion Hoover and Pennsylvania 6A state champion Pine-Richland.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Palmer caught 26 passes for 504 yards and seven touchdowns last season, as Camden went 10-2 and finished No. 5 in the Inquirer’s final Top 25 ranking. Palmer also returned an interception for a touchdown.
Palmer is following in the footsteps of former Camden lineman Cesar Ruiz, who left the city after his sophomore season to play at IMG.
Ruiz was the starting center for the University of Michigan this past season.
“Cesar was the first person I contacted,” Palmer said. “He said it was tough to leave Camden, tough to leave the coaches and teammates.
“But he thought it made him a better player and a better person.”
Palmer said it will be hard for him to leave Camden and his family.
“I’ve been dreaming about playing for Camden High since I was in Little League,” Palmer said. “But I think it’s the best thing for me.”
Wiliamstown senior J.C. Collins, a first-team All-South Jersey selection who led the Braves to the South Jersey Group 5 title, was left without a college destination when Massachusetts pulled its scholarship offer, according to Williamstown coach Frank Fucetola.
Collins, a quarterback/defensive back, had committed to Massachusetts in the spring. But the Minutemen’s coach, Mark Whipple, was relieved of his duties in November.
The program’s new coach, former Florida State offensive coordinator Walt Bell, opted not to honor many of the scholarship offers by the previous staff, according to Fucetola.
“It’s an ugly situation,” Fucetola said. “J.C. committed in the spring so all the other schools backed away.”
Fucetola said Collins is hopeful of landing at another school and signing in February, the second signing period. New Hampshire is a possible destination for Collins.
Group 1 champion Penns Grove, which last season became the first team in South Jersey history to finish 13-0, has added an interesting game next season.
The Red Devils will play North Jersey Group 3 power River Dell Sept. 28 at noon in Penns Grove.
River Dell has made six straight North 1 Group 3 sectional finals, winning titles in 2016 and 2017. The Golden Hawks are 29-6 over the last three seasons.
“Great program and great test for us,” Penns Grove coach John Emel said.
Bishop Eustace and Camden Catholic have agreed to play Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. on Irish’s field.
Camden Catholic dropped its scheduled ‘Zero Week’ game with Rancocas Valley, so the Red Devils are looking for a game.
Camden will not play Wise, Md., again this season, according to Panthers coach Dwayne Savage. So the Panthers are looking for a game as well.
St. Joseph is another program looking for a ‘Zero Week’ game. The Wildcats play at Hamden Hall (Conn.) last year but will not play that team again.
St. Joseph coach Paul Sacco said the school is looking at the possibility of a matchup with a Philadelphia Catholic League team.