TOWSON, Md. - Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha safety Michael Coley, the 15th rated player in Maryland and the 66th ranked safety in the nation, made his college decision at the second annual Crab Bowl on Monday evening at Towson University's Johnny Unitas Stadium.
During the first quarter of this all-star game between the best of Baltimore and the best of Washington, D.C., Coley stood on the sideline, grabbed a microphone and said he was California Dreamin'.
"I'm going to be a California Bear," said the 6-foot-2, 207-pound Coley. "It's been a long, hard process, but I feel like I made the right decision. I'm hoping it turns out to be the right one and rewards me in the future."
Back on Dec. 3, Coley narrowed his list to five schools: California, Wake Forest, Michigan, West Virginia and Maryland. Coley admitted that all five schools had great football programs. But what ultimately separated Cal had more to do with academics than athletics.
"Cal stood out because when I went out there they showed me what kind of education I'd be getting," Coley said. "That really mattered to me and my mom. Cal is a good school and the opportunity for a great education. It's one of those schools where I can come out of, be successful and set an example for my family."
Of course, Cal has a perennial top 25 football team, too.
Coley said he's intrigued by the possibility of playing on national TV in front of a raucous Pac-10 crowd.
"Being a Cal Bear means that every day you're working for a national championship," Coley said. "You're out there on the West Coast, a lot of people are looking at you and you're expected to be one of the top schools every year. It's exciting; it's a challenge I'm looking forward to."
Coley's other options were all from colleges east of the Mississippi. But he ultimately chose the one school farthest away from home. Just don't expect him to get homesick.
"Being that far away will make me grow up even more," Coley said. "I won't be able to call my mom and tell her to come out here every time I have a problem. "
Despite being just one piece in a top 25 national recruiting class, Coley feels he can stand out. In fact, he's confident he can make an immediate impact as a freshman.
"I think if I work hard and do what I have to do I feel like I can do some damage right away out there," Coley said. "I'm ready for anything."