BERLIN- On National Signing Day, two standout Stephen Decatur football players this week signed letters of intent to play Division I football and continue their educations next season.
On Wednesday, Decatur star running back D.J. Kee officially signed a letter of intent accepting a scholarship offer to play football next year at Lehigh University. Sitting at the same table, Decatur’s standout offensive lineman Nick Craven, who was largely responsible for opening the holes for Kee, signed his own letter of intent accepting a scholarship offer to play next year at Bucknell University. Ironically, Lehigh and Bucknell both play in the Division I Patriot Conference.
Kee, a first team All-Bayside selection following his senior year last fall, led the conference with 1,675 rushing yards after rushing for over 1,600 yards in his junior season. He also scored 24 touchdowns in 2011 and represented Decatur at the Maryland Crab Bowl, a showcase of the top senior players in the state for recruiters.
Kee was a catalyst on offense for the Seahawks and a leader on and off the field. He said this week the decision to pick Lehigh was an easy one because of its rich football tradition and its strong academic reputation. Coach Bob Knox said the Lehigh coaching staff liked Kee’s versatility out of the backfield.
“It really is a perfect fit for me,” he said. “It’s a good football team with a great history and the program wins a lot of games. On top of that, it has a great reputation academically, so it made the decision an easy one.”
Kee will enter Lehigh after completing his senior year at Decatur and hopes to get an opportunity to contribute to the football program right away.
“After visiting the campus and meeting with the coaches, I really can’t wait to get up there and get started,” he said. “I’m anxious to get out on the field. I’ll probably have to be patient in terms of getting involved in the offense right away, but I’m hoping to get out there on special teams right from the beginning.”
Craven, meanwhile, has been a stalwart on Decatur’s football team for the last few years, playing on both the offensive and defensive lines. He was named first team All-Bayside on offense in each of the last two years and was also named All-Bayside first team on defense one time. Craven, who mainly played offensive tackle for the Seahawks could be switching positions next season at Bucknell.
“The Bucknell coaches really liked the fact Nick can play just about every position on the offensive line and they’re already considering moving him to the all-important center position,” said Knox.
Knox praised both of his former players now moving on to play at a high level at Division I schools and also pointed out their new teams will face each other for years to come.
“These two kids are the perfect example of hard work yielding success,” he said. “As an added bonus, Bucknell and Lehigh play in the same conference, so these two will be staring at each other across the football field a couple of times a year.”