Vincent Valentine realizes he's closing in on the end of a long process.
Within a week the Edwardsville senior defensive tackle will have made a commitment to a college football program and signed his national letter of intent.
"I'm definitely very eager to get this over with," he said. "It's been going on for a while, two years or three years or so. It's just been hectic the last few months. I've been ready to make my decision. I wish I would have known where I wanted to go so I could have done it earlier. I'm trying to enjoy it the most that I can because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."
The No. 2 prospect on the Post-Dispatch Super 30 list, Valentine has narrowed his options to three — Nebraska, Florida and Illinois — and recently finished with the last of his official visits.
"This decision is definitely going to be tough," he said. "It was going to be tough either way. I really like all three schools. They all bring a lot of great qualities to the table."
Valentine took an official visit last weekend to Illinois, where he was able to spend time with head coach Tim Beckman and the new coaching staff. Valentie said he enjoyed himself. Of course, he also enjoyed his visits to Nebraska and Florida.
Next for the big defensive tackle is to figure out where he wants to go.
"I think I just have to weigh all of my options," Valentine said. "I want to sit down with my parents and put everything out on the table and ask for their opinions. I really want to get this done."
The plan is for Valentine to make a decision within the next week and then make that decision public at a ceremony at Edwardsville on Signing Day next Wednesday.
ST. LOUIS U. HIGH PLAYERS MAKE PLEDGES
It was a long recruiting process for St. Louis University High's Trevor McDonagh, but in end the senior quarterback found a great fit with Columbia University in the Ivy League.
"I'm looking for a great education, and football gave me opportunities at places that I wouldn't really have been able to go," he said. "Columbia is definitely that. The coaching staff there, they just got a lot of new coaches, a lot of guys from the NFL. Their head coach is Pete Mangurian, and their offensive coordinator is Ben McDaniels. Those are the two main guys. The offense they run is perfect for me. It's exactly what I wanted. The coaches also, they are great guys. I really got to know them. They want what's best for me. It's a great fit."
McDonagh, who threw for 3,440 yards and accounted for 36 touchdowns during his senior season, narrowed his decision to a pair of Ivy League schools, Penn and Columbia, and visited both. His visit to Columbia, which is located in Manhattan, was his first time going to New York City.
"It was awesome," he said. "A lot of people are scared of the big city and kind of getting lost in it, but I think it's awesome. There's always something going on. The guys on the team and the guys at the school are great. It's a lot like SLUH guys, is what I kept thinking. So I fit in well there. It seems like it will be a lot of fun to go to school and play football there."
McDonagh's teammate, running back Terek Hawkins, has made a commitment to Division II Washburn, SLUH coach Gary Kornfeld said.
Hawkins was SLUH's leading rusher as a junior and senior. He racked up 1,311 yards and a team-high 20 touchdowns this fall as SLUH went 9-4 and advanced to the Class 6 semifinals.
MCCLUER NORTH'S JONES TAKES VISITS
McCluer North senior defensive tackle Keith Jones has narrowed his decision from five schools to three.
"My top three are Grambling, Tennessee-Martin and Marshall," he said.
An All-Metro first-team selection, Jones also was considering scholarship offers from Kansas and Murray State, but those schools underwent coaching changes and decided to go in different directions with recruiting.
Jones enjoyed his recent visit to Grambling, where his father played on the defensive line in the early 1990s and where he still has family connections.
"It was fun," he said. "I liked it. My sister goes there. I've got a few family members down there. One of my family members owns the chicken place on campus."
The next step for Jones is to take his final two official visits. He is scheduled to visit Tennessee-Martin this weekend and then possibly head to Marshall after that.
O'FALLON STANDOUT MAKES COMMITMENT
O'Fallon senior running back Ejay Johnson made a verbal commitment to Division II Arkansas Tech this week, according to coach Brandon Joggerst.
Johnson has been one of the area's more productive players the past two seasons. He rushed for 1,411 yards and scored 19 touchdowns as a junior and had 1,344 rushing yards and 30 total touchdowns as a senior.