“The more playing time we had, the more chances I had to show up on film, the more chances I had to prove myself,” the senior said. “As you keep playing, the spotlight gets closer and closer.”
With the lights at their brightest, Ceneus shined, too, earning MVP honors as the Huguenots won the Class AA state championship. His late push drew interest from a slew of Division I and II colleges and Ceneus snatched his first Division I scholarship offer Thursday when he committed to Villanova a day before his official visit.
“Jason put together a great senior season and that attracted interest,” coach Lou DiRienzo said. “Academically, he put himself in line to be accepted to Villanova, which is a great school.”
“This is what you work for,” Ceneus said, “a Division I scholarship.”
Villanova is in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-AA.
Albany, New Hampshire, Maine and Stony Brook had all been in pursuit of Ceneus as a cornerback and kick returner. Villanova was the first to offer. Defensive coordinator Billy Crocker visited Ceneus and his family at home on Wednesday. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound senior was receptive to the coach’s pitch, which swayed him despite never having visited the Philadelphia-area school.
In addition to his work on defense, where he led the Huguenots with four interceptions, Villanova expressed interest in Ceneus as a punt returner.
“We had a long visit, a long talk,” said Ceneus, who was a first-team Journal News all-star and second-team all-state in Class AA. “I felt real good about it talking to them.”
Ceneus is the first of the Huguenots’ senior stars to commit to college. Quarterback Khalil Edney and tight end/linebacker Joe Clarke both attracted FCS-level interest but have begun to pursue prep schools and junior colleges.
“They both had some I-AA interest, but another year of prep school will improve their lot academically and athletically,” DiRienzo said.