In addition to being a physically talented guy and an intelligent guy, Mark Pyles is a loyal guy.
In short, if you believe in and trust in Mark Pyles, he will believe in and trust in you.
It worked out pretty well for the Lebanon High football team this fall. Now Bucknell University is going to get to give it a shot.
Pyles, the Cedars' quarterback/linebacker extraordinaire, officially became a member of the Bison football team on Thursday, verbally committing to join the Patriot League program for the 2014 season.
The 6-foot 200-pound Pyles, who will play inside linebacker at the collegiate level, informed local media members of his decision via e-mail Friday, culminating a lengthy and complicated yet extremely simple recruiting process that in many ways began and ended with Bucknell, the only program to officially offer him a scholarship.
Many other schools -- including Dartmouth, Army and Colgate -- were interested and/or close to making an offer. But Bucknell and head coach Joe Susan were there first and never went away after making their pitch to Pyles earlier in the fall.
"I'm very happy with my decision," Pyles said, following LHS boys' basketball practice Friday evening. "I've been up to Bucknell multiple times and I love it there every time I go.
"Bucknell being the first offer I received, that definitely held a place in me. Their coaches are sending me letters every week, I'm getting calls from them every week, and that's really the only school that's been doing that consistently. And I love it up there. It was a very easy decision."
The choice to pursue Pyles was presumably an easy one for Bucknell as well.
While leading Lebanon to only the second district playoff berth in its history, Pyles turned in one of the great -- maybe the greatest -- statistical seasons in county gridiron history.
Offensively, he was incredibly prolific, throwing for nearly 3,000 yards and 32 touchdowns while rushing for 1,100 more and tacking on an additional 16 TDs on the ground.
Despite rarely if ever coming off the field, Pyles' production on defense was equally mind-boggling, as he racked up 139 tackles in 11 games despite being the focus of many an opposing blocking scheme.
"Just the things he did are unheard of," LHS head coach Gerry Yonchiuk raved. "He goes 1,000 miles an hour every snap. What will be exciting is to see what he can do when he's just playing one side of the ball. I still thought they should take a look at him at quarterback with what he did this season, but I think he'll be a heck of a linebacker at Bucknell."
Pyles, also a star in the classroom and ranked at the top of Lebanon's Class of 2014, was typically modest and low-key when discussing his individual accomplishments, quickly deflecting credit to his teammates. But when talk turned to what the Cedars accomplished collectively this past season, going from 0-10 in 2012 to the playoffs this time around, his demeanor brightened considerably.
"This will be with me for the rest of my life," he said. "All four years, but especially this last year. How we came together and how we turned around the program, that will stick with me for life."
And as Yonchiuk can attest, when Pyles speaks like that it comes from the heart.
"What you see is what you get with Mark," he said. "There's nothing phony about him."
And clearly, Pyles' decision to attend Bucknell is consistent with Yonchiuk's words.
"Bucknell has been consistent and loyal to me, and I'm ready to be loyal to them," Pyles said. "I can't wait to get up there. I just can't wait."