For West York lineman Brody Kern, the decision of where to spend the next phase of his football career came down to a "gut feeling."
On one side there was Delaware, a school with the reputation of being a perennial Division I-FCS contender.
On the other was Towson, an up-and-coming program located just down Interstate 83.
Kern loved both schools. He felt a connection with both sets of coaches.
"It came down to what place I enjoyed the most, where I felt comfortable," Kern said. "It was the toughest decision of my life."
On Sunday, Kern's gut led him to make a verbal commitment to the University of Delaware. The West York senior became the first YAIAA player from the 2013 class to commit to a Division I college.
Kern will join a program that has been among the most consistent in the country at its level. The Blue Hens went 7-4 last season, but have finished in the top 10 of the FCS (formerly Division I-AA) poll five times since 2000. That includes a national championship in 2003.
"It was definitely a big part of my decision," Kern said of Delaware's pedigree. "And it was tough because Towson is on the rise and they're going to be a great team in the future. But you can't top Delaware with all the trips to the national championship and everything like that.
"It's almost like the University of Delaware is the pro team of Delaware because there's no professional team there."
Kern will play center with the Blue Hens, the same position he has started at for West York since his freshman season. He has grown considerably since then -- from an undersized newcomer to a 6-foot-2, 270-pound powerhouse who can bench press close to 400 pounds.
"When I started my freshman year as a center for the high school team, at that time I didn't think I could play Division I football," Kern said. "(West York coach Ron Miller) was like 'You're going to get bigger, and you're going to play Division I football.'"
Kern said he knew during the last month his college choice would be between the two Colonial Athletic Association schools. Towson, which finished 9-2 last season and won the CAA title, became the first school to extend a scholarship offer to Kern last December. The Blue Hens followed with their own offer a few weeks ago.
Kern made one final visit to Delaware on Thursday. He called coaches from both schools Sunday to inform them of his decision.
"I said my goal was to decide where I'm going before the season," Kern said. "I want to go into my senior season without getting phone calls from coaches. I don't want to think about where I'm going to college when I need to be focused on Central York's defense or something."
Now Kern can devote his full attention to another season of high expectations for the Bulldogs. He figures to be a two-way pillar for a West York team coming of a 10-3 season and a trip to the District 3 Class AAA semifinals. In addition to his starting role at center, Kern also chipped in 27 tackles last season at defensive tackle.