Austin Taps put off his college recruitment during the football season to focus on a potential championship with his Stepinac teammates. Now, less than a month after a tough loss to St. Anthony's in the CHSFL final and a Turkey Bowl victory over rival White Plains, Taps' recruiting saga is over.
Austin Taps is headed to William & Mary.
"I went out there for an official visit this past weekend, and I loved everything about the school and the football team," Taps, the 2011 MSG Varsity Hudson Valley football player of the year, said. "I made the decision on the spot, and cancelled my other college visits."
Taps had visits lined up at Division 1-AA schools and Ivy League schools such as the University of Pennsylvania lined up, but knew right away that William & Mary was the place for him.
"It was really about the coaches and the team," Taps said. "They're all great guys, they have the same goals as me. They want to win a championship."
Taps will have some familiar faces around Williamsburg, Virginia. His brother Tim is currently a junior, and running backs-coach Brendan Nugent is a former Stepinac football player.
"My brother has had a great experience at William & Mary and is excited that I'm joining him, but he would have been happy with whatever choice I made," Taps said. "I actually didn't know Coach Nugent until this process started, but I talked to him today and he's really excited that a Crusader is coming down there."
Taps had one of the best defensive seasons in the Hudson Valley this year with 85 tackles and 10 sacks. He also caught 22 passes at tight end to go along with four touchdowns. William & Mary recruited the 6-foot-5 235-pound star to play on the offensive side of the ball.
"I was being recruited to play both sides of the field by different schools, but the William & Mary coaches think I'll make a good tight end," Taps said. "I didn't care either way, if they asked me to play middle linebacker, I'd do it."
William & Mary is a tough academic school with a good football reputation. The Tribe have made the Division 1-AA semifinals multiple times in recent years including conference championships in the tough Colonial Athletic Association.
"This is a really happy time for me and my family. I'm definitely excited for the next chapter in my life, and ready to set new goals," Taps said. "I hope to earn a starting position as soon as I can."
"I'm really just hoping to be the best student-athlete that I can be," Taps added. "If I do the best I can academically and athletically, I know I can have the same type of career I had at Stepinac."