Cam Shorey thought his football playing days were over after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee while a sophomore at Calais High School.
Turns out it was just the beginning.
Shorey, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound tight end and defensive end, on Monday made a verbal commitment to accept a full athletic scholarship to play football at the University of New Hampshire beginning next fall after making an official visit to the Durham, N.H., campus over the weekend.
The current two-sport athlete at nearby Phillips Exeter (N.H.) Academy will formally accept that relationship during the NCAA’s National Letter of Intent signing period for football that begins Feb. 1.
“After I got hurt I didn’t really see myself playing football again,” said Shorey, who was named to the New England Preparatory School Athletic Council all-star team last fall for his play for the Big Red during his return to the sport after a two-year hiatus. “I was focused more on basketball because after the injury I thought at that point a noncontact sport would be better.
“But I really missed football, and getting back out there this year was just great.”
Shorey also mulled scholarship offers from the University of Maine and Villanova and held out hope for a late offer from Boston College before choosing to continue living and studying in New Hampshire and play tight end for the Wildcats, like Maine and Villanova a member of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision’s Colonial Athletic Association.
“I went down to UNH pretty open-minded about all the schools,” said Shorey, who plans to enroll in New Hampshire’s business school. “But the people at UNH, from the staff to the players in the program now and the other prospective players, were all great people, my kind of people.
“Then when I met with my positional coach (tight ends coach Brian Barbato) and he told me what I’d be doing on offense it really sealed the deal. It didn’t seem like there was any reason not to go there.”
Shorey was scheduled to make an official visit to Maine this weekend and then visit Villanova the weekend of Jan. 28-29 but said his visit to UNH made those subsequent trips unnecessary.
“Villanova wanted me to play defensive end and I wasn’t too excited about that,” said Shorey. “UNH and Maine both wanted me as a tight end, and I’d been to Maine a couple of times before and it’s a great school that was high on my list, but I’ve been in New Hampshire for the last couple of years and I like it down here.”
Shorey, who began playing football at age 9 in Canada, will follow in the footsteps of his father, Kevin, who played tight end at Columbia during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
But such a connection seemed unlikely a couple of years ago, when his designs were more on playing college basketball like older brother Cal, a forward at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.
Shorey’s knee injury, suffered late in the 2008 high school football season, forced him to sit out his sophomore year of basketball at Calais and his junior year of football before he returned to basketball during the 2009-10 season and earned second-team Bangor Daily News All-Maine recognition after leading the Blue Devils to the Eastern Maine Class C championship game.
Shorey then transferred to Phillips Exeter, where he was “reclassified” as a high school junior with an eye toward enhancing his chances of playing Division I college basketball.
Under prep school reclassification, transferring students typically repeat a year of high school to better prepare themselves for college, but in Shorey’s case that move was made just as much to enable him to regain the year of high school athletics he lost when he suffered the torn ACL.
After playing basketball during his first winter at Phillips Exeter, Shorey put together a personal video of his football and basketball highlights and sent it out to numerous college football programs around the country.
Shorey received almost instant feedback from a variety of Division I programs, and soon his athletic priorities changed.
He attended several collegiate football camps last summer, then joined the Phillips Exeter squad this fall where he made an immediate impact — not only on his team but on coaches from throughout the NEPSAC who selected him to their all-conference team.
“Playing football here was great,” said Shorey, who now is in his second season with the Phillips Exeter basketball team but has been nursing a case of patellar fasciitis in recent weeks. “There are a lot more kids on the football team than there are on the basketball team, and I made some great friends and connections that have really helped me.”
Shorey will join a UNH football program that has made eight consecutive trips to the NCAA postseason, the longest current streak among FCS schools nationally. Coach Sean McDonnell’s Wildcats lost at Montana State 26-25 in a second-round playoff game last fall to finish with an 8-4 record, good for 11th place in the final TSN FCS Top 25 poll.