This wasn’t the offseason Kyle Fontes expected to have.
After a number of game day visits to Division I colleges last fall, he was looking forward to lots of campus trips, football camps and — hopefully — a number of scholarship offers.
Instead, he found himself putting together recruiting videos and dealing with the same uncertainty that all high school athletes have faced over the past five months due to COVID-19.
Now, Fontes can relax a little.
The Central York senior tight end picked up his first Division I offer from Bucknell last Friday. He also received an offer from Division II Lake Erie College.
“There’s definitely a sense of relief, especially during a time when you can’t go to the camps you expected to go to,” Fontes said in a phone interview Monday. “To have the security (of having offers) is awesome.”
Located in Lewisburg, Bucknell is an NCAA Division I FCS program competing in the Patriot League. The Bison went 3-8 last season under new head coach Dave Cecchini. The Patriot League canceled all sports this fall due to the ongoing pandemic in July.
Fontes said he’s been in contact with Bison offensive coordinator Jason Miran for a while and has been sending him workout videos since the coaching staff wasn’t able to see him train in person this summer. He plans to visit the school this weekend.
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Fontes is the fourth player on Central York’s roster to earn a Division I offer, along with junior quarterback and Penn State commit Beau Pribula, senior offensive tackle Josh Gaffney (eight offers) and senior receiver Taylor Wright-Rawls (St. Francis). Other seniors like Judah Tomb and Jack Smith have also gotten attention from Division I programs.
The offers could keep coming for Fontes, who had game day visits to Harvard, Princeton and Villanova last year and has also gotten interest from Monmouth, Stony Brook , Cornell, Columbia, Colgate and Holy Cross. Fontes said he carries a 3.7 GPA and wants to study economics in college and is interested in a career in business or law.
The earliest Fontes can sign with a program in Dec. 16, but with so much up in the air due to the pandemic, he said he doesn’t have a concrete timeline on a decision.
“I’m just trying to control what I can control and put in the work,” Fontes said. “Things are obviously different right now, but you’ve got to keep working hard, even when you’re on your own.”
More: ‘I’m confident in my decision:’ Central York quarterback Beau Pribula commits to Penn State
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More: ‘A next level kid:’ Central York offensive lineman earns first Division I offer
Making friends through football
Fontes was born outside Denver and lived in Colorado as a child before a move to Katy, Texas when he was in elementary school.
He spent a few years playing youth football in the same school district as Katy High School, which has won eight state titles and produced longtime NFL quarterback and current Dallas Cowboy Andy Dalton.
“Moving from Colorado to Texas was a massive culture shock,” Fontes said. “Everything in Texas was being built up and in football we trained really hard from fifth grade on. We always had coaches who had been at the NFL level and some of my best friends there are going to all these big college programs now.
“It helped me realize what really good talent looks like and it elevated my game a lot.”
Fontes moved to York in the seventh grade when his father took a top job with supply chain company ES3.
He said Pennsylvania reminded him more of Colorado and he adjusted pretty quickly. It didn’t hurt that he was able to meet a lot of kids in the Central York School District by playing sports.
“Playing football helped a ton with making friends,” he said. “Training camp was a good time to get to know people and sports helped me connect with them.”
While Central York’s 2020-21 graduating class was already being touted as a potentially dominant team in middle school, the group lacked a quarterback. A linebacker who also played quarterback in Texas, Fontes immediately filled the role of signal caller for the group.
But it was never going to be easy for him to start behind center in high school.
That’s because Central York had two of the greatest quarterbacks in league history around him in brothers Cade and Beau Pribula. Cade set numerous York County passing records and now plays for Division I Delaware after graduating in 2019. Beau became the YAIAA’s most-recruited player in recent memory before committing to Penn State earlier this month.
So Fontes found a new role as a tight end/defensive end who could also serve as backup quarterback. He started two games at quarterback last season when Pribula injured his shoulder and made a number of big plays in blowout wins over New Oxford and South Western.
Then-Central York head coach Josh Oswalt said at the time that Fontes was good enough to start at quarterback for most high school teams in the state and could play the position in college.
Fontes said he never minded being a backup quarterback since it was best for the team that he focus on other positions. He credited Cade for helping “shape my game” with his knowledge and lauded Beau for being “a special athlete on an elite level.”
“He just super selfless,” Oswalt said of Fontes last season. “He’s fun to coach. After a tough practice or game he’ll come up to me and say, ‘Thanks for everything coach.’
“His ceiling at defensive end or tight end is so high.”
Fontes was a second-team YAIAA coaches all-star at tight end last season and also got playing time on the defensive line. He caught 10 passes for 113 yards for a 9-2 Panthers team that dominated the regular season and didn’t throw the ball often.
His combination of size and athleticism have made him an attractive player to colleges and new Central York head coach Gerry Yonchiuk, who said at YAIAA football media day that the senior could be poised for a big season. Fontes said he put on about 30 pounds of muscle this offseason and will likely bulk up to around 240 or 250 pounds to play tight end in college.
“He’s a force,” said Yonchiuk. “He can be nightmare matchup for linebackers.”
Fontes has worked with Yonchiuk at football camps at Spooky Nook since he moved to York, and credited the head coach for giving him stability throughout the recruiting process.
He’s hoping more of his senior teammates get the same opportunities as him, and that Central York’s highly-talented team gets to play its entire season this fall.
“Every day at practice we try to build each other up and send as much positivity as we can,” Fontes said of his teammates. “There is a lot of uncertainty but I hope a lot of my senior friends get these offers because a lot of them can. I’m just trying to be as positive as I can.”
Matt Allibone is a sports reporter for GameTimePA. He can be reached at 717-881-8221, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @bad2theallibone.
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