HEISER: York-Adams athletes learn that bigger isn't always better when choosing colleges
- Spring Grove grad Dalton Rohrbaugh is transferring from Lock Haven to York.
- York High grad Khalid Dorsey is transferring from Howard to Shippensburg.
- New Oxford QB Brayden Long chose D-II Slippery Rock over D-I FCS offers.
Status does not always bring satisfaction.
Prestige does not always bring peace of mind.
Bigger is not always better.
For some folks, those are lessons that take a lifetime to learn.
Some local athletes, however, seem have to grasped those concepts at a young age.
That’s become apparent in recent weeks.
Several former or current York-Adams League standouts have recently announced some life-changing decisions about their college careers.
Those young men have chosen to give up the prominence of playing for NCAA Division I programs. Instead, they’ve opted to commit to D-II or even D-III teams.
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In the process, they’ve also left behind the expectations, demands and pressures that come with competing at the D-I level.
Hopefully, they will each find contentment competing at smaller, but still highly competitive, schools.
The Rohrbaugh decision: The latest athlete to make such a choice was former Spring Grove High School wrestling standout Dalton Rohrbaugh, who has elected to leave the D-I Lock Haven University program and transfer to D-III York College.
Rohrbaugh didn’t leave because he couldn’t compete at the D-I level. He proved that he could hang with D-I foes last season as a freshman for the Bald Eagles, when he went 20-14 and won a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference title at 133 pounds.
Instead, he says he left Lock Haven to move closer to home, but mostly, because the demands of cutting weight to the 125 class had sapped his passion for a sport that he grew up loving.
“Whether I’m wrestling Division I or Division III, I only got two years left of it,” Rohrbaugh said. “I’m not going to the world level; I’m not doing the Olympics. I’m not that guy. I might as well go somewhere I’m going to be happy.”
Sounds like a young man who has his priorities in order. Lock Haven’s loss should certainly be York College’s gain.
Long, Dorsey opt for PSAC: Rohrbaugh is certainly not alone in making that type of decision. New Oxford quarterback Brayden Long and former York High star running back Khalid Dorsey recently faced similar choices.
Long, who is Adams County’s all-time passing leader, chose to bypass D-I offers from Football Championship Subdivision schools Marist and Central Connecticut State. Instead, he committed to play for D-II power Slippery Rock.
“The level of play between Division I FCS and Slippery Rock is very, very similar,” Long said. “I’m not going to let the level that it’s classified as define it. … I would take Slippery Rock football any day over an FCS program.”
Like Rohrbaugh, Long seems to know exactly what he wants out of his college experience.
Dorsey, meanwhile, chose to leave a D-I FCS Howard program that, quite honestly, can only be described as dysfunctional. He now plans to play for D-II Shippensburg.
Howard endured a tumultuous season in 2019 under first-year head coach Ron Prince, finishing 2-10. Prince resigned after the season when the university opened an investigation into allegations of verbal abuse and player intimidation. Nearly 20 Howard players joined Dorsey in looking to transfer since the beginning of last season.
Like Rohrbaugh, Dorsey didn’t leave Howard because he couldn’t hang at the D-I level. He did have some success with the Bison as a freshman in 2018 under a different head coach, averaging more than 6 yards per carry. He even earned the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Football Rookie of the Week honor in October of that year.
Now, both Long and Dorsey will compete in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference next season. Yes, the PSAC plays at the D-II level, but the football is still of a very high quality. Frankly, the difference between good PSAC programs and lower-level FCS programs is negligible.
Final analysis: In the final analysis, the I, II or III that’s listed beside the division really matters very little. Few college athletes, at any level, will extend their sports careers beyond college.
Instead, young athletes should make college choices based on the best fit. Even for athletes, there must be more to the college experience than just competing in sports. Education and environment are probably even more important factors.
Contentment, after all, comes in many forms and can be found in many places.
Hopefully, Rohrbaugh, Long and Dorsey will find big success at smaller schools.
— Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.