Don Bosco Power

With at least three four-star players on the defensive side of the ball, it's no surprise that Don Bosco HS (Ramsey, NJ) is one of the top high school programs in the country. Safety Elijah Shumate knew that when he needed to transfer schools. After following the unofficial school motto, it's no surprise that he has transformed into one of the top defensive backs in the country.

MADISON - With so much talent on the defensive side of the ball, it's hard for Elijah Shumate to not enjoy playing every game at Don Bosco High School in Ramsey, New Jersey.

"It's been so much fun with those guys, just going out and competing to the best of our ability every weekend," Shumate said. "We practice hard because playing with great players, you need to play hard and be even greater. The stuff we do on the field speaks for itself."

Don Bosco has no shortage of great players, but when one defense has five-star defensive end Darius Hamilton (ranked No.4 in the country by Scout), four-star cornerback Yuri Wright (ranked No.6 in the country) and Shumate (a four-star safety ranked No.7 in the country), it really is an embarrassment of riches.

Throw in three-star middle linebacker Mike Strizak and four-star wide receiver Leonte Carroo and it is easy to see why Don Bosco HS went 12-0 last season, won the New Jersey State Championship and finished No.3 in the country in the national rankings.

"We have that great chemistry together where we know we all have each other's backs and that nobody can beat us," Shumate said.

It can be argued that the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Shumate has been the biggest benefactor of playing on the Don Bosco defense. After Paterson (N.J.) Catholic announced it was closing in the summer of 2010, Shumate went through the recruiting process and landed at Don Bosco Prep., about 20 minutes from his home.

It was there that he saw a powerful defense with talented players that were going to test his football IQ and his toughness.

"I knew I was going to be playing with some great players and that I had to improve to my game if I really wanted to step on the field," Shumate said. "Everybody was pushing me, and it was different for me because I wasn't used to working hard. I became a hardworking person that just wanted it."

Shumate finished his junior season with 65 tackles, five sacks, two fumbles caused, two fumbles recovered and one interception, numbers also as big as his massive scholarship list. Shumate has over two dozen offers, having scholarships from schools like Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, Rutgers and USC.

It's been a challenge for Shumate to even make a top ten list, but he appears to have some time before he plans to announce him commitment on Jan. 7, 2012, when he is in San Antonio, Texas, for the U.S. Army All-American Game.

"I try to make a top ten, but I keep moving teams in and out and changing it up," Shumate said. "I just want to take a lot of visits to a lot of schools. Maybe around September when the season starts I will try to narrow it down."

Thus far, Shumate has visited Boston College, Colorado, Connecticut, Michigan, Rutgers and South Carolina, an impressive feat considering he and his family doesn't have a car. Shumate was originally planned to visit Wisconsin on April 23, a visit he had to cancel, but interest that is still there.

"Coach Huxtable and Coach Hammock has come up to the school and every time that they come to the school, they've told my coaches how interest they are in me and that they would like me to come and visit," Shumate said. "They aren't in my top ten at this point, but that's because I haven't visited them yet."

Even though Shumate hasn't visited the school, he's done his research. Citing the school's academics, facilities and the tradition, Shumate knows that the Badgers have things to offer.

"I look at graduation rate, APR, campus area, crime rate, everything I can get off the school website," Shumate said. "I try to look as many things as I can."

Without question, Wisconsin is a long shot to land any of these East Coast players, but the Badgers do have a slight edge in the fact that they've offered all three of Don Bosco's top defensive players, three guys that are good friends and have talked about playing college football together.

"We talk about it a lot, actually, and we tell each other about different schools, like what we thought of a visit and if it's worth going out there to check it out," Shumate said. "If it happens that we go to the same school, that would be great because there will be someone there I can trust and I can play next to a great player. If it doesn't work, they'll still be my boys."

Over the next several weeks, Shumate will try to iron out what schools he can visit, eyeing visits to possibly North Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin.

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