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Manasquan junior tight end/linebacker Tanner Cowley announced Tuesday that he has verbally committed to the University of Virginia heading into his senior season with the Warriors.

"The combination of ACC football and the highest academics led me to a perfect fit at Virginia," Cowley said.

(Photo by Bill Normile)

Cowley also had offers from UConn, Rutgers, Buffalo, Bucknell, Elon, Fordham, and Monmouth University. He is the first member from a stellar Shore Conference Class of 2015 to make a verbal commitment to an FBS program. Other rising seniors with FBS offers include Red Bank Catholic linebacker/defensive end Jamie Gordinier and lineman Ryan Kroeger, the Barnegat trio of quarterback Cinjun Erskine, linebacker Manny Bowen and lineman Sam Madden, Toms River North tight end/linebacker Jordan Craig, and Lakewood running back Chapelle Cook.

A two-way standout for Manasquan, he had 75 tackles, a forced fumble, an interception, a sack and three pass break-ups at linebacker and also was a receiving threat at tight end. The 6-foot-4, 210-pound rising senior saw his recruitment dramatically pick up in the spring, starting with the offer from Bucknell.

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He returns as one of the top defensive players in the Shore Conference for the Warriors, who are coming off an 8-3 season in which they reached the South Jersey Group III semifinals. Virginia recruited him as a tight end and outside linebacker and will give him looks at both positions.