Rick O'Brien: Small school features big talent in Kaminoff

New Hope-Solebury's Julian Kaminoff (18) a tailback, free safety, and kick returner, has a pair of scholarship offers.
New Hope-Solebury's Julian Kaminoff (18) a tailback, free safety, and kick returner, has a pair of scholarship offers. (SCOTT NANGLE)
Posted: September 08, 2011

If you're good enough, they will come.

Julian Kaminoff is proof of that. Though he plays for New Hope-Solebury, a little-known Class AA program with only 32 players, the do-everything senior for the Lions has a pair of scholarship offers.

Kaminoff is not a 6-foot-5, 300-pound lineman with more potential than athletic skill. He is a 5-11, 180-pound tailback, free safety, and kick returner.

"He's got a special talent," New Hope-Solebury coach Jim DiTulio said. "I might not see a player like him again at this school for a long, long time. Maybe never."

The quick-footed Kaminoff, clocked at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, has scholarship offers from Division I-A Buffalo and Division I-AA Fordham. Several other schools, including Pittsburgh and Maryland, are keeping tabs.

"Deep down, I want to play at the highest level I can," said the 17-year-old, projected to be a defensive back in college. "But I'm open to anything right now."

After playing at the club and junior varsity levels in 2007 and 2008, respectively, New Hope-Solebury fielded a varsity squad in 2009, the school's first since the early 1930s.

In their inaugural season, the Lions were outscored by 277-99 and went 0-9. They improved to 5-5 last year, with a 3-4 mark in the Bicentennial Athletic League.

"It's neat playing here," Kaminoff said. "It's a small school in a small town where everybody knows each other. With only 30 or so guys, we have to play hard and make the most of what we have."

Kaminoff started out playing for Central Bucks East, of the Suburban One League Continental Conference. As a ninth grader at Holicong Middle School, he earned a starting spot at cornerback. A question about his primary residence ended his career with the Patriots after only two games.

"My dad and I talked about me going to a bigger school with an established football team," Kaminoff said. "But I wanted to at least give playing here a shot. I felt like I owed it to the kids I've been playing sports with since I was young."

Last season, the erstwhile soccer player averaged 7.1 yards per carry and scored 16 touchdowns. In last Saturday's opener against George School, before the starters gave way to the second-teamers in a 38-0 romp, he carried seven times for 127 yards and a score.

"He's got great vision, terrific cutback moves, and he's deceptively strong," DiTulio said. "He's so careless with his body. He puts everything in it. That's why he gets dinged up so much."

Kaminoff's father, Rick, played tennis at Boston University. One of his three sisters, Nikki, now a junior at their father's alma mater, was once an up-and-coming gymnast. "People thought she had a chance to make the Olympics," Julian Kaminoff said. "She could do 1,000 pull-ups."

Kaminoff, with a vertical leap of 38 inches, has taken unofficial visits to Fordham, Pittsburgh, Temple, Connecticut, and Harvard. A trip to Buffalo likely is in the offing. "I want to at least go there and see what it's like," he said.

In a multiple-spread offense, New Hope-Solebury's other ballcarriers are running backs Tyler Nangle and Joe Dwight. Sophomore Connor Hayden is filling in at quarterback while senior Marco Maltese recovers from a torn labrum.

The Lions are banking on continued solid play from two-way linemen Chris Warden and Taylor Heiniman, center-middle linebacker Cody Foy, and tight end-linebacker Mitch McCollum.

"The kids realize now what it takes to be successful," DiTulio said. "If we stay healthy, we'll be fine. We have some athletic kids who can make plays."

Rick O'Brien: Inquirer State Football Rankings

Area teams in bold. Last week's ranking in parentheses.

Class AAAA

1. Pitt. Cent. Cath. (1) 1-0

2. La Salle (2) 1-0

3. Upper St. Clair (5) 1-0

4. North Allegheny (7) 1-0

5. Downingtown East (8) 1-0

6. Neshaminy (4) 1-0

7. Cumberland Vall. (6) 1-0

8. North Penn (3) 0-1

9. North Allegheny (7) 1-0

10. Council Rock S. (10) 1-0

Class AAA

1. Archbishop Wood (1) 0-1

2. Montour (4) 1-0

3. Allentown Central    

Catholic (2) 0-1

4. Bishop McDevitt (3) 0-1

5. Susquehanna Twp. (6) 1-0

6. Central Valley (9) 1-0

7. Valley View (NR) 1-0

8. Cathedral Prep (5) 0-1

9. Abington Heights (8) 1-0

10. Grove City (NR) 1-0

Class AA

1. West Catholic (1) 0-1

2. Lancaster Catholic (2) 1-0

3. Aliquippa (3) 1-0

4. Seton-La Salle (4) 1-0

5. North Schuylkill (6) 1-0

6. Lewisburg (7) 1-0

7. Trinity (5) 0-1

8. Tyrone Area (8) 1-0

9. Mount Carmel (9) 1-0

10. Beaver Falls (10) 1-0

Class A

1. Clairton (1) 1-0

2. So. Columbia (2) 1-0

3. Rochester (3) 1-0

4. Pius X (4) 1-0

5. Curwensville (5) 1-0

6. Stox-Rox (7) 1-0

7. Dunmore (8) 1-0

8. Springdale (9) 1-0

9. Farrell (10) 1-0

10. Schuylkill Haven (NR) 1-0

- Rick O'Brien

Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019, robrien@phillynews.com,

or @ozoneinq on Twitter.

Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019, robrien@phillynews.com, or @ozoneinq on Twitter.

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