Introducing the 2005 Class: Zach Catanese

Sometimes the recruiting process starts as a one-way street. A prospect can be interested in a school long before the program he covets contacts him. Such is the story of safety Zach Catanese who talked to DevilsDigest about his unpredictable path of becoming a Sun Devil.

"The two schools I really wanted to go to were Arizona State and San Diego State," said the 6-3 215 Zach Catanese. "When Arizona State came into the picture, I kind of knew that this is where I wanted to go before they even invited me for a trip. My brother (former Oregon State safety Brandon Catanese) wished that he came here, and when I visited I knew I was making the right decision." Ironically, Zach's father Paul was recruited by legendary Sun Devil football coach Frank Kush, but ended up playing Baseball for the Minnesota Twins, before playing quarterback at Tulane.

The All-American from Shasta College was recruited by ASU's quarterbacks coach Mark Helfrich, and the Devils were not adversely affected being that they were literally the last school to contact the safety. "They called my coach and asked if he had any good safeties down there," Catanese recalled. "My coaches said that he actually did, and sent them some film on me. This all happened just a couple of weeks before my recruiting trip to ASU (which was only days before he signed his letter of intent). It was pretty quick" Even though Catanese committed on his trip, he did reveal to DevilsDigest in a previous interview that because of an illness, he didn't get the full experience of an official visit. Nevertheless, he was naturally impressed by the trip: "I loved the atmosphere. The guys on the team were real personable and were all after the same goal." Catanese also considered San Diego State, BYU, and Cal. Prior to his Tempe visit, he did trip to the first two schools.

Shasta College's captain and MVP did promote himself while in junior college sending out tapes and resumes to several schools. Looking back, he wished he had done the same earlier in his football career. "Out of high school, I didn't send out any game film so I really didn't help myself," stated Catanese. "I guess I just figured out I was going to junior college anyway (smile)." The decision to go to Shasta turned out to be a good one. Following his sophomore season, the safety was named all-state, all-NorCal Region and all-conference. During that season he collected 90 tackles, 39 assisted, 51 solos, two quarterback sacks, five interceptions, two blocked punts and 12 pass deflections. His versatility also showed on special teams where he averaged 28.7 yards per kick return.

"My strong points are that I cover the field very well, and have a nose for the ball," he said as he self-assessed his skills. "I can also come up and hit. I do need to work on not biting on play action, taking the right pursuit angle and keeping my head up when I tackle." Catanese was also a successful signal caller in high school, and he admitted that he does like some of the aspects that came with that role. "I miss playing quarterback," he commented. "It's a fun position and you have the game on your shoulders. You touch the ball on every down. But I like defense better. It's 11 guys going after one guy, instead of me being that one guy (smile)."

It's not uncommon to see players, such as Catanese, make the switch from quarterback to safety at the college level. He remarked that he also does see that correlation. "You usually want a safety to have some size, and quarterbacks are usually bigger than other players on the team," he said. "Quarterbacks tend to be smart, and at safety you're usually the last line of defense, so you have to make good decisions. The safety is the quarterback of the secondary, and second to the middle linebacker as being the quarterback of the whole defense."

Catanese is one of three ASU mid-year transfers who signed a letter of intent on December 15th of last year, and has been enrolled in classes this spring semester. How has the transition been so far? "Everything is real intense and structured," he explained. "I'm just getting used to the 12-hour days, workouts at 6 a.m. ASU is similar to my junior college, because mine was pretty big. The lecture hall has 300 students now, but mine was 150 at Shasta. So, it wasn't a big change like it may have been for others. But the campus is huge – you walk a mile between every class…It's rough and it was hard getting used to it, but now it's not that bad - having beautiful women on campus helps (smile)."

Rumor has it that Catanese has been a top performer thus far in the team's off-season conditioning program. He attributed some of that to good luck, but also acknowledged that, "I was always good at lifting, but I'm stronger now than when I first got here. The program is really good and has helped me a lot."

Prior to his first spring practice with the team Catanese admitted that he's experiencing a natural sense of apprehension. "I'm a little nervous because I don't know what to expect. The first day I just might do a lot of observing, so I don't jump into something without knowing what I'm doing."

Nevertheless, the safety doesn't sound like one who will wait for things to happen for him. He rather chart his own destiny. "I feel I have a great chance to play. It's really on me and how I do in spring ball. If I do well, I can see myself starting." Spring practice next week could go a long way in confirming that belief…

Recruit Profile

Name

Zach Catanese

Junior College

Shasta College

Position

Safety

Height

6-3

Weight

215

Date of Birth

3/27/85

Birthplace

Walnut Creek, Cailf.

Nickname

"Cat"

Favorite TV Show

"SportsCenter"

Favorite Movie

"Napoleon Dynamite"

Favorite Singer/Band

"Blink182"

Favorite Food

"Shrimp"

Favorite Drink

"Lemonade"

Favorite Athlete

"Doug Flutie"

Favorite Pro Team

"Chicago Cubs"

Person you most admire

"My father. He works hard at everything he does and inspires me. He always keeps my head on straight."

First Football Memory

"I remember watching my brother playing Pop Warner, just running around and scoring touchdowns. I was about five years old then, and watching him got me hooked on football."

One Thing most people don't know about me

"I'm kinda timid at first. It takes me a little time to warm up."

Why did you choose ASU?

"Program prestige and academics."

Where do you want to be in ten years?

"I want to be successful and around football, maybe coaching."

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