Introducing the 2005 Class: Thomas Altieri

The relationship between a coach and a player is a bond that sometimes runs much deeper than meets the eye. During a recruiting process, a relationship isn't only formed with the prospect, but also with his family. A perfect example is Thomas Altieri, whose brother Tony played for Dirk Koetter's staff at Boise State. The offensive lineman was already familiar and comfortable with the current Sun Devil coach and his staff, an aspect which convinced Altieri to don the maroon and gold this fall.

Thomas Altieri mentioned that Arizona State's safeties coach Dan Fidler familiarity with him and his family, provided instant comfort when the Sun Devils were pursuing him a couple of years ago. "In my junior year we played Torrey Pines and upset them, and Coach Fidler was at that game," recalled the 6-2 280 Altieri. "I knew him from before because he recruited my brother Tony when he was at Boise State. We were already acquainted, so it was more like catching up on old times instead of getting to know each other."

The ASU coaching staff was naturally very familiar with this football family, which also includes Mike Altieri who followed brother Tony to Boise. Thus, when they realized the talent Thomas had, they wasted no time making their recruiting pitch. "ASU offered me at the end of my junior year, and they were my first offer" the 2004 all-region PrepStar postseason lineman stated. "It made a huge difference for me, and it was probably on my mind the whole time during recruiting. They knew what I was capable of, and were confident in me as a player. They showed me through out the whole process how much they wanted me." Other schools showing strong interest were obviously Boise State, as well as Washington, Oklahoma, and San Diego State."

Despite the fact that the Sun Devils were the leader for his services for several months, it wasn't until Christmas Day, where Altieri revealed his decision to his family and the ASU staff. "I really wanted to make sure that it was the right decision for me," he explained the reason behind his timing. "After it was all said and done, I thought about it and came up with more reasons to go to ASU than anywhere else. It came down to ASU and Boise State. I really wanted to play up there and live with my brother. It was a tough decision, but I wanted to go somewhere where I can get better exposure and play against better athletes."

When one analyzes the innovative and explosive Sun Devil offensive, it's very easy to see why quarterbacks and wide receivers would salivate to play in this scheme. Altieri claims that offensive linemen are also among the positions that would be licking their chops to be part of an offense such as ASU's. "Everybody on the line is like a chain linked to each other," he explained, "and everybody is moving together like a unit. It's not like you're just an individual out there. Everybody is moving on the same track and on the same page. You don't have a large margin for error and it's lots of fun playing that way."

Altieri, who captained his C.I.F. Division I co-champion high school team, feels that his physical and mental attributes are suited to play center in this offensive minded system. "The skills that come in handy are my communication with my teammates," he commented. "I know that the offense is really based on the center and they'll expect me to make the right decision. You're the leader, and the center's blocking is key for everything we do. I have to be alert to everything that's happening, and not have a brain fart out there (smile)."

"I play better against the run, but I'm confident in my pass blocking," Altieri continued. "I have good footwork, which is very important. I have good leverage, and that's huge because I'm not the tallest lineman out there."

Altieri, who was a first-team All-C.I.F. selection, played in the esteemed CaliFlorida high school all-star game. Not only did the center feel privileged and excited to be part of this event, but he also realized the other benefits that this contest provided. "It was a great experience, and probably the closest thing I had to playing in a college game," he explained. "The way we prepared, the schedule we had to stick to…it was very organized. It really helps you break down things and know what to expect at the next level."

Little did he know that the player lining up underneath him was going to be a future college teammate. "I got to play with Derek Shaw and it was a good experience to see what kind of quarterback we (ASU) will have in the next couple of years," Altieri remarked. "He knew I was committed to ASU, and I didn't know he was thinking about going there. But after the game he called me up and started asking me all these questions, and then I realized that he was serious about going there. I'm happy he's at ASU, and it will be fun lining up with him."

A California all-state center snapping the ball to a fellow all-state quarterback in 2007? The imagination of the Sun Devil followers is already running wild…

Recruit Profile


Thomas Altieri

High School

Vista (Vista, Cailf.)







Date of birth



Vista, Calif.



Favorite TV show

"The Simpsons"

Favorite movie

"Forrest Gump"

Favorite singer/band


Favorite food

"Anything Italian and anything Samoan (smile)."

Favorite drink


Favorite athlete

"My brother Mike – he's very exciting to watch. He plays outside linebacker at Boise State."

Favorite pro team

"Washington Redskins"

Person you most admire

"My great grandfather on my dad's side – Papa Nick. He grew up in the depression, and got by his hard work and dedication."

First football memory

"My first year in Pop Warner – I was six. I remember being out there on my first day with my brother Mike and my cousin Matt. My dad and uncle were the coaches."

One thing most people don't know about me

"I'm quick to give without expecting anything in return."

Why did you choose ASU?

"Pac-10 Football."

Where do you want to be in ten years?

"In the NFL. If that doesn't work out I'd like to be a history teacher and coaching at my alma mater."

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