Dante Sparaco talked with BuffStampede.com on his car ride up to Boulder on Thursday morning. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound early enrollee will sit through compliance meetings, find out where his spring semester classes are, and get other logistics out of the way before beginning classes at CU on Tuesday.
“It is exciting, a dream come true. Ever since I was a little kid, I have wanted to be a college football player and today it is finally here,” he said.
Sparaco used the criticism he received for leaving Cherry Creek last summer as fuel going out to IMG Academy. He beat out other power conference commits for a starting role on the defensive line, and shut up doubters by staying solid in his pledge to the Buffaloes.
“I definitely feel like I accomplished what I set out to accomplish at IMG,” Sparaco said. “I got to go against college talent every day, not only in the games, in every practice, too. I learned how to manage my time when we were traveling. We went out to California, spent two days in Louisiana. You learn how to talk to you teachers when you come back.
“So it was a good experience to go down there and get in a college-like environment a semester before I even really get started. Now going to CU, this spring, I am going out to play. I am going to try to learn the defense and see if I can contribute to the team this year.”
Sparaco moved to Colorado with his family when he was in sixth grade. His semester out in Florida also helped him gain even more appreciation for his home state.
“The beaches in Florida are great but I missed hunting and fishing, which I grew up doing and you can't really do out there. And I love the mountains,” Sparaco said. “The humidity in Florida was kind of rough. There are certain things about being back home that you just miss and will always stick with you. So being able to spend at least four more years back here is going to be awesome.”
Redshirt freshman outside linebacker Pookie Maka will be Sparaco's roommate this spring. His aunt is a Chiropractic Neurologist, which piqued Sparaco's interest growing up. He plans to pursue a degree in Neuroscience at CU.
Between the lines, It has yet to be determined exactly what Sparaco's role will be at CU, but it expected to be on the defensive side of the ball.
“We are still talking a little about whether I will play the five-technique or be an outside linebacker like Jimmie Gilbert's role was,” he said. “Where the team needs me and where I best fit will probably be decided during spring ball.
“It is good to know, though, that I can focus on one side of the ball. Before I went down to IMG, there was talk about me potentially playing on either side of the ball. Now, I am not worried about switching back and forth between offense and defense. I can just set my mind on being a defensive player.”
Sparaco played both as a strongside and weakside defensive end in a 4-3 scheme during his senior season at IMG Academy. You can watch his senior season highlight reel below: