Franklin Regional (Murrysville, Pa.) linebacker Brett Zanotto knew he wanted to be a Terp ever since he visited College Park, Md., for the first time June 7. He deliberated a bit in making his decision, but when crunch time came around, he didn't hesitate.
"I just called Coach [Randy] Edsall and told him I want to be part of the Maryland family. He was happy for me and told me he's looking forward to working with me in the future.
"We all know what the situation was," said the 6-foot, 215-pound Zanotto. who chose UMD over offers from Syracuse, Boston College, UMass and Toledo. "Maryland just got another inside linebacker commitment [June 19] in Gus Little, and I didn't want to miss the boat. Maryland was such a great opportunity, and I had to jump at it. Maryland was everything I was looking for in a college, so I had to take the opportunity."
Zanotto held SU in high regard, but he was riding the UMD bandwagon after visiting June 7. Not only did he have a chance to learn from inside linebacker coach Keith Dudzinski at the camp, but he and his grandparents truly enjoyed interacting with the staff, touring the campus and learning about the program.
"When I went down there I knew it was the right fit. The way the coaches and the people there treated my grandparents – taking them around in a golf cart and making sure they were OK, that just meant so much to me," Zanotto said. "Everyone was so friendly there and they took care of us, and showed genuine love. That meant so much to me.
"And I knew I wanted to be there, and after they got that other commitment [June 19], I just didn't want to miss the boat. It was where I wanted to be all along. The opportunity was too great to pass up."
While at the June 7 camp, which was Zanotto's first time in the Old Line State, he had worked personally with Dudzinski. Moreover, he got to speak to area recruiter Greg Studrawa, head coach Randy Edsall and several other staff members. He had visited a few other campuses prior to heading down to College Park, but he said no staff measured up to Maryland's in terms of how they treated him, how they took care of their players and how enthusiastic they were about the school in general.
"Coach Stud was awesome. He's such a great guy to talk to," Zanotto said. "He told he wanted me to be a Terp from the outset, and we've talked on the phone about so many different things. Like, he won't just talk to you about football, but he'll ask you about your personal life, what you're up to, and all that good stuff. I felt really comfortable with him, and honestly it's the same with all the coaches there. Everyone I met at Maryland was so easy to get along with. It's like a real family program there, and great football and academics on top of that. How could I say no?"
Zanotto could not stop raving about the Maryland staff. He had visited several schools, but evidently the Terps' coaches just had that "it" factor that resonated with him.
"You know, every school has good facilities, every school can tell you what they offer athletically," Zanotto said. "But Maryland, it was different. The coaches just care about you. They care about you in the classroom, off the field, and on the field.
"They're so nice, and yet they push you to get the most out of you. They're high energy, excited about the program and they love working there. I could tell that just being around them. There's so much to get out of that staff at Maryland."
Besides the instant bond he formed with the staff, Zanotto said Maryland's academics separated the Terps from other institutions. He wants to major in marketing and said there are plenty of opportunities for him in the D.C. and Baltimore areas.
"With Under Armour, there are so many chance to advance and have a career," Zanotto said. "There's a ton of marketing opportunities. I definitely want to pursue that and get into that field of study. My mom researched the school, too, and she loved it . We all think it's a great fit."
The chance to play in the Big Ten is another opportunity he couldn't pass up. Zanotto grew up watching Big Ten ball, so when presented the path to play against that type of competition, well, he didn't want to let that pass by.
"The Big Ten is an awesome conference, one of the best in college football," Zanotto said. "There's no way I could pass that up. No way. with schools like Penn State and Ohio State there, I'm very excited to play against them."
The Murrysville backer said he's purely an inside linebacker and envisions himself in the Cole Farrand role. He said he's a physical, hard-hitting defender who comes downhill and can finish a play. Zanotto still needs to work on his pass coverage, but for what UMD wants him to do – defend the run and put running backs on their rear – he's all set.
"Believe it or not I studied Patrick Willis of the 49ers. I like to play like him with how physical he is and how he takes charge of the defense," said Zanotto, who has been playing football since he was six years old. "I finish plays, I run sideline to sideline, and I love to stop the run. I have to work on my pass coverage, but I'll get there.
"Also, I want to be a captain, someone the defense relies on. That's who I want to be at Maryland. I want to be a leader at Maryland."
Zanotto is coming off a season where he recorded 157 tackles, 27 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
"Hopefully I can put up those kind of numbers at Maryland," he said. "Just know that I'm going to work, I'm going to play through the whistle, and I'm going to give everything I've got. Know that."
Zanotto Couldn't Pass Up UMD Opportunity
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