Inside linebacker Nick DeNucci (Pope John XXIII/Wayne, N.J.) already held three offers, but he called his latest look from Maryland Feb. 13 “huge.” The 6-foot-1, 225-pound junior had been in touch with UMD linebackers coach and area recruiter Matt Barnes, and when the assistant finally anted up, DeNucci was ecstatic.
“Maryland was a big offer for me. They just had one of the top recruiting classes in the country in 2017, and they are really getting known because of it,” DeNucci said. “Their staff is all over the place, and they have the program on the up-rise. They’re becoming a big program, and I’m sure they’re going to have a big year with the guys they have coming in.”
DeNucci had been in contact with Barnes via Twitter, but Feb. 13 they had an extended conversation on the phone. The Pope John product learned more about Barnes as a coach and person, as well as the Maryland program.
“Coach Barnes told me that Maryland is a great school academically and athletically and how I’d like it down there. He said the coaches like how I play and they want to get me down there this spring for a visit,” DeNucci said. “Coach Barnes said they’d love to introduce me more to the program since I’m just starting to learn about it now. But from what I’ve heard, it’s a really nice place and a great place to go to school. I’m getting down there for a practice or a game.”
Beyond what Barnes has imparted, DeNucci didn’t know much about the inner-workings of Maryland. That said, his linebackers coach is a Maryland alum, who has already put a plug in for his alma mater.
“Cole Farrand is my coach here, and he played at Maryland for four years and went to Pope John,” DeNucci said. “That’s pretty cool, and he said it’s a great school and the opportunities there are great. So I’m going to take a closer look at Maryland.”
Before Barnes and the Terps anted up, DeNucci had offers from Rutgers, Boston College and Syracuse. He’s already visited all three, and next he has Pitt on Feb. 18 and Temple on Feb. 20. Both the Owls’ and Panthers’ staffs have shown interest and are expected to offer.
“I really liked all three schools I’ve seen so far. Rutgers, Syracuse and BC were all nice, and I really like all the coaches,” DeNucci said. “But I really don’t have any leaders yet or anything like that. I’m just sort of waiting to see what comes in and who contacts me and then go from there.”
DeNucci went on to say he has no dream schools or offers he’s hoping for. He said he “just loves football” and will vet each and every opportunity he’s presented.
“But I will say academics are huge. That’s a big factor for me,” he said. “And relationships with coaches are big too, and seeing what the players think about the program and the staff. Those are some main things I’ll be looking at in a school.”
The Jersey native does not have a definitive timeline for selecting a school, although he allowed he’d like to end his recruitment prior to his senior season.
DeNucci is coming off a season where he recorded 122 tackles, 93 solo tackles, five sacks and two forced fumbles.