Calabrese Is In Elite Company

In the ten years Lou Racioppe has been the head coach at Verona (N.J.) High, only two players have started on the varsity as a freshman. The first was current Dallas Cowboy and former Notre Dame tight end Anthony Fasano. The second, Carlo Calabrese.

Like they showed early interest in Fasano, Notre Dame has Carlo Calabrese on its radar as well. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker is getting plenty of mail stamped with the Golden Dome. Penn State, Boston College, North Carolina, Alabama, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Wake Forest are also a slew of the schools flooding the 2009 prospect's mailbox.

"I know Penn State is very interested in him," Racioppe said. "I know Boston College is very interested in him. I know we've sent film to a lot of schools."

Virginia, Northwestern and Rutgers have also come by Verona, and Calabrese is still waiting for his first scholarship offer.

Calabrese didn't have to wait long to find out he wouldn't be playing with his classmates that fall three years ago.

"He came in as a freshman, and it took two days of practice to notice he was a Division I player," Racioppe said. "He had the size at first, and he moved well, and you could see how he attacked people. He was just on a different level."

That season, Calabrese led the team with 58 tackles, and added three sacks from his linebacker position. Verona went 10-2 that season and advanced to the state championship game. Before the title tilt, the Hillbillies lost their starting quarterback, and Calabrese stepped in as the starter.

"He got to play quarterback in Giants Stadium as a freshman, and did a pretty good job," Racioppe said.

Unfortunately, Verona was beat by Hoboken, 21-6.

"It wasn't that nerve racking," Calabrese said. "I didn't get that nervous I don't think. I started at linebacker the whole year, so I knew how it felt to play. I just stepped in and did what I was supposed to do."

Calabrese missed four and a half games with a broken wrist as a sophomore, but still made 53 tackles with 2.5 sacks. He also recovered four fumbles, and caught four touchdown passes as the team's tight end.

This past season, Calabrese was almost more productive than his first two years combined. He racked up 104 tackles, 34 of those coming for loss with six sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions.

Colleges have taken notice.

"He's extremely strong," Racioppe stated. Calabrese bench presses 300 pounds, squats 400 pounds, and runs a 4.7 40-yard dash. "He's very quick and mobile. He really just has natural instincts for the game. One of the things I've been impressed by, is he can manipulate his body through the holes and then just get himself into such great tackling position.

"He's got a real good work ethic. He's a very determined athlete. He just brings a lot of energy to the game. He's brought big things to us so far and we're hoping for big things out of him as a senior."

Calabrese also played quarterback this fall, rushing for around 800 yards.

"He was a lot like Tim Tebow for us," Racioppe said. "He improved throwing the ball as the season went on. We're going to get a lot of offensive mileage out of him next year, but he's going to play defense in college."

Though it's early in the recruiting process, Calabrese listed Notre Dame, Boston College and Penn State as his three favorites. He has been on all three campuses, and has also visited Rutgers.

Calabrese is really good friends with Fasano's younger brother, and went to a game with the family while Anthony was playing. He made a return trip this season for the Michigan State game.

"I liked the tradition," Calabrese said. "I saw the sports center, the weight room, I liked that everything was old, classic.

"I like that they've been a good team, and that they're going to have a good team I think. I like the coach, Charlie Weis."

Weis met with the recruits visiting that weekend as a group, and Calabrese got some one-on-one time with linebackers coach Brian Polian.

"It was pretty much just talking about the team and the linebackers and what they run," Calabrese said.

Calabrese wasn't sure of his GPA, but said he's an honor roll student. He also wasn't sure what camps or combines he was going to attend this spring and summer.


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