Motta's A Big Hit

This is how Vero Beach (Fla.) High head coach Gary Coggin remembers it.

"I'm pretty sure it was the playoff game, and we're going against a passing attack, against a kid named Star Jackson," he began. "We also played against them during the regular season. A real talented player. We just decided we'd get his attention."

No better time for that, then on the game's first play. Coggin called on standout safety Zeke Motta to do the job.

"We had a safety blitz and Zeke is coming from 10 yards deep," Coggin continued. "After the contact, and you hear it, you start looking for body parts. It was a violent collision where the whole stadium went whoo.

"They ran a draw play, and it was Jackson or the back that got hit. I couldn't really tell, but it was a big bang."

Vero Beach eventually won the game.

Hits like that come on a regular basis. Since the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Motta was promoted to the varsity as a sophomore starter, he's been laying the wood.

"It feels good," Motta said of the on-field collisions.

So does receiving college scholarship offers. Motta isn't sure of his total amount, but he currently has between 25-to-30 full rides to consider, coming from programs like Florida State, West Virginia, Rutgers, Wake Forest, Stanford, Pittsburgh, and Auburn, where his father Bill played.

Another school that recently began to show interest is Notre Dame. Motta will check out the Irish campus for the first time in June when he comes in for camp.

"I think that it's a really good mix of great academics and great football, and they'll probably be on the rise soon, maybe looking to have a national championship," Motta explained. "I think it's the mix of football and academics, that and the campus, I can't wait to see it. I hear good things about it."

This past fall, Motta was named to the class 6-A First-Team All-State squad after registering 143 tackles and two sacks. With his 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash, Motta also had one interception, four fumble recoveries and blocked five kicks.

Notre Dame assistant coach Bernie Parmalee has been by the school to watch Motta practice this spring, and has also been in touch with both Zeke and his father.

"We don't have an offer from them yet, and Zeke is going up to their camp," the elder Motta said. "That is definitely one of his top choices. If it works out, that's good. If it doesn't that's okay too. We just want to make sure we get a good fit and Notre Dame gets a good fit."

Motta said he isn't leaning towards one particular school at this point.

"I talked to (coach Parmalee) on the phone and he said he was very interested, and he talked to my Dad and said something like we'd like to have you come up to the camp and stuff, and get a chance for our head coach to look at you and maybe come up with an offer then.

"I'm very interested. Definitely one of my top choices right now. I can't wait to get up there and see what the town is like around it, and see the campus and stuff. Hopefully, I can impress them enough that they can come up with an offer."

Motta, who reports a 4.0 GPA, has gotten a chance to visit the campuses at Auburn, Wake Forest, Florida State, Clemson, North Carolina, Duke and Georgia Tech. Besides Notre Dame, he plans to camp at Auburn and Stanford this summer, and also drop by Florida for a day or two.

"I'm really not sure when I'll commit somewhere," Motta said. "I'm just trying to gather my information and finish up this school year with good grades, and we'll probably soon start looking at some of the schools we're interested in."

Motta's father joked that he is half the man his son is, adding that is what every parent hopes for. Zeke gives his father a lot of the credit, as he is also the team's defensive coordinator.

"At home and practice, he makes sure I'm doing things right which is good, because if he wasn't, I probably wouldn't be learning as much," Motta said. "I see him as a very big influence."

However, Bill being a former linebacker/safety at Auburn won't influence his college decision.

"When I was younger, I kind of liked Miami, but right now I don't have a favorite team or anything like that," Motta said. "I grew up watching every team. I just like watching them all."

And there is no doubt, Coggin loves watching Motta play on Friday nights.

"He's 6-3, 210, runs pretty good, has great strength, and accelerates real well," Coggin said. "And when there is contact involved, it's a train wreck. And when that's involved, that's going to turn heads.

"And a bonus," Coggin continued with a laugh, "he has in two years, he has blocked six kicks. Every coach wants a big-time special teams player to contribute, and that's part of our philosophy. Part of our highlight tape is him blocking kicks and field goals. He is a good defensive back, but also a great special teams player."


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