Cironi In No Hurry To Decide

OL Rocco Cironi of Warren (OH) Harding currently ranks as one of Ohio's top five offensive line prospects. He's focused on football right now and doing what needs to be done to get the attention of colleges, but he is in no hurry to make a decision.

Quality offensive linemen are always in demand and Rocco Cironi of Warren G. Harding High School certainly has the physical frame and potential to be one.

"It's not really busy (recruiting-wise), I'm just getting letters from colleges. Nobody has really been in contact with me a lot," Cironi said. "Right now I'm just trying to work hard in the weight room to get my bench and squat up and wait for the colleges to come and visit and talk with them and see what they have to offer and see if they're interested in me or not."

Cironi, a three-sport participant up to this point in his high school career, only recently completed basketball season with the Raiders.

"I was planning on playing baseball again this year, but I decided not to because football is going to be my thing, and so I just want to concentrate on that now," he said. "As far as basketball goes, I don't know what I'll do right now. If I commit early then I'll probably play again, but if I don't then I'll probably spend the winter looking for a college to go to."

A two-year starter at left tackle for the Raiders, who haven't lost a regular season game over that time, Cironi knows that football will play a major role in the future direction of his young life.

"Right now, football is my life," said Cironi who plans to camp at both Ohio State and Michigan this summer. "I love the game of football and that's going to be my future. I want to go to a big college and play and get an education."

And Cironi knows that he still has some work to do in order to make that happen.

"I could get a lot better, and I want to get better," he said. "I'm looking at a guy like Robert Gallery from Iowa; I wish I could be just like him. I've watched him play and I think he's pretty amazing."

At 6-7, 260 pounds, Cironi has the body type to grow into the dimensions of a guy like Gallery.

"They all tell me that my weight will catch up to me. I try to eat as much as I can and lift as much as I can," he said. "I want to play at 280 in my senior year. I'm not real fat; I'm more slim than anything. It makes me a lot quicker. I'm not carrying around a lot of weight, and I'm not big and bulky so they don't really have anything to grab on to."

He credits his agility from being on the basketball team with helping to make him fairly adept as a pass-blocker.

"I'm pretty solid at pass-blocking," said Cironi, who plays on an offense under Thom McDaniels that's pretty diversified. "Right now I'm working hard at my run-blocking; things like double-teams and getting off on the linebackers. But I'm pretty good at pass blocking; we do a lot of that, and we did a lot of that this past year at practice." 

His slight build has obviously worked against him some in the strength department and at Harding, the 40-yard dash times under McDaniels seem to be administered with a sun dial.

"Right now, I'm a little ashamed of my bench. My long arms really hurt me because I've got all that way to move that much weight," said Cironi who hinted that his max is in the 240-250 pound range. "That's another reason why I'm not playing baseball; I want to get more time in the weight room. Mr. Alfie Burch, one of our coaches this year, is going to help me to get my bench max up.

"And I haven't tested in the 40 yet. I can't wait to, but last year I ran a 5.1 or something like that."

Yes, that aforementioned Alfie Burch is the former Wolverine from the University of Michigan. With the likes of Carl Diggs, Prescott Burgess and now Mario Manningham playing for Michigan, there is talk that the city of Warren should be exiled from Ohio and annexed to the state to its north.

"Warren is about 20 miles north of Youngstown, where Maurice Clarett came from," said Cironi as he tried to explain his school's Michigan connection. "Alfie Burch and (Harding's boys' basketball head coach) Steve Arnold - whose brother is Dave Arnold that played at Michigan - have all the contacts up there. And now Carl Diggs is a big influence for Michigan and Prescott went there. They just come back down and tell everybody how great it is and you can't really pass that up if they want you."

Admittedly, Cironi is also intrigued with Michigan. He went to the Ohio State-Michigan game last year and came away totally impressed, but his loyalty is to neither school at this point in the recruiting process.

"I've looked at Ohio State and Michigan, and they're both in the running for the college that I want to go to, but I have no idea what I want to do yet," said Cironi who attended Ohio State's junior day back on Feb. 7. "I'm trying to set my major for college and I have undecided feelings about where I want to go."

Despite his natural interest in Michigan, by no means does Ohio State take a back seat to them in Cironi's eyes.

"I'd be delighted to go to Ohio State," Cironi said. "Dougie Datish is down there now and he goes to my church. I talk to him all of the time and he just tells me how great it is, and I listen to him and I believe every word he says."

Cironi attended the Purdue game at Ohio Stadium last year.

"When they went into overtime, I was right there and it was just awesome hearing all of the people cheer," he said. "And they missed that kick; it was great."

Unfortunately for Cironi at this point, neither Michigan nor Ohio State has offered him a football scholarship. In fact, Cironi has yet to receive any offers with spring right around the corner.

"I just want to work hard in the weight room now and get my weight up to what they want me at and get ready for my senior season," he said. "When the colleges come and watch me, I just want to put on a show for them."

Along with Alex Boone, A.J. Haas and some others, Cironi is considered by many to be the cream of the crop as an offensive lineman in Ohio for next season.

"That's a goal that I want to work for; I want to be number one, and I've got to push myself to be that," Cironi said. "A lot of guys on my team look up to me, and I want to be able to set the level that everyone has to compete at."

Despite the early acclaim, he's definitely not a candidate to make an early commitment to any school.

"I want to wait and play through the season first," Cironi said. "They can make their final judgments on me and gather whatever information they need."

And by doing that, Cironi said that someone might discover a player like Dante Campbell, his bookend tackle who has also started for two seasons, or Tony Reed, a junior defensive tackle for the Raiders next season.

"(Campbell's) the right tackle and he's about 6-3, 260 or 270 and he's the strongest guy on our team right now," Cironi said. "Tony Reed is about 6-2 or 6-3 and he weighs about 260 or 270 and he's as strong as a bull too. He's a defensive tackle and he might play some at offensive guard or tight end this year. He's a good athlete and he can really move."


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