|Bench Press:||315 pounds|
|School:||Sewell, Nj. (Washington Township HS)|
With the NCAA limiting Division One programs to only 85 overall scholarships for football, coaches now look hard for kids versatile enough to play more than one position for their team. Many colleges, including Penn State, start a player out at one position, but then discover that the athlete may be better suited to help his team win at a different position. Washington Township HS's Hugh D'Imperio is the prototypical player college coaches are looking for because he is athletic enough to play a number of positions for the team he signs with.
Hugh measures in at 6'5'', 230 pounds. An impressive athlete, he runs a consistent 4.58-4.59 forty after working with a speed coach, according to Hugh's father.
"The [coach] said he believed that if he really kept working hard he could get below that because he was still young."
Hugh's speed and size helped him dominate this year for Washington Township HS. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Hugh averaged nearly 12 tackles a game and totaled 7.5 sacks from his middle linebacker spot. His play on defense helped lead his high school team to the championship of New Jersey Group 4, a heartbreaking loss to their league rival Shawnee HS. Washington Township finished the season 10-2, losing twice to Shawnee.
"I have to admit, he's a very humble kid. He told me that all the accolades he received were a nicer thing for me, his mother and the family. He said he would trade it all in for a team championship. They were winning 10-0 (at halftime) in the championship against Shawnee and they lost 14-10. He was heartbroken."
"He stayed on the field. One reporter wrote that he was one of the last ones to leave the field. He just sat there watching the other team celebrate. He came home and told me if he could have traded all the accolades in for a championship, he would have done it in a minute. It was a great game, it was a shame that someone had to lose."
Although Hugh has not yet received any offers, his father says he comes home from school daily with a stack of letters in hand.
"It started with a letter here a letter there, then more or less, when the seniors signed in February, they all started sending letters. He'll go in there and Coach Brown will say he has some letters, then he'll come home with a big stack. He has letters from all the Big 10 schools. He has them from a lot of schools on the east coast like Florida and up the coast like North Carolina, Duke, Maryland, West Virginia."
"First it was from around here and then it started spreading. One came from the Florida Gators and one day he brought home one from Stanford."
Because of Hugh's versatility, some schools want him to play defense, some offense. But Hugh's dad does not know where he may end up playing on the next level.
"He played tight end and he blocks well because he played offensive tackle in the midgets and he knows how to block. But [Washington Twp] doesn't throw the ball very much, so I think he ended up with about 6 catches on the year. It was funny, the Courier Post picked him as their All-League tight end, but a kid who played for another school, who was about 5'10'' and weighed 180 pounds, they picked him as a linebacker. And then everybody else picked him as a linebacker. The Inquirer has him as All-South Jersey, they had him All-Area, which I understand went from Harrisburg to Southern Jersey."
"He knows people can approach him with different situations, where he can go there and play linebacker or somebody might want to move him. Somebody might want him to play right away. We don't know yet."
Hugh, however, prefers playing on the defensive side of the ball.
According to his father, mixed in with his daily stack of letters have been invites to junior days at various colleges around the nation.
"Boston College invited him up. They sent a letter out, but (the Junior Day) was five days later. So I called and apologized, but we couldn't just jump in the car and head up there."
Neither Hugh nor his father are sure if they will able to attend any junior functions, but it looks as if he will try to camp at both Penn State and Virginia this summer because he has not visited any schools yet. Hugh has also received an invitation to attend Nike Camp at Penn State.
With all of the attention via the mail, only a few schools stopped in at Washington HS during the short, early contact period in February, meaning Hugh should have a busy May Evaluation period, when coaches are allowed to begin contact again.
"Yeah I talked to a coach from Rutgers and a coach from Virginia (Al Groh, Jr.), he was a real nice guy."
Although it's still quite early in the process and Hugh has never been to any campuses or games, which schools stand out for him above the rest?
"I like Penn State. I like their colors. They have cool colors. It was awesome when I got a letter from them. I like Ohio State a lot. I always like Ohio State when I was little because they had Eddie George and Andy Katzenmoyer. I just got a letter from Ohio State this weekend and I was pretty hyped up about that. I kind of like Michigan because of Charles Woodson. I like the schools down south, they look really nice. I like it warm; I hate snow."
Hugh went on to say an early top five for his services would be (in no particular order) Maryland, Penn State, Michigan, Iowa, and Ohio State.
According to Hugh's father, he is currently focusing on his academics and working with an SAT tutor because he takes the test for the first time in April. He's also trying to improve himself physically.
"He's working out for next year. He knows it all comes down to him staying healthy."
Hugh agrees with his father.
"It's something I've dreamed of my whole life."
(Interviews by Steve Curry)
Hugh mentioned that his teammate guard Ryan Walsh (6'5'', 270), has also been receiving letters from schools like Penn State and Michigan.