Anthony Scirrotto is something of a sensation in South New Jersey, going back to his starting role on defense at West Deptford High School as a freshman defensive back. He pulled in three interceptions that year, which is a nice season total for many top senior DBs. He also led the team with six touchdown receptions as a wideout on offense, though he only played the second half of the year. What Scirrotto did his sophomore year at free safety, though, blew the doors off that freshman debut. He snared exactly 12 interceptions in the 2002 season which led the entire state, and which were complemented nicely by his more than 100 tackles.
That sophomore season earned him All-South Jersey honors, but the West Deptford dandy was asked to take a big role on offense his junior season as the quarterback of the Eagles. He answered the call and powered their wing-T offense to a 12-0 record and South Jersey Group II championship. That was also the first ever undefeated season in the history of West Deptford football. Scirrotto threw for 949 yards and 12 touchdowns in the air, while running for 507 yards and 10 more scores on the ground. On special teams he scored twice on punt returns, and at safety he added six interceptions and 80 tackles to his statistically superb season.
With 21 career interceptions and a stellar senior season still ahead, Scirrotto is said to be closing in on the state's career record, though the humble two-way standout is unconcerned enough about statistics to not even know what that record number is. He simply focuses on his play.
"I see the field really well - I have good vision," the 2003 All-Conference quarterback and All-South Jersey defender describes. "Being a quarterback myself, I feel like I can read the other quarterback's eyes when I'm on defense. In high school, you don't see quarterbacks look off receivers much. I know what they are going to do."
Scirrotto was run pretty ragged this year with his physical demands on offense, defense and special teams. Playing every down at safety certainly taxes your legs when you are running so much option as a quarterback on offense. But instincts, speed and read-and-react timing allowed him to make plays.
"I was timed last summer running a 4.4 in the 40," the athletic junior reports. "Some people are a little wary and would like to see me run that today. I want to get to some camps or combines, but it's really hard with baseball."
That is where the story becomes even more unique for Anthony Scirrotto. As highly rated as he may be on the gridiron, he is also a big-time baseball player. As a sophomore at West Deptford he was the leadoff man, hitting .372 and broke school records in runs (46) and stolen bases (26). The 6'1" athlete starred at shortstop but he also pitches when the team needs a closer.
"I'm not really a pitcher," he admits however. "I just have a strong arm and can throw 88 to 90 [mph] to help close a game."
Scirrotto really came on in the summer, when he hit more than .470. He and the West Deptford club (which pulled from five area high schools) made a storied run to the American Legion World Series in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. For those not familiar with American Legion baseball, it is the national network of youth summer baseball that in 2003 had 5,400 teams and more than 100,000 players registered for National tournament play. Scirrotto and West Deptford made it to the eight-team finale in Oklahoma, but they went 0-3. In their opener they blew 3-0 and 5-4 leads in a 9-5 loss to Corvallis (Ore.); in their second game they lost 8-6 after holding a 6-2 lead after five innings against Rochester (Minn.). Their final game was diasterous 12-2 drubbing. The bottom-dwelling finish at the World Series was disheartening, but Scirrotto batted a stellar .455 with three stolen bases over the three games.
Through 14 games in his junior season of high school ball this spring, the leadoff man is tearing up South Jersey with a .625 average. He has scored 27 runs, driven in 24, stolen 17 bases and clubbed seven home runs.
"After playing against the kind of competition I did last summer, high school ball feels so easy this year. I'm just seeing the ball a lot better," Scirrotto explains of his dominating success at the plate.
The baseball recruiting calendar is different from what we know for football and basketball, with a lot of the scouting and recruitment still to come. But this hot-hitting infield talent is earning heavy attention across the nation. Scirrotto lists Nebraska, Arkansas, Virginia, Stanford, Clemson, Duke, Wake Forest and Miami (FL) as the schools recruiting him the hardest on the diamond today. The Cavs and Card are recruiting him intensely for football as well and are currently his best options to play both sports.
Scirrotto last week was given his first gridiron offer from Stanford, and then quickly on Saturday he opened up a package in the mail from Wisconsin with offer number two. The Badgers have been on this Jersey gem for some time, and the offer was not unexpected.
"I was ecstatic - really excited," he says of the scholarship from the Big 10 power. "Wisconsin might not be the place I want to go to the most right now, but this opens doors. Wisconsin is a big-time program, and this sends a signal to other schools recruiting me."
"With the Stanford offer, I was floored," Scirrotto continues. "They basically are like an Ivy League school academically. They are number two in the nation in baseball and play big-time football."
The 185-pound two-sport star says that his top five right now consist of Stanford, Penn State, Notre Dame, Virginia and Maryland. The Cardinal stick out like a sore thumb on that list for the New Jersey native, and you can't help but ask about the geographic challenges that will come with their cross-country recruitment.
"Distance doesn't really matter to me right now," Scirrotto answers. "California has the beach, mountains and opportunities. But you also know that once you go away, you might start missing things from home. If I stay around here, I would probably go to Penn State. If I don't worry about distance, then I'd probably go to Stanford."
The Nittany Lions are a foe to watch closely in this recruitment, especially today. Scirrotto and his father are in Happy Valley at the time this article is published, for the Penn State Junior Day. The junior defensive back recruit originally had hoped to attend the Nike Camp at the same location on Saturday, but baseball conflicts will bring him back home early. Today is the day that Scirrotto, though, expects something significant to happen when he meets Joe Paterno.
"Coach [Ron] Vanderlinden and I have a close relationship," the prospect says of his primary recruiting coach at Penn State. "My coach talked with JoePa on Friday and said that Coach Vanderlinden wanted to offer but JoePa needs to see me in person first and have some time to talk."
Stanford fans might then wonder if this dazzling dandy for two sports could be taken off the table as soon as they have discovered him. If Scirrotto gets an offer and is wowed by Paterno in person, could he commit on this unofficial visit to the school he admits is his favorite in the East?
"I don't really think there will be an early commitment because baseball is a big factor for me," the recruit replies. "If I go to Penn State, I would definitely play football. I'd like to play both sports, though, if possible. I just don't know how hard that would be on my grades. I have to keep my grades up - that's important."
As is the case with so many cross-country recruits for the Cardinal, this battle will likely turn on his visit. Whenever distance is a part of the equation, the success or failure of a visit to The Farm can make or break the recruitment. Scirrotto says that he would like to take a trip during his senior year to learn much more about Stanford in person.
"I definitely would like the chance to take an official visit for a weekend," he declares. "Though I've heard once you go out there, you won't want to come back."
On the academic side, Anthony Scirrotto is putting up numbers in the classroom that rival his interception totals and his batting average. He currently takes AP courses and holds a 5.17 GPA at West Deptford High School, where they employ a five-point scale. He has scored an 1110 on the SAT but will take it again in June. He is looking to break 1200 with that second crack at the standardized test.
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