As the 2004 Stanford Football regular season nears its end, it is only natural to look at who will return on the Cardinal roster for the 2005 season and beyond. One position that has afforded Stanford fantastic play in recent years is at safety, with fifth-year senior Oshiomogho Atogwe about to become the third straight Stanford safety drafted into the NFL. Left behind are a very capable Brandon Harrison and Trevor Hooper, each entering their third year of eligibility. Behind them, though, the depth is frightful. Recruiting is all about building depth and upgrading talent at all positions on the football field, though safeties for some reason have little sex appeal. They are the "slow" defensive backs who cannot cover Pac-10 receivers, ostensibly easier to find than speedy cornerbacks. The reality on The Farm right now, however, is that the Cardinal have signed four scholarship cornerbacks the last two years, while inking just Harrison at safety.
This is why we have been so interested in following New Jersey safety standout Anthony Scirrotto. The 6'1" 185-pound athlete has garnered scholarships in football and baseball at a national level, in no small part due to his playmaking ability. Through his first three years of varsity football at West Deptford High School, Scirrotto snared 20 interceptions while quarterbacking the defense. His junior year, he also took on the role of quarterback on offense, and led the Eagles to an undefeated 12-0 record and South Jersey Group II championship. West Deptford and Scirrotto are rolling undefeated again this fall, with an 8-0 record. The senior quarterback has thrown for seven touchdowns and run for two more on offense, while he has twice found the endzone on interception returns (35 and 99 yards).
The Eagles have forged their reputation on defense once again this year, allowing just 40 points in eight games this year. Only two of those touchdowns came with the varsity players still on the field, often yanked in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand. Scirrotto has been an intercepting machine during his prep career, and he has added five more picks this year. With 25 now in his career, many observers are speculating if he has the state career interceptions record, though officials have not yet been able to chase that statistic down. Scirrotto ought to be hunting for as many balls as he can get his hands on this year, to secure his place in South Jersey history, but he instead is focusing on improving another area of his defense.
"Anthony is taking the approach that he wants to dish out a little more punishment this year," offers his father, Tony Scirrotto. "There are a lot of times he sees the ball but aims for the offensive player instead. College coaches said they wanted to see more tackling this year, and he's giving that to them."
With scholarship offers for football from Stanford, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vanderbilt, Indiana and Temple, there is not a lot more for the senior standout to prove. His exploits on the diamond have earned him baseball scholarships from Duke and Virginia as well. In fact, the one official visit that Scirrotto has taken thus far this fall brought him to Durham on a baseball trip the first weekend of October. The Blue Devil coaches put on a full press with an eye on a quick commitment from the shortstop as they readied for the November signing period. It backfired.
"They wanted him to commit that week," says the elder Scirrotto of the pressure. "They said they wouldn't close the door, but if Anthony didn't commit right away, they could not promise him the scholarship money would still be there. Anthony told me, 'In my heart, I want to play football.' He loves both sports, but is passion is for football, so he's shying away from baseball in college a little now. Stanford and Georgia Tech are still talking to him about playing both sports, though."
Just a month ago, Scirrotto was scheduled to take early official visits to Stanford (10/15) and Wisconsin (11/5). The idea was to gather enough data from those two football trips to weigh against the Duke baseball trip and make a decision on his college future by the early baseball signing period. Now that Scirrotto's focus has moved away from baseball, that temporal pressure has been removed, allowing the football official visits to get pushed back after his senior season at West Deptford concludes. In a scheduling oddity, the Eagles play this weekend and the next in the first two rounds of the playoffs, and then over Thanksgiving they play their regular season finale against Paulsboro. If the train keeps on rolling, Scirrotto's team would be 11-0 and play in the state championship game on December 3. The plan is to fly the morning of Saturday the 4th to Stanford for his official visit at The Farm. If West Deptford should be surprised and take a loss before then, he would move the visit a day earlier to coincide with the regular schedule that weekend with other Cardinal recruits.
Scirrotto has his second football official visit set for the following weekend, December 10. It is not unlikely that after those two trips, the standout safety will be in a position to make his college commitment before the Holidays. Indeed, the Cardinal and Badgers have the lead as his two favorites at this time, but others are making a push. Minnesota, who offered back in the summer, is pushing for a visit, though the next available weekend in January might come too late. Tennessee and Georgia Tech are both calling and recruiting heavily, with Notre Dame still showing interest as well.
But Stanford is on the fast track, with the first visit and hopes of an impending admissions decision. The Scirrotto family marveled at the depth that Stanford's admissions application required, while all other schools are able to rubber-stamp the recruit.
"Oh my God - that application is crazy," exclaims the father. "That was a lot of work, but it's all in the mail. Even the teacher and counselor recommendations. Anthony's pretty excited about it."
The Card are in a strong position, according to Tony Scirrotto, though much hangs on the admissions outcome. His son should find out his admissions answer this month, before boarding a plane the morning of December 4. If he gets the thumbs up, Scirrotto could be one step closer to a Cardinal commitment. We will keep you updated on his latest in the eventful weeks to come.
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