This past weekend brought Stanford's last linebacker recruit for 2006 to campus, while Nick Macaluso was on his fifth and final official visit. The Cardinal corralled last year a crop of linebackers heavy at the "outside" positions for their 3-4 defense but a little light inside. Macaluso, at 6'3" 225, would be a key pickup for the Card to help bolster the middle of their linebacking corps, where they will lose two starting seniors this next year.
Stanford might have been a little behind in the game recruiting Macaluso, as the last school to offer him among his favorites group. But the Middletown (N.J.) South High School standout came into the weekend with a top two of Stanford and Northwestern, inching ever closer to his college decision. First, he had to see what all the hoopla was all about at The Farm.
"When I went there, I had heard all about it. People told me how beautiful the campus was and how wonderful a place it was. I'm thinking, 'What kind of place is this?'" the recruit relates. "Once I got there, I understood what they were saying. The place was amazing."
While Macaluso says he marveled at the campus and enjoyed the academic excellence in every corner, he found something more personal that had an impact during his weekend.
"I thought the most important thing was the relationship with the other recruits," he explains. "At other places, we kind of talked a little, but at Stanford we all really hit it off. That really impressed me."
It may have helped that Macaluso was joined on his trip by a group of an eager future Cards: Austin Yancy - committed to the Cardinal on Saturday; Joe Dembesky - ready to commit once accepted; Tyrone McGraw - eager to commit once offered; Zach Nolan - committed to walk on; Sam Weinberger - previously committed; Marcus Rance - previously committed; and Alex Loukas - previously committed.
Macaluso also says that the Stanford players played a big part in his weekend's wonderment. The Cardinal have a young group of players from New York/New Jersey/Massachusetts, and that "East Coast Mafia" of James Dray, Chris Marinelli, James McGillicuddy, Alex Fletcher and Fred Campbell made Macaluso feel right at home.
"My host was Jimmy Dray, who is another Jersey guy, and that was really good. I was able to get the perspective of another New Jersey guy and what it's like being out at Stanford," the recruit recounts. "I asked if he has ever gotten homesick. He said you are so busy you couldn't have time to get homesick. Then when it's time to go, it takes you by surprise and you're almost not ready to go. Time flies at a place like this."
The Middeltown man was joined by his mother and father on the visit, and they walked away equally impressed.
"Both of my parents were totally blown away," the son says. "They wanted to feel comfortable about the school and about the coaches because this is where I would be for the next four years of my life."
Coming into the weekend, Macaluso fully expected to have a positive experience that would make his decision difficult in the coming days. That made the content of his final Sunday conversation with Stanford head coach Walt Harris something unexpected.
"I thought after seeing Stanford that I was going to go home and have a lot to think about," Macaluso maintains. "[Harris] asked me what timetable I thought I would have for my decision. I told him, 'I don't have a timetable. I'm ready to commit.' I think it caught him by surprise."
Stanford's 16th and latest verbal commitment in the 2006 recruiting class is a big one. Nick Macaluso is a two-time First Team All-State standout in New Jersey, and each of the last two years was named the Monmouth County Defensive Player of the Year. He has been the preeminent playmaker and leader on Middletown South's defense that has won three straight state championships with a 36-0 record over his varsity career. The Eagles run a 4-4 defense in which Macaluso plays the strongside inside position. That is similar in many ways to the weakside "Will" position in Stanford's 3-4 defense where he has been recruited.
"I'm a long and lean linebacker," Macaluso offers. "I run pretty well. I run a 4.6 which is pretty good for a linebacker. Coach [Darrell] Patterson says they like me because I can run."
Macaluso is rated at three stars by Scout.com as the #84 linebacker in the country, while also ranking #14 among all senior recruits in the state of New Jersey. He fielded offers from Northwestern, Duke, Rutgers and Kansas. Macaluso did not trip to Kansas and instead took an official visit to Princeton.
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