Top Punter Recruit Gets Some Good News

Though Stanford's punting game has taken an early about-face for the better in this 2002 season, the need to recruit a punter in this 2003 recruiting class is high. The only punters on the roster have just one season of eligibility left after this one. So Stanford has watched Jay Ottovegio of Ft. Lauderdale closely as their #1 target, and just gave him some good news...

Right on the heels of the news that #1 fullback in the country Emeka Nnoli has gained acceptance to Stanford (and promptly committed), arguably the top punter in the country Jay Ottovegio has learned that he has also been given the thumbs up from Stanford's admissions office.

Buddy Teevens gave Ottovegio the call this past week with the good news, and the star kicker from St. Thomas Aquinas was ecstatic.  "I wasn't expecting it," says the Fort Lauderdale specialist.  "It is very exciting to get that out of the way.  Now I can just worry about football my senior season."

When Jay told me that he was accepted, I thought there might be a Stanford commitment to follow.  Indeed, the young man says that Stanford is still his "top choice right now," with a list of four schools of serious interest today (Stanford, Iowa, San Diego State, Central Florida).  But in considering a four or five year college decision that is 3000 miles away, Ottovegio says that he just cannot make that decision absent a visit.

"David [Marrero - teammate] has told me how much he liked his Stanford visit, but I need to see it for myself," he states.  But don't expect a visit to Stanford anytime soon, since Ottovegio at this time anticipates his school visits to come after the conclusion of his senior season.  The only exception might be a kick jump three four hours north to UCF during his season.  And given that Jay's recruitment should stretch thusly into December or even January, he is happy to be in a position where he is accepted and offered by his leader, but could still see other options come his way.  And remember that kickers and punters often see many of their offers come in the middle or after their senior season, when college coaches have more firm evidence upon which to give out the rare kicking offer.  No dates have been set for any of his visits, including the one to come out to The Farm.

I also sense an undercurrent it talking with Jay that there is some mild trepidation about the distance to Stanford, though Ottovegio downplays that part of his decision.  "Distance isn't really a negative for me with Stanford right now, and my parents are supportive of that," he says.  "For an option like Stanford, it would be worth it to go cross-country.  If I like Stanford when I visit - if I feel comfortable - then distance will not matter.  I know I will always be a phone call away from home."

Speaking of phone calls, when Buddy Teevens made the call last week to give Ottovegio the good news, the two talked a little football.  Teevens revealed his thoughts and lessons from Stanford's opener versus Boston College, and Jay shared some stories from STA's own opener, also a crushing and disappointing loss.  Aquinas lost a tough 12-7 decision against Blanche Ely HS, which the most acute of Stanford recruitniks recognize as the high school of top offensive line recruit Andrew Bain.  But the hallmark of this game was the torrential rains and the mudbath in which they played.  Lots of mud is a lot of bad news for kicking, and sure enough STA did not present many kicking opportunities for Ottovegio.

Ottovegio and Aquinas did pick up a strong win this past weekend in their second game, though.  Jay has only had two field goal attempts through two games, going one of two, but his kickoffs and punting have been strong early on.  Good field position for STA has prevented him from the chance to really boom any punts, but Ottovegio has done well with his placement.  Of his four punts this season, three have been put inside the 20 yardline, and his hangtime is pushing north of 4.5 seconds.  On kickoffs (which are taken from the forty yardline), Jay has kicked the seams off the ball.  One of this kickoffs sailed through the uprights, and another missed just wide.  Nice.

One thing Jay is enjoying in his senior year that completely departs from football is some drama that he is taking this year.  Theater has intrigued Jay for several years, and he notes that he has enjoyed catching plays locally as well as abroad when he has traveled with his family.  But don't expect Jay to be seen in a reprisal of Willy Loman's character in Death of a Salesman any time soon - Ottovegio is getting his feet wet by working more behind the scenes at first in the STA theater program.

"Maybe I might take an acting role in something at the end of the year," says the erstwhile Clark Gable, "but you have to know that I'm not really an actor-type.  I like being in front of people - that is the easy part - but I am not good at staying in character.  Still, it should all be fun."

Well, whether he is in the drama arena or the recruiting arena, we do know that Jay Ottovegio is taking center stage this year, and we will be watching closely.

Speaking of David Marrero, Jay mentioned that David just took a visit to Notre Dame.  Look for a Marrero story to follow soon...


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