Mike Macellari has just announced at an 11am (EST) press conference at his
high school in South Bend, IN, that he will attend Stanford University. He told The
Bootleg last night that he gave his verbal commitment to Stanford head coach
Buddy Teevens earlier that evening during a dinner in their home. This
followed a very successful and impactful weekend Macellari spent on his
long-awaited official visit to Stanford.
The one catch, though, is that the two-way lineman still is not through Stanford's admissions application process. He submitted his application two weeks ago, but the admissions office has not yet delivered an answer as their various officers are reading his file over. Teevens coached him last night to specifically include words in his announcement to the effect of "contingent upon [his] acceptance by Stanford admissions" so as to not implicitly appear presumptive about his application prognosis.
Teevens also indicated that any day now, the Clay HS senior should hear back word on that application. Could be today or tomorrow. Any offer from Stanford is conditional upon such acceptance, and verbal commitments can not be 100% until such time. However, all signs do point to an acceptance with his 1370 SAT and 3.92 GPA. "I feel very strongly about my chances with the acceptance process," he told The Bootleg, and notes that he has taken all honors and AP courses whenever available at his high school.
He made his name his junior year with 60 tackles, 40 solo's, 11 sacks, 10 tackles for loss and two blocked punts. He followed up with one of the top line performances at the Pennsylvania Nike Camp that spring and soon garnered offers from Purdue, Indiana and Stanford. Macellari is a three-year starter for Clay. This senior season, he recorded 10 sacks and 9 tackles for loss, garnering first-team all-state honors in Indiana and was the only player in the state to be named as a Mr. Football finalist at two positions. Three top players in each of eight position groups were voted as finalists by the state's high school coaches, and Macellari landed the honor on both the offensive line and the defensive line.
One question obviously asked of the South Bend native is where was Notre Dame in all of this? Last spring, he named the above three offers schools as well as Northwestern and the Irish among his favorites. Wisconsin and Michigan had mutual interest for some time as well. But according to Macellari, an unofficial to the hometown school back in March impacted him negatively. He took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame the first weekend of March, which included a big basketball game in the regular season finale against Providence. The atmosphere was good, but discussion with the football coaches revealed a policy which turned him off.
"I really did not like hearing about their redshirt policy," he recalls.
"Notre Dame lets you go through the whole first year and only at the end do
you find out if you redshirted or not. That really bothered
me." In all fairness to the Irish, it is unclear who deselected whom,
given the national pool that they recruit from. Had Macellari retained his
interest in Notre Dame, it is entirely possible that they might not have chosen
to offer him. As an additional note, his father is an Irish alum.
The final decision came down to Stanford versus Purdue, a two-school list he narrowed many months ago. Macellari took his official visit to Purdue way back in September, and though he had a very good time, he still publicly proclaimed that Stanford held at least a slight edge with him. With the official trip out West scheduled for the big January 10 visit weekend, that left a gap of several months of relative recruiting silence. Macellari says that schools pretty well honored his request to keep his focus on just Stanford and Purdue, and he was able to spend a relatively quiet senior season focusing on football and accumulating information on his two schools. He did inform me that information on the Stanford football program is sparse in South Bend, where Notre Dame and other state schools dominate all headlines and stories. Beyond the limited information he said he could gleam from the Stanford official website, he says he turned to The Bootleg as an important supplementary source of scoop on Cardinal football, frequenting the message boards.
His most recent trip was not the first visit he had taken to The Farm, however. Macellari came out to Stanford this past summer for the lineman camp, which was where Stanford offered him. He also began to forge a relationship with Stanford's longtime defensive tackles coach Dave Tipton. In addition to the coaching he received during the camp, the former Rose Bowl defensive standout also showed the young lineman around campus. "Coach Tipton knows just about everything about the place," Macellari said of his tour guide. Each building on campus they passed was accompanied by some historical factoid or a personal anecdote.
Weighing Stanford versus Purdue was a thoughtful and thorough process for the Indiana standout, across several criterion. Purdue is a bigger school with a large community, while Stanford "is a little different" environment. Purdue has said they are in serious need of defensive linemen in this class, and though they have several commits to date, a top DL is wavering and none project for the defensive interior. Macellari was also very aware that the Cardinal graduated their top three defensive tackles this year and are in dire need of help at the position in this class. Purdue has provided an impressive streak of six straight years in bowl games, and a strong relationship was forged between Macellari and the Boilermaker head man Joe Tiller. Stanford in contrast chalked up a disappointing season.
"Coming out on this visit, I had a couple doubts," he admits. "Stanford is coming off a 2-9 season and you read the talk about a coaching change. But this weekend dispelled all my concerns. I'm completely convinced this place is on the way back up. There's no doubt in my mind. You can tell when something is ready to turn around, and that was so clear to me at Stanford."
One activity that he says was an important indicator was the football team's strength and conditioning workout he witnessed on Friday. Coach Ron Forbes likes to make the Friday workouts a little more unique and fun, to end the weak on a high and enthusiastic note. On this day, the players broke up into several teams and competed in an inventive obstacle course challenge. "There was a lot of whooping and yelling from the guys. So much hustle and excitement. It was awesome," the recruit noted.
He says that the academics for Stanford were a strong advantage all the way through the process, and that was only confirmed during his January visit. He loved the faculty brunch Saturday morning, including his time spent with Stanford Biology professor Robert Simoni. Macellari has aspirations of medical school after his undergraduate years conclude.
The athletic package is just as powerful for him as the academics, and he cites the recent Sports Illustrated fall issue on top college athletic programs as evidence. "Stanford was a leader for me because of their athletic prestige. I mean, how impressive is it that a school of 6000 undergraduates is named by SI right along with Texas as the top athletic school in the country, and they have more than 40,000 students," he declared.
Another important part of the 'sell' this weekend at Stanford came elsewhere in the Macellari family. Mike's father had tripped to The Farm this past summer with his son for the lineman camp, but his mother had yet to see the campus or environment. According to her son, Mrs. Macellari does not like to fly, and she held reservations about letting her son go so far from home. He told The Bootleg a couple months ago, "She'll feel better when she comes out for the January visit and sees everything that Stanford offers. For her, it's more about making sure her son is being taken care of." And the result after the two days on campus? "She felt a lot better about my going away," her son confirms.
The in-home visit last night by Buddy Teevens was almost a formality for the Macellari family. Mike had two days to let the visit sink in and make sure he was not giving a knee-jerk commitment after such a good time, and all football business had been talked through previously. The dinner was a very social and normal dinner that hardly touched on any pigskin. Teevens politely asked if he could keep his cell phone turned on during the dinner, in the event that he received a call from the Stanford admissions office on Macellari's application. The head coach told the family he expects to hear back literally at any moment, any day now.
Mike Macellari was a big part of a tremendous season by his Clay High School team. They notched a school record 11 wins in a final 11-3 record, including the first ever sectional and regional championships. They almost went all the way, losing in the semifinals of the state playoffs in a heartbreaking 17-14 decision. He lined up at offensive tackle and defensive end, as well as placekicking. When asked if he might add an emergency leg to the Stanford roster with his kicking background, Macellari laughed. "I'm a straight-away kicker who just had good distance for our team, but I don't soccer-style kick like everyone else."
If his frame fills out, he likely projects at defensive tackle at Stanford, though he could continue to play outside as a strongside end if he can maintain his speed. In addition to football, the 6'6" 261-pounder excels in the track & field events and wants to pursue a two-sport career at Stanford. He has been one of Indiana's top shotput and discuss throwers throughout high school.
TheInsiders network of recruiting experts currently rank Macellari as the #50 defensive end in the country, and the Rivals recruiting writers have tabbed him the #20 strongside DE in the land.