Santarelli, a rugged offensive lineman with very good feet and agility, is currently embarked on a summer tour that will take him to at least ten different camps. He's typical of many rising seniors at this point – players with the talent and ability to earn Division I offers, but ones who are still working to get attention from the right schools and earn those scholarship tenders. In that search, Santarelli is leaving no stone unturned.
"This year, I've been to Pitt, Temple, Duquesne, Villanova, West Virginia, Virginia, Monmouth, Buffalo and Old Dominion," he said, detailing his busy itinerary. "I go to a lot of camps because I like playing football. There's always something new I can pick up. "Also, coaches want to see what I can do, and working in front of them is the best way to do that. I can learn, but at same time I can show coaches what I can do."
Santarelli's short explanation underscores the dual nature of summer camps held at colleges. They do provide instruction and help players improve, but they are also an important part of the recruiting process. Schools want to see game film (and not just highlight tapes) of the players they are recruiting, but those tapes aren't the only method for evaluating players. Often, those videos don't provide the close-up view that's obtained watching a player from just a few feet away, so the in-person aspect of evaluation remains an important one, even in the digital age of video-on-demand.
So, for players like Santarelli, the summer can be a make-or-break proposition, although he tries to put that out of his mind when he's on the field.
"I know that scholarships are hanging in the balance, but I try not to think about that," he said "I want to have fun when I'm on the field, so I don't think about offers. I try to think about how I am going to compete. I want to be first in line with every drill and do my best, and then see how it works out."
Santarelli is beginning to see some results from his work. Big East schools Pitt and West Virginia, as well as the ACC's Virginia, have been staying in touch, along with Temple, Buffalo, Eastern Michigan Villanova and Delaware.
"I am just starting with West Virginia – they sent me some stuff in the mail, and Coach Bedenbaugh watched my film and liked it. He invited me down to a camp, so now I am starting to build a relationship there."
Santarelli had a good camp session at West Virginia. He showed very good agility in board drills and other footwork sessions, and picked up some coaching points that will help him during his upcoming senior season.
"Some of the stuff we did are things I have learned before, but it is good reinforcement," he explained. "Coach Bedenbaugh showed me some stuff I had never seen, too. We worked with a medicine ball to help our punch, and a lot of drills emphasized that. I feel like I am good at pass protection, but I know I need to work on my punch there rather than leaning into the guy. We also did a lot of footwork drills, and I did well in those. Chopping my feet, moving, making contact and holding blocks, we worked on all of that.
"Coach Bedenbaugh, he knows what he is talking about," Santarelli continued. "We worked on those techniques, and on keeping my arms in close to my body so I can deliver a blow, and all of those things will help me be a better player."
Santarelli was also impressed with what he saw of WVU football physical plant.
"The facilities are by far some of the best I ever saw," he said of his first trip to WVU. "I like the fact that the weight room looks out at the field – I never saw that at any facility before. Everything is close and right there, and it had enough room to work and get all your work done. It was just a unique set-up."
At The Hill school, Santarelli has played several spots along both lines. He has manned both defensive tackle and defensive end, and has also played tackle and guard. He hopes that versatility will help coaches see that he is adaptable, and can fit in wherever he's needed.
Santarelli and his father have spend a lot of travel time together on their summer odyssey, but that's hasn't been all bad. Certainly, there have been long hours in their family vehicle, but it has helped them grow closer.
"We could always talk to each other, and we had a good relationship before, but this has really helped to build it up," he said frankly. "We've gotten to know each other a lot better, and we have talked about some personal things that we might not have discussed before. It has been very good for me."