Empire State of Mind

For decades, the city of New York and its boroughs are known for its high level of high school basketball. Although he knows he won't change the image, Holy Trinity Diocesan quarterback Christopher Laviano is hoping to show that good football players can come out of the Big Apple.

NEW YORK - It's known by some as the capitol of the world, the city that never sleeps and the Big Apple. Walk through any of the five boroughs and through the estimated 8.2 million people compacted into 350 square miles, it's evident why the city of New York draws so much international attention.

But growing up on Long Island and minutes away from the epicenter of the country, Holy Trinity Diocesan quarterback Christopher Laviano simply views the hustle and bustle as part of a normal, daily routine.

"I don't know anything different," Laviano said, "and that's perfectly fine with me."

Although he is a lifelong New Yorker, Laviano's childhood sounds more Midwestern than anything. Growing up with two brothers and two sisters in a neighborhood full of kids his age, Laviano would constantly have games of football and baseball going on in his backyard during the summer.

"Our house was the place everyone wanted to come to," he said. "My mom is the kind of mom that would have everyone stay over for dinner and barbeque. We have a nice homely atmosphere."

It's that upbringing that has allowed Laviano to break a surprising trend of college football futility in Gotham City.

Despite being the most populated city in the country, top-rated Division 1 recruits coming out of the inner city and its nearby areas are rare. In the class of 2012, only 11 high school seniors from the state of New York were rated three stars or better. Of that group, only three came from New York City and all three committed to Syracuse.

Most of the state's Division 1 recruits last year came from Milford Academy – a post graduate school located between Syracuse and Albany in upstate New York.

"In this area, basketball is the number one sport," said Laviano. "It's hard to get recruited out of New York. To get this kind of interest, it's like a dream come true, but it didn't happen overnight. I really had to work at it."

The work has been twofold. For one, Laviano – 6-1, 175 pounds – has spent hours upon hours working at fine tuning his game for a high school team that went 3-6.

The other part is travel, as Laviano has visited multiple campuses along the East Coast, Notre Dame and even traveled to Dallas for the Elite 11 quarterback competition, hoping to showcase his skills to a new part of the country.

"Obviously it's a challenge and it's hard to get our game out there to really show people what you can do," said Laviano. "There are so many kids trying to get recruited, but getting the opportunity to throw in front of the right people gives you a chance to show where you belong, no matter where you are from."

That exposure has already helped Laviano pick up two out-of-state BCS scholarship offers, as ACC school Boston College and Big East school Rutgers have both extended him an offer. He's impressed both schools so much that each one has kept recruiting him hard despite having its coaching staff overhauled.

"Those are the two schools that have seen me throw and both schools have been really supportive," said Laviano. "Rutgers loved my film and when they offered, I knew what my potential was. I had a great workout with them last summer."

While two offers are nice, Laviano is hopeful for more following a spring evaluation period where he said he's expecting to throw for coaches from Michigan State, North Carolina and Purdue. He also has been hearing from Wisconsin, which is still searching for a scholarship quarterback for the 2013 class.

"I spoke to coach Thomas Hammock a month ago and I am going to head down to their camp," said Laviano. "They weren't going to make it to my school, but they were definitely interested enough to have me come down to one of their one-day camps."

Laviano recognizes he is a long shot to get an offer, considering who the Badgers are currently recruiting at the position and the number of quarterbacks on the depth chart, but is intrigued by getting a chance to compete for a school that has won back-to-back Big Ten championships.

"I like the style of football they run," Laviano said. "They run the ball as much as anyone in the game. I am a fan of running the ball because it opens up the passing game, and they do it as well as anybody. I love the pro-style offense. They did a great job with Russell Wilson and I could care less about the weather. If I could throw in front of them and they like my stuff, why not consider them?"

Although his team went through a rough patch, it doesn't damper Laviano's overall body of work. Having started on the varsity level since his freshman year, Laviano helped lead deep runs into the state playoffs as a freshman and sophomore behind a big offensive line. Last year despite the struggled, Laviano completed 139 of 232 passes for 1,713 yards, 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Now he's viewed as one of the team's leaders of a team that had eight starting sophomores last season.

"You have to face adversity sometime in your life," Laviano said. "I unfortunately got a little taste of it. I think we benefited from it because we have eight returning juniors and a confident offensive line that is in the weight room every day. We have sophomores putting up weight numbers bigger than I have seen in three years.

"We don't want to lose. We know what's it like to lose, but we're going to bounce back."

It's a motto and a thought symbolic of a true New Yorker.


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