Saddleback's Ciaccio is a big-play DB

As a freshman for Saddleback last season, S Michael Ciaccio (6-1, 200) showed he had the stuff to play with the big boys and now he's starting to find out how valuable his skills are to four-year schools. spoke with the playmaking safety recently and he talked about recruiting and what he does best on the football field.

"I'm a physical safety," Ciaccio (pronounced Chah-choe) said matter-of-factly. "I can cover and play in space well, but I'm a physical player. I like to come up and force things and be in the middle of all the action."

In Saddleback's system, the safeties play a side of the field instead of the traditional strong safety/free safety positions.

"We play both really," Ciaccio said. "It's a really fun defense to play in because we get to do a lot of everything."

As a freshman in 2006, Ciaccio put up outstanding numbers starting every game and posted 75 tackles (ranked third on the team), 11 passes broken up, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries and one sack. He was named to the All-Mission Conference team and was named the Defensive MVP of the National Bowl (a 30-28 win over Palomar).

His physical stats are just as impressive – he runs a 4.44 forty, claims a 37-inch vertical and puts up 185 pounds 18 times on the bench.

Ciaccio prepped at Northwood High School in Irvine, California and he was a standout on the gridiron, but he didn't see much recruiting interest.

"We weren't a big-time football school and we were in a lower division so I wasn't really noticed by anyone," Ciaccio recalled. "I got a couple of looks from some small schools, but I felt I had the ability to play D-1 football and by coming to Saddleback I think I have a chance to do that."

Some schools already contacting Ciaccio are Cal, Oregon, Arizona State, Kansas, Nevada and Wyoming and there's a possibility, because he was a full-qualifier out of high school, that he could leave this summer.

"Cal and UCLA have been talking to me about possibly coming out this summer so I'm kind of looking into that," Ciaccio said. "If I don't leave early then I will graduate in December and enroll in January wherever I end up.

"I'm looking for a school with good academics and how good a degree from that school would be. I want to see how I can adapt to things in my surroundings and how I fit in as well, but the academics part is the biggest thing."

If Ciaccio stays through December, he'll have three years to play two starting in 2008.

We'll have more from Ciaccio as the summer moves along.

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