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Marco Iannuzzi’s college quest was slightly different than that of many of his peers. He applied to Harvard, and like more than 90 percent of applicants, he was rejected. But unlike most, Iannuzzi tried again. And again.
The third time proved to be the charm for the Calgary, Alberta native, much to relief of Crimson coach Tim Murphy, who recruited the wide receiver while he was in high school.
“First year, he didn’t get in,” Murphy said. “Second year, they encouraged him to go to prep school, but he decided to do independent study.”
Forgoing scholarships at a number of schools, Iannuzzi wouldn’t give up on Harvard, and the Crimson didn’t give up on him.
“He finally went to prep school in Ohio, did a great job academically, and after three years, he’s coming to Harvard,” Murphy said. “That’s persistence.”
Iannuzzi marks just one of the 31 recruited players to have accepted offers of admission to the College in the class of 2011, joining a Crimson squad that will graduate some of its most accomplished athletes in the team’s history. Most notable of those are all-time Ivy League rusher Clifton Dawson and defensive tackle Mike Berg. But with freshman Cheng Ho tabbed to replace Dawson and a slew of returning talent on the defensive line, Harvard’s most notable recruits come on other areas of the field.
There are guys like 6’5 quarterback Cameron Ely, a California native from Exeter who sports the conventional Harvard-recruited stats: a GPA above 4.0, questionable arm strength and supreme intelligence to go along with his ability to make “good decisions,” according to prominent recruiting Web site Scout.com.
And then there are players such as Nicolai Schwarzkopf, a combination tight end/defensive end from Decatur, Ga. According to ESPN.com, Schwarzkopf considered a number of schools, including Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt, before deciding to come to Cambridge.
ESPN.com also lists Stanford as one of Schwarzkopf’s potential destinations, but it was another potential Cardinal signee whose commitment proved especially sweet.
“It was one of the few times we beat Stanford on a kid,” Murphy said of Victor Ojukwu, an incoming linebacker from Claremont, Calif. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because it is—he’s the brother of current Crimson and sophomore running back Randy Ojukwu.
“The only reason we beat them is because his brother’s here,” Murphy said.
Harvard also beat out a cluster of coastal schools, including California and Florida State, in nabbing Dean Scaduto, a linebacker from Bergen Catholic High School in Oradell, N.J.
“He’s very highly-recruited as well,” Murphy said.
But as is often the case when players make the transition from high school to college, a number of position changes are in the works. No school can take 30 former high school quarterbacks, which is why Nicolas “Nico” Amaro will try his hand at defensive back full-time for Harvard this fall.
Amaro, who hails from Cooper City, Fla., is the quintessential successful high-school student athlete, telling a local paper, the Pembroke Pines Charter, that “sports and school go hand in hand.”
But the area where the Crimson was perhaps most need in of some incoming help was not the hands department, but the feet.
“We needed speed and we got speed at the wide receiver position,” Murphy said.
It comes in the form of Levi Richards, a lean wide receiver/defensive back out of the small southern Illinois town of Newton.
According to Murphy, Richards “will be the fastest kid on the team the day he steps off the plane.”
Described by ESPN.com as “shifty and quicker than fast,” he originally considered a number of I-A schools, including Iowa, Tennessee, and Florida, before choosing the Crimson for the next four years.
In addition to Ely, two other quarterbacks will look to throw to Richards in the future. Matt Simpson hails from Springdale, Ark., while Oklahoma native Collier Winters rounds out the new crop of signal-callers.
“My strengths are my footwork, my accuracy and my leadership on the field,” Winters told Scout.com. “I’m the quiet-type leader, not a dictator.”
Perhaps sensing the humbling nature of joining the college ranks, Winters is quick to cite an area of weakness.
“I need to work on my patience in the pocket,” he also told the Web site. “I know getting better with that just comes with a lot of practice.”
Other notables include a pair of defensive backs. Collin Zych from Plano, Texas, has a twin brother who committed to the University of Texas, while John Fahnenstiel from North Muskegon, Mich. placed third in SPARQ (a measurement of speed, power, reaction, agility and quickness) rating at the annual Clemson Nike Camp last May. The SPARQ rating weighs and combines a player’s 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuffle, vertical jump and bench press into a single number intended to measure overall athleticism.
Six players from the recruiting class call California home, with five from New Jersey, including fullback/linebacker Anthony Rotio from the Lawrenceville School, traditionally a hot-bed for lacrosse talent. Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Texas will each send three incoming freshman to the Crimson football program, while nine other states will each send a single player to Harvard.
—Staff writer Malcom A. Glenn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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