By Matt Bracken
The Baltimore Sun
9:04 AM EDT, August 22, 2012
There wasn’t a doubt in Marco Pizzoferrato’s mind that Andrew Isaacs had the potential to play college football. The Manchester (Conn.) High football coach first spotted the recent Marylandcommitment at a middle school meet-and-greet five years ago and couldn’t help but think about the day Isaacs would join his varsity squad.
“He was an above-average looking athlete,” Pizzoferrato recalled. “We had to find out about the work ethic, but he came to school and the proof was in the pudding.”
The proof for Pizzoferrato came when Isaacs made the honor roll his freshman year and immediately emerged as an “extremely dedicated” weight-room participant. Freshman year was a harbinger of things to come for Isaacs, who switched his commitment to Maryland from Boston College last week. A four-star prospect, Isaacs is the top-ranked player in Connecticut, the No. 7 tight end nationally and the No. 224 player in the country according to Rivals.com.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound future Terp wasn’t a secret to college coaches in New England for very long. In filling out prospect interest forms for schools, Pizzoferrato cited Isaacs’ “size, attitude, strength and potential” as reasons to recruit the young tight end. Boston College and Connecticut were sold right away, offering Isaacs scholarships during his sophomore year.
“He was the total package,” Pizzoferrato said. “What I heard from the beginning is No. 1, he’s an NFL tight end now in terms of … athletically. Coaches said they haven’t seen a kid with his athleticism, his hips, his hands and his speed all in one frame. Usually you get a blocker or a catcher. He has very soft hands, and obviously he can catch well. He’s very fluid in all his movements, the way he moves and blocks. He’s the total package in terms of being able to do all those things. He’s 6-3, 240 pounds, he works his tail off and he pretty much can do anything you want – block, catch, run. He’s got all the tools for the position.”
Isaacs was mostly used as a decoy as a junior. In Manchester’s “pro-style spread offense,” Isaacs saw time as an H-back, fullback, tight end and wide receiver. He also started at defensive end, where Pizzoferrato said he “single-handedly shut down that side of the offensive line for the remainder of the year.” In college, Pizzoferrato expects Isaacs to be a pass-catching threat as soon as he gets acclimated to college.
“I think Andrew can prove himself on the inside, especially being in single coverage,” Pizzoferrato said. “There aren’t many linebackers on the inside that can match up with him and really keep him down on the stat sheet here. I think he’s going to be able to be a really big factor on the inside in the passing game. It helps their flexibility of being able to vary their formations because of his ability to play wide receiver as well as tight end.”
From Nov. 2010 until last week, the BC coaching staff expected to be the beneficiary of Isaacs’ talents. But the Terps were able to change Isaacs’ mind thanks to the university’s broadcast journalism program. Isaacs, who moved to Connecticut in elementary school to live with his aunt after his parents died, has wanted to “to be on TV since he was a kid,” his coach said. Once he visited College Park and saw the amount of resources Maryland devotes to its broadcast journalism program, Isaacs’ mind was made up.
“The switch, No. 1, was [because of] academics. Broadcasting is so important to him,” Pizzoferrato said. “He’s an orphan, but he has always been very regimented and focused on making the best for himself. He knew he was going to be on TV. This was kind of his way. He could be playing sports, or broadcasting about sports. A lot of his goals early on in elementary school are kind of coming to fruition.”
In Isaacs, Pizzoferrato said Maryland is getting “the real deal” athletically and academically. The Manchester coach said his star player is excited to join a Maryland team that has added several notable offensive recruits in recent months.
“He can’t beat the fact that Maryland has a sooner opportunity to play in terms of their depth chart, as well as who they’re recruiting,” Pizzoferrato said. “They’re bringing in the No. 5 offensive lineman in his class [Derwin Gray], and got the No. 1 wide receiver [Stefon Diggs] the year before. The quarterback coming in [Shane Cockerille] is No. 11 in this class. It’s kind of hard to [turn down a chance] to play with those kind of kids athletically.”
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