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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Friday, August 6, 2010

By Sammy Batten

A smash-mouth sport of his own

N. Guilford star departs from Dad's path and unleashes
aggression on the gridiron instead of in the ring

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

Rocky Scarfone didn't want his son, Rocco Jr., to follow in his athletic footsteps and become a boxer. He was afraid his son might get hurt.

So instead, Rocky encouraged his son to take up a less violent sport — football.

“I tried to get into it, but he wouldn't let me,'' Rocco Jr. said. “He had to quit himself because his ear drum had been damaged so many times that he was afraid he might go deaf. He didn't want me to risk getting hurt like he did.''

Dropping the gloves and picking up the pigskin proved to be good advice as Rocco Jr. has developed into one of the top prep quarterbacks in the state of North Carolina.

A three-year varsity starter at Northern Guilford High School in Greensboro, Scarfone caught the attention of East Carolina's previous coaching staff as a junior when he completed 122 of 197 passes for 2,303 yards and 29 touchdowns.

The staff of new head coach Ruffin McNeill picked up the recruitment of Scarfone after getting settled and on June 21 nailed down a verbal commitment.

The 5-foot-11, 165-pounder chose the Pirates over an offer from Coastal Carolina. He was receiving interest from schools like Duke, Northwestern, N.C. State, Virginia and Wake Forest.

“My family and I just thought it was (ECU) was the place I best fit in,'' Scarfone said. “The coaching staff is really great and academically it's a very good school.''

Scarfone said he really became interested in ECU after taking an unofficial visit to Greenville in November of last season to watch the Pirates defeat UAB, 37-21. But during the interim between Skip Holtz leaving for South Florida and McNeill getting his staff in place, Scarfone lost touch with the Pirates for a brief time.

He was soon invited back to Greenville by McNeill's staff to work out at ECU's summer camp. A scholarship offer soon followed that camp appearance.

“The offered two or three weeks after camp,'' Scarfone said. “I pretty much was sold on them by time. I talked to my mom and dad to make sure, and then made it final.''

The Pirates have recruited Scarfone to play free safety. Although he's best known for his play at quarterback, Scarfone isn't a stranger to the secondary.

He was named defensive player of the year for his recreation team playing in the secondary, and when he reached the ninth grade at Northern Guilford he was asked to play both ways. On defense, that meant splitting time between cornerback and safety as the first-year school played a junior varsity schedule.

“I had nine interceptions and took three of them back to the house for touchdowns,'' Scarfone said.

The following season, which was Northern Guilford's first as a varsity program, Scarefone started at quarterback and cornerback. He's played both positions ever since.

“It's been a dream come true because since recreation and middle school I looked up to the high school players and now I'm actually one of them,'' Scarfone said.

Scarfone has been fortunate to suit up with some major talent at Northern Guilford. Last season his receiving corps featured two Football Bowl Subdivision players in Keenan Allen and Maurice Harris. Allen will be a freshman at California this season, while Harris has made a verbal commitment to play for the Bears in 2011.

“I've played with those guys from rec league on up,'' Scarfone said. “They always stood out. Having both those guys at receiver was like heaven for a quarterback. They were like a security blanket for me out there on the field.''

Scarfone also teamed with Allen in the secondary, where he says his strengths are speed and athleticism.

“I think I cover people really well,'' Scarfone said. “I have good speed and a good vertical. I don't think anybody can beat me on a jump ball.

“I have some work to do in the weight room before I get to East Carolina. But the coaching staff has told me the best will play, so if I work hard enough I'll have the chance to get on the field early. My goal is not to let anyone outwork me.''

Scarfone said he inherited that fighting spirit from his father, who will sometimes engage in some good-natured sparring.

“I lose every time,'' Scarfone said. “It makes me glad I went with football instead of boxing.''

E-mail Sammy Batten

Sammy Batten's Archives

08/06/2010 02:56:33 AM


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