By Jean DePlacido
---- — St. John’s Prep linebacker Sean Smerczynski was heavily recruited, but when Holy Cross offered him a full football scholarship the Topsfield resident, who will be a senior next season, knew that was where he wanted to play.
It took a while for his transcript to be processed and things to be completed, but when Smerczynski heard it was a done deal yesterday afternoon it didn’t take long for him to verbally commit.
“I am so excited and Holy Cross is where I want to be,” said Smerczynski, who played a key role in leading the Eagles to the Division 1 Super Bowl this past year. “I had a lot of really good choices, but Holy Cross was the only one that offered me even though others said they were going to.
“I wanted to have the decision made before our pre-season camp started and although I haven’t made an official visit, I’ve been there several times. The first time I saw the campus I fell in love with it. I couldn’t ask for a better place to play.”
Smerczynski has been a starter at linebacker since his freshman year and is one of the hardest hitters on the team. He had been battling Lucas Bavaro and Alex Moore for most tackles made in the season, and during the playoffs passed both of them to finish with a team high 79. He had six tackles for losses, a sack, and two fumble recoveries. Fans would always find Smerczynski’s No. 44 right in the thick of things, putting pressure on the quarterback.
“I’ve been to Holy Cross the most times of any school except Harvard where my Dad went (former Prep captain and Harvard star Mike Smerzynski). I’m going to the Holy Cross camp on Sunday for a one day event where a lot of recruits will be. It will feel so good to have already committed,” he said.
‘Smuz’, a Catholic Conference first team all-star, plans to go for his official visit later and spend time with George Sessoms of Peabody, who is a former Prep captain and now a Crusader linebacker. The coaches have already told him they plan to keep him at inside linebacker.
“When I talked to coach (Tom) Gilmore he said that’s where they are projecting me to play. They said my weight (220) is good, and they are fine with my height (5-11). I’ll get a bunch of pointers at the camp, and know I’ve got to keep hitting the weights,” said Smuz
Smerczynski was heavily recruited by Yale, Brown, Dartmouth, Colgate, UMass, Colby, Amherst, Bowdoin, Elon, Georgetown, UNH, and Bryant among others.
“It’s a good choice for Sean,” said Prep coach Jim O’Leary. “Academically he’s a very good student. He’s also a very intense kid in the classroom, the weight room, and on the field. He found a spot he loves, and the pressure is off.
“Sean has always been a very hard worker, and I know he’ll continue to work just as hard in his senior year. The recruiting season has become so escalated now. Schools want to land their recruits early, and Sean felt good about the school and the coaches. They intend to keep him at inside linebacker which is the perfect position for him. He’s very happy, and I know they are glad to get him.”
Smerczynski is glad he can enjoy his senior year and not worry about sending in transcripts and waiting to see where he will be spending the next four years.
“Right now I’m concentrating on my senior year,” he said. “Winning a Super Bowl was great, but we want another one. We have record high numbers in the weight room, and everybody is working very hard because we all want to repeat.”