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The Strange Case of Kevin Macari

After a brilliant high school career, Kevin Macari of New Canaan didn't receive one scholarship offer. The question that still needs to be answered is: why?

National Signing Day has long since come and gone. High school football stars put pen to paper in February, declaring their intentions, while receiving full-scholarships to play at Division I schools.

But there is one question that has lingered around the state, and that still needs to be answered: Why didn't Kevin Macari, a bona fide, gifted star for New Canaan, get even one scholarship offer?

"I've never seen anything like it in my 30 years of coaching," Lou Marinelli, the legendary coach of , said. "It was like musical chairs. All these coaches from these big time programs had a lot of interest in Kevin. They talked with him, and had visits with him. But when the music stopped, not one of them could just pull the trigger and offer him a scholarship." 

Macari, who was an all-state receiver, is a borderline athletic freak. He has size, (6'2", 210lbs) speed (4.5 40-yard dash), and off the charts athletic ability. Search YouTube for his game against Darien and watch him dunk the ball over the goal-posts. Macari makes it look easy, but that is no easy feat.

"It's mystifying," said Bo Hickey, an assistant coach at New Canaan, and a former NFL player with the Denver Broncos. "Macari is as good a high school player as I've ever seen, and he has what you can't time with a stop watch or find on film. And that's heart. He deserved better."

Macari, who caught 60 passes for over 1,200 yards during his senior year, received letters and phone calls from more than 50 major college programs. Coaches visited him at New Canaan High School. Miami offered him the opportunity to be preferred walk-on. He thought for sure that he'd get at least one scholarship offer.

"It's disappointing," Macari, who scored 20 touchdowns in 13 games as a senior, said. "I went to camps and combines and thought I measured up with some of the players who were getting scholarships."

There have been great players who have slipped through the cracks and been overlooked before Macari, and there will be a lot of players bypassed after him. College football recruiting is just like most things in life, littered with politics and uncertainty. 

"When I was at Boston College as an assistant," Marinelli said. "I wanted this big, left-handed quarterback from Long Island. But our recruiting coordinator was after some kid in Washington D.C. He, of course, won out. That kid I was recruiting was Boomer Esiason. Things happen and sometimes it just turns into a numbers game."

Why didn't UConn, an up-and-coming program, show any interest in a player who was a high school phenom,  playing right in their own backyard?  

"Randy Edsall (now the head coach at Maryland) didn't recruit that hard in Connecticut," said Macari. In fact, only 12 of 97 players on the Huskies team that went to the Fiesta Bowl, hailed from the Nutmeg state.  

"And by the time Paul Pasqualoni (new head coach at UConn) was named the coach, it was pretty much too late and all the offers had been made," Macari said. 

But don't feel entirely bad for Macari. His football skills helped him get into Georgetown, one of the elite academic schools in the country. Most high school seniors would do just about anything to get a degree from there. Macari will get the opportunity to play right away as a member of the Hoyas football team.

"They throw the ball 50 times a game,  so that should be good.  It's a great opportunity that I'm looking forward to," said Macari. 

The NFL is peppered with players who were overlooked in high school, walked-on at college, and blossomed into great players. Clay Matthews, Jr, who wasn't half the player Macari was in high school, walked-on at USC, mainly because his dad was an all-american there. He didn't do anything until his senior year, where he developed into a first-round pick and later, a Pro Bowl linebacker with the Green Bay Packers. Macari's goal is still to get to the NFL despite not being offered a scholarship for college.

"That's every kid's dream, to play in the NFL. I'm just going to work hard like I always have, and see what happens". Macari said. "If it doesn't work out, I'll still have a degree from Georgetown."

The question of why Kevin Macari wasn't offered a scholarship may never be adequately answered. He is a person of impeccable character and mind-boggling athletic skills. But one thing is certain,  he's one of the best players the state of Connecticut has ever seen.

Pem McNerney (Editor) April 06, 2011 at 11:27 AM
Interesting story. And he's going to Georgetown? That's a great school. Hopefully he picked it because it's a great school and he'll get a good education there. As for football scholarships ... I have a nephew who was offered a football scholarship to a small school in Ohio. The irony is that he never played football. Things like that, and this story, have to make you wonder about the system. Anyway, glad this guy is going to a great school and hope he is very happy there.
MPM April 06, 2011 at 11:45 AM
Good for Kevin Macari getting into a top notch school using his head and his grades - I'm sure he'll make New Canaan proud. Good luck to him! Why, though, was the collective New Canaan football family unable to work the same magic for Kevin that they did for a player in '09 who arrived after the football program started, displaced the starting quarterback and left town almost as soon as football season was over? Despite the public statements that the family was here for the long haul, that student and his family made it well known at his "other" high school (one of the best football high schools in the country) and their local community that he was only in New Canaan for the season and only for football. Why couldn't New Canaan's football community help one of their own?
Observer April 06, 2011 at 01:46 PM
Come'on man. "Same magic"?? There was no magic last year. Beatty was a very good HS QB who apparently never had the verbal offers that it somehow was reported that he had. His case is unrelated to Macari, except to say that if Beatty had targeted Patriot league teams, he would probably be on a roster. Back to Macari. College football coaches have scarce resources to allocate. They have enormous rosters in upper level Division 1, and they are largely filled by lower income kids who require 100% scholarships. Connecticut as a state does not have a reputation for producing tough athletes, and Fairfield county the most well-off area in the state. Also, college coaches make mistakes all the time. Brett Gardner, the Yankee centerfielder, had to beg his way onto his college team after being cut. Also, refer to the decade old SI article in the link below. There is something to it, I think, especially at programs who are in contention for conference and national championships. http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1011593/index.htm All that said, Macari will rewrite the Hoya record books, I predict.
George Simpson April 06, 2011 at 02:01 PM
D-1 football consumes a massive amount of time that could otherwise be spent having a well rounded educational college experience. Add to that the almost certainty of injury (many of which become chronic lifetime conditions) and going to a great school like Georgetown and avoiding the pitfalls of using college as a gateway to the NFL (a long shot at the very best) is not such a bad thing. As Kevin will realize when he gets a little older.
Rich Mercado April 07, 2011 at 04:12 AM
Kevin was and is super on the field. But his education is far more valuable. I hope we all get to see him play football at a school that wants him as a person first. Any collage would be lucky to have such a fine young man that happens to be a fine football player.
Henri April 07, 2011 at 04:50 PM
Probably 10,000 others out there that are just a little bit better than him.
art brown April 08, 2011 at 02:24 AM
BROWN Macari is a big white kid who college coaches assume does not have seperation speed. That's what this is all about. UCONN got stuck with many unsold bowl tickets. They don't get it. No one down here really cares about UCONN football. If for no other reason., take him just to generate some interest. Macari could play anyplace. How about playing H back? The kid is the real thing. Many of these college coaches are no geniuses.
mary parker April 08, 2011 at 11:49 PM
It's too bad he was passed up, but at least he will play for Georgetown. Now he just needs to keep up the good work and show these other colleges what they missed out on. I hope he goes all the way to the NFL. He not only has the skills, but the determination and most of all the HEART. Keep up the devotion Kevin, don't give up. Show them ALL!!!!!!!!! Good Luck.

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