May. 10, 2005
Beginning in 2006, Old Blues will be rooting for Big Red.
Heavily recruited Monte Vista High School lineman Mike Costanzo has orally committed to continue his football career at Cal. He can not make it official until national letter of intent day next February.
Costanzo, a first-team All-Times selection on both the offensive and defensive lines as a junior in 2004, is expected to focus on defense at Berkeley after playing out his senior year in high school.
"I'm looking to go to a college where I can get an education," said Costanzo, whose red hair and freckles long ago garnered him the nickname Big Red. "Cal's the best way to do that. It's the best education in the world. Plus, the football program, the way the coaches are and their philosophy appeals to me. They're building a crazy team -- they're on their way to a dynasty and a national championship. I want to be a part of that."
He also cited the proximity to his family's home in Danville as a factor, and said that he made an early decision so that he can focus on academics and football during his senior year.
At 6-foot-3, 300-pounds, Costanzo was one of the top two-way forces in the area last year, anchoring a Mustangs offensive unit that ranked No. 1 in total offense during the regular season at 458.3 yards per game. He also was a destructive force for a defense that allowed an average of just 238.6, good for seventh in the area.
Costanzo, the son of former Nebraska lineman Richard Costanzo, was the only player to be named first-team All Times both ways in 2004.
He first grabbed the attention of Cal coach Jeff Tedford at Cal's summer camp before his sophomore year, and was offered a scholarship about three weeks ago.
"They offered me as an offensive lineman because I've gotten more accolades on offense," Costanzo said. "But before I committed, we discussed for me to start out at defensive tackle. They said they think I can do well there, and that's where I want to play."
Costanzo was being recruited by virtually every other Pac-10 school. USC, Oregon and Nebraska were three of the most aggressive suitors he turned down in favor of the chance to play for Tedford and the Bears.
"The fact that they've changed a no-name football program into the No. 4 team in the nation in two years is unbelievable," Costanzo said. "I just felt like Cal's the way to go."
Another local defensive lineman, Isaac Leatiota of Wilcox-Santa Clara, also has orally committed to Cal.