Xaverian's Gaziano commits to Northwestern

Xaverian High junior defensive end Joe Gaziano has verbally committed to Northwestern University for the fall of 2015, he announced last night on his Twitter account.

The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Gaziano was named ESPN Boston's Defensive Player of the Year last season after leading the Hawks into the MIAA Division 1 State Championship, their first appearance since 2009. Leading one of the state's top defenses, Gaziano recorded 53 tackles, 12 sacks, three blocked punts and an interception. He also set the edge as an in-line tight end on offense, and handled kicking duties on special teams.

"Joe is a really outstanding student and he's interested in pursuing medicine, so I think he really focused on the medical school aspect when he went out there," Xaverian head coach Charlie Stevenson said. "Other than that...He was comfortable out there, and that's kinda what he based his decision on. He didn't want to go through the process anymore, he felt happy enough with that."

Gaziano also held offers from Boston College, UMass, Rutgers and Vanderbilt at the time of his commitment.

"Joe is a tremendous athlete, smart kid, he's a tough kid," Stevenson said. "I think he's presently the 19th-rated defensive end in the country -- I think he's better than that myself, but that’s for others to decide. He's one of the best players we've ever had, and he's a really great representative of Massachusetts football."