It looks like former Catholic Memorial offensive lineman Garrett Fitzgerald will be playing football for the University of Massachusetts next season, but he sure took a roundabout path to get there.
UMass offered Fitzgerald a walk-on spot last week. Fitzgerald, a 6-foot-5, 325-pound sophomore, enrolled at UMass last fall.
“I just want to play,” Fitzgerald said. “I'm not worried about a scholarship. If money comes that's great. If not, that's OK. I'm just happy with a walk-on spot.”
Although several FBS and FCS schools showed interest in Fitzgerald during his senior season at CM, he ended up playing Division II football for St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. He left St. Anselm after the 2010 season and enrolled at Monroe Community College, a school in Rochester, N.Y., that does not have a football program.
“St. Anselm just wasn't a good fit for me at the end of the day,” Fitzgerald said. “My grades weren't good. My father lives in Rochester, so I went there [Monroe] to just focus on my grades.”
He was accepted by several colleges after his time at Monroe, but said he chose UMass because of its Sports Management Program.
“I applied to a bunch of schools with the intent of just being a student because after my time at St. Anselm I wasn't sure if I wanted to play football, but after a semester at UMass I decided I wanted to give it another try,” Fitzgerald said. “I emailed the coaches and they got right back to me with a list of things I have to do.”
Fitzgerald, who lives in West Roxbury, said Boston College, Maryland, Penn State, New Hampshire and UMass are the schools that recruited him the most during his high school career. He played guard during his one season at St. Anselm.
“My grades weren't good enough for BC,” he said. “UMass wanted to offer me, but couldn't because that was the year Northeaster and Hofstra dropped football and they had to take those kids in.
“I was also offered a walk-on spot at Oregon pending acceptance to the school, but that didn't happen. I was pretty excited when I found out about in invitation at UMass.”
Harvard, Yale, Holy Cross and Colgate were among the schools in the mix for Jake Stalcup, a 6-foot-5, senior quarterback from Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Vt. Stalcup passed on all of his Division I opportunities, however, and announced earlier this month that he would continue his football career at Division III Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vt.
Stalcup passed for 2,613 yards and 31 touchdowns as a senior. He was named Vermont's Gatorade Player of the Year following his junior season, when he threw for 2,587 yards and 31 TDs and led BBA to the Division II championship game.
Middlebury quarterback McCallum Foote, a junior, set a NESCAC record for passing yards (2,897) and passing touchdowns (31) last season. He also led the nation in average completions per game (32).
Nick Peabody, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound quarterback from Barnstable High School, committed to Princeton last Thursday.
Peabody guided Barnstable to a 12-1 record last season, when the passed for 2,627 yards and 34 touchdowns. He also carried the ball 73 times for 366 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior.
Barnstable's only loss came against Everett in the Division IA Super Bowl.
Peabody visited Princeton earlier this month.
Boston College High School linebacker/fullback Luke Catarius committed to Bryant University on Saturday.
Catarius, who lives in Sandwich, missed most of the 2012 season with a broken bone in his right ankle. He suffered the injury during BC High's first preseason scrimmage. Catarius, who also had an offer from Colgate, led BC High in tackles (129) during his junior season.
He'll join Xaverian linebacker Hunter Taute, who committed to Bryant earlier this month.
Five New England players from the Class of 2013 have committed to UMass: defensive end Cole Ormsby/Windsor High School (Conn.); quarterback Todd Stafford/Greenwich High School (Conn.); defensive end/offensive lineman Terrel Correia/Nantucket High School; offensive lineman Tyshon Henderson/St. George's School (R.I.); and linebacker/defensive end Peter Ngobidi/Catholic Memorial.
The Minutemen are also among the schools pursuing Portsmouth (N.H.) defensive tackle Ricky Holt, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound senior.
Recruiting information about high school or prep school football players in New England can be sent to Roger Brown at email@example.com.