Bergen Catholic grad Daniel DeLorenzi breaks long-standing sacks record for Columbia
While growing up in Cedar Grove, New Jersey Daniel DeLorenzi said he was not very good baseball, having hurt his elbow in sixth grade. He did however love playing football and wrestling. When it came to making the decision in high school, playing at a bigger school and better program mattered to DeLorenzi the most. Simplifying the process was meeting with the wrestling coaches and Head Football Coach Nunzio Campanile from Bergen Catholic High School.
During his time at Bergen Catholic, DeLorenzi found more success on the mat than on the gridiron. A two-time All-Area Bergen County Wrestler, he compiled an overall record of 54-25 with 25 pins. The crowning achievement for DeLorenzi was a final bout, match-winning decision against Don Bosco Prep that helped the Crusaders win a state title.
“Wrestling at Bergen Catholic taught me how to use my body the right way and protect myself, said DeLorenzi. My freshman year I weighed 138 pounds. Wrestling with someone 50 or 60 pounds heavier definitely kept me in shape and taught me how to work really hard. My dad remembers that stuff from high school and me winning a state championship at BC and has the newspaper article framed in his office”
Despite not playing football his junior year, DeLorenzi finished his football career at Bergen Catholic on a solid note, registering 43 tackles, three and half sacks as the Crusaders went 7-4 and were ranked second in the state of New Jersey.
“Coach Nunz is an amazing guy and he will do anything for you and wants to be there and help you out, DeLorenzi said. A Dad to me and made sure you did the right thing. Not a better guy on this planet I would not want to play for and run through a brick wall for. The two things I took away from Coach Nunz is always finish what you start and you never give up and that is not an option. Being accountable and doing what you are supposed to do and being accountable to your brothers. The guy to your left and right is your brother and finding a way to get it done”
“I’m grateful for what I got from the school, a brotherhood and bonds you build with people and learn how to work as a team. You grow up to be a man and do things the right way”
Equally important to DeLorenzi the support from fans especially the Crusader Crazies.”The greatest feeling hearing them running down the street yelling and cheering. They brought that atmosphere you get typically in college football to a high school stadium and hear all your buddies screaming like maniacs”
Initially having committed to Princeton University before his senior season year started in 2015, DeLorenzi turned to a familiar face in Coach Campanile on whether he was making the correct decision. “It boiled down to football offers even while not being able to play high school football too much I was still able to wrestle all four year, said DeLorenzi”
“Coach Nunz said why don’t you go up to the Columbia(University) camp because they’re interested and want you to come by. I guess I did something right because at the end of the day they called me in to talk to the coaches and there was an offer. It took me two weeks to debate it because I had to rescind my acceptance offer to Princeton. It came down to playing football in college, I loved New York City and a great school. A long drawn out decision but really happy with the way it turned out”
Playing for a legendary head coach in Al Bagnoli made quite an impression on DeLorenzi. In his 37th year overall and fifth year as the head coach of the Lions football team, Bagnoli is the nation’s active winningest coach at any level and has won nine Ivy League titles.
“One of the coolest things as a football player is to play for someone who has so much history and done so much for multiple programs, said DeLorenzi. When we were coming in as freshman all the guys were buying in and committed because of who he was and capable of. Someone who could really bring a team together”
“A whole different culture here and not going to change anytime soon. What he has done here with our class has been something extra special and one of the best college stories in a long time. I think when he walks in and talks to everyone you can tell what is going on and focused. Things are being taken care of the right way and he has everything handled on the field”
Playing a pivotal role in DeLorenzi’s development as a defensive lineman the past four year has been defensive coordinator Paul Ferraro and defensive lineman coach Darin Edwards. “Coach Edwards has been huge for us the past three to four years and helping out the defensive line and helping me become a defensive lineman because I had no idea what I was doing, said DeLorenzi. He helped me build my skills, abilities and a big motivator”
“Coach Ferraro is the probably the most influential guy on the defensive side of the ball and coaches on the team and what he brings to the table. He helps us with what is going on out there and would not want to play for anyone else as the defensive coordinator. He pushes us almost to the level of expectation and something you want to do for him because he is a good guy”
A huge stepping stone for DeLorenzi occurred during his freshman year with the team practicing drills with the offensive line. “We were doing one on one’s and the coach told me to step up and perform the drill. I reverted back to wrestling with a push pull move where I push someone up and snap their head down and how I did on the wrestling mat” DeLorenzi said. “I never played defensive end and when I got here a new thing”
Seeing action mostly on third down situations DeLorenzi still ended up leading the team in sacks with four. Despite missing the second half of his sophomore year DeLorenzi managed to register two sacks. Last year proved to be DeLorenzi’s break out year setting the school record for most sacks in a season with nine and half and the first Columbia player to lead the Ivy League in sacks. In addition he led the Lions in tackles for loss, and was named to the First Team All-Ivy League.
“I missed a little bit of my freshman year, missed second half of my sophomore year and going into last summer I was coming off a knee injury and had the whole spring and summer to get back on my feet and go back to where I wanted to” said DeLorenzi. “I put in a lot of work and lifting with a trainer a couple of days a week and really panned out with all the statistics on the field”
Majoring in Psychology DeLorenzi says has provided an understanding of how to play the defensive end position and deal with teammates on the field. “Learning the patterns of your opponent, what they like to do and how they react when you do something and build a repertoire with the guy I’m going against. He has a feeling of what I’m going to do and I’m going to turn it into a chess match and ends up working out well”
“One of the things I learned through my studies is empathy and really important not just feeling badly for someone in a bad situation but working with other people so it helped me get along better with teammates and create better bonds and comes naturally to me. On the sidelines I try to understand where people are coming from and reading people and how they react. I’m talking to my buddies during the game and trying to keep people up and back into the game. One of the coolest parts of this team are the different personalities and places guys come from. Some of my best friends’ are from Tennessee and California. I played against Rory Schlageter who I was at Seton Hall Prep my senior year at Bergen Catholic. Fara’ad McCombs went to St. Joe’s and plays cornerback.”
This season DeLorenzi has soared to even greater heights, surpassing Lou Miller’s school record of most career sacks set in 2009 with 19. On October 12th against Central Connecticut State DeLorenzi broke the record with two sacks that increased his career total to 20.
“There are really big names around here with Marcellus Wiley and Josh Martin” said DeLorenzi. “It took me a couple of days to come to terms after I broke the record and special feeling to be considered among them. Some of the best players have come through Columbia University. My name on that list is exciting and makes all the hard work I had to do worth it the past three years”
With football taking up the majority of his time, DeLorenzi still has to remain focused on the task at hand which is school work. “Coming here a whole different game and I had to learn on the go but once I started making the changes I started doing well, DeLorenzi said. We traveled up to Dartmouth, on the ride up I had to finish an essay by 1 p.m. and writing it all night and had to wake up and proofread it and read it in between pre-game meetings”
“You have to get it done and have no other choice. A lot of teachers’ enjoy watching the football team. You get to talk about the games, they help out with scheduling, tutoring and there are resources to work around a very busy schedule and make our lives not that hard”
DeLorenzi is very thankful of the support he has received from his family. “My parents’ made the sacrifices over the years and my Dad works at Met Life Stadium,” DeLorenzi said. “They put forward the money with my training and helped me where I wanted to be and keep going forward. My Mom cooks meals from home and helps me with school stuff”
With aspirations of playing professional football, DeLorenzi is content with how it will all pan out. “If it doesn’t work out I will find somewhere to play and keep trying until someone tells me I’m not allowed to play anymore,” said DeLorenzi. “I love playing football and having success has given me an opportunity to continue and thankful for that. I want to get higher degrees in psychology, the meantime I want to get a job as a police officer because it runs in the family and I could do definitely well and get my master’s degree in and PhD and start practicing down the line”
For younger athletes wanting to keep playing football and reach their goals, DeLorenzi has this message for them. “Pick what you know that you can do and keep your head down and go work for it. I didn’t know that I was going to end up playing college football, all through high school trained for football and wrestling and knew either one was going to be my chance and worked hard for both and this opportunity opened up and what it’s about”
“Not going to be end of the world if Ohio State does not come knocking on your door but someone is going to want you to play football if you work and show people what you can do. If you really make the time and effort there is going to be an opportunity and somebody is going to want what you are giving”
Sunil Sunder Raj
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