Cecchetti's leadership sets tone

“Akron head coach J.D. Brookhart has talked about his continuing goal of recruiting high-character student-athletes who excel both in the classroom and on the football field. He has a model of his ideal recruit on this year’s team in senior defensive tackle Jared Cecchetti.”

Akron head coach J.D. Brookhart has talked about his continuing goal of recruiting high-character student-athletes who excel both in the classroom and on the football field.

He has a model of his ideal recruit on this year’s team in senior defensive tackle Jared Cecchetti.

Coming out of Kane High School in Kane, Pennsylvania, Cecchetti was not highly recruited. He had good high school statistics, leading his team in tackles during his sophomore through senior seasons, but his size – even for smaller Division I schools – was a concern.

The determination and effort Cecchetti displayed on his recruiting video made Brookhart want to take a look at him while recruiting his first class at Akron.

Cecchetti accepted a scholarship offer shortly after and proved immediately that the work ethic he showcased in his recruiting video was the real deal.

Jared came in as a borderline guy as far as his size, Brookhart said. We may have been his only Division I scholarship offer.

When he got here, we saw in person what we saw on film. He is a fighter.

Cecchetti would be one of only six true freshmen to see playing time in 2004, serving as a reserve defensive lineman in nine games. His role with the team grew more prominent each year. The 6-foot-2, 270-pound nose tackle has participated in 33 out of the 36 games the Zips have played while he’s been on the roster.

In 2006, Cecchetti became a starter for the first time in his career, starting all 12 games on the defensive line alongside Jermaine Reid and Kiki Gonzalez.

Defensive line coach Dana Chambers, attributes Cecchetti’scontinued success to his drive to improve and his passion for the game.

He’s a good, hard worker, Chambers said. He likes the game of football and has a lot of pride in what he’s doing.

Cecchetti has improved his agility and body strength from last season, Chambers said.

The defensive tackle credits UA strength and conditioning coach Dan Bailey for much of his development during his career at UA.

Coach Bailey has done a great job with me, Cecchetti said. He’s had me running a lot, doing all these agility drills and lifting hard every day. I believe I’ve gotten a lot better from all his drills and his work that he’s made me go through.

Now that he is the veteran of the defensive line, Cecchetti’s role has shifted from understudy to leader by example. He’s excited to assume that responsibility and help teach some of the younger defensive linemen, as Reid and Gonzalez did for him, he said.

I’m really excited to teach other people, because that’s what I like to do, to help other people, Cecchetti said. I like to help teach Eric (Lively) and Wally (Wallace Pendleton), give them my advice that I learned from Kiki, Jermaine and all of them, so they can become better players as well.

Chambers said that Cecchetti has embraced the leadership role and will be counted on heavily this year.

He’s been a good senior leader for us, the second-year assistant coach said. He does a good job on the field and off the field. (He’s) somebody that we’re going to have to count on to play a lot of snaps for us this year because we’re going to be young up front defensively.

Cecchetti is also on Brookhart’s leadership council, a group of players who serve as a liaison between the players and coaching staff.

The work ethic Cecchetti displays on the football field is the same in the classroom. Cecchetti maintains a 3.55 cumulative GPA in physical education.

Talking to Cecchetti, it is evident that the senior has goals that span far beyond the football field.

I came to college to get an education and to play football, but first is education, Cecchetti said. That is the most important. First you need to do that before you can do anything on the field.

Cecchetti leads by example – in the weight room, during practice, on game day and in the classroom, Brookhart stated.

He is a definite leader by the example he sets, Brookhart said. He sets the standard and hopes others follow his lead.

Cecchetti said Reid and Gonzalez advised him to never give in to anything and to always play hard; but from talking to members of the Zips coaching staff, it is evident that he learned that lesson long before ever donning a Zips uniform.


” #1.1361937:246637019.jpg:Cechetti done.jpg:Defensive tackle Jared Cecchetti overcame a lack of recuiting interest from Division I football teams to lead the Zips.:Mike Piero / The Buchtelite”