GLENWOOD SPRINGS — Dante Sparaco is taking a realistic look at his future.
“I fully realize that I still have three years of high school left,” the Glenwood Springs High School sophomore said on Wednesday.
He might have three years of high school remaining, but he has one college football scholarship offer already. Sparaco confirmed on Wednesday that he’d received an offer from Colorado State University football coach Jim McElwain in July following a football camp at Colorado State in Fort Collins.
“CSU has been really interested in me for almost a year now,” Sparaco said. “I really started talking to the about three-quarters of the way through my freshman year. We had a few conversations, and they invited me up to the camp.
“My goal when I went up there was just to compete, and I had the mentality that I was going to earn an offer when I was there,” he continued. “And they gave me one. I feel really blessed.”
Sparaco, who stands at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, is slated to be the Demons’ starting quarterback when they open the season Aug. 29 at Erie. He’s made unofficial visits to such Division I colleges like Notre Dame, Stanford and Colorado, but letters of interest he’s received have included Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Arizona, Southern California and, most recently, defending national champion Florida State.
He took a limited number of snaps behind starting quarterback Travis Lundin last season but made the most of them, completing 2-of-5 passes for 46 yards along with 102 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 11 carries. The biggest impact he made was on defense, where he had 67 tackles and three sacks as an outside linebacker.
McElwain, who was an offensive coordinator under Alabama coach Nick Sabin from 2008-2011, was given a five-year contract extension by CSU this week. Sparaco said he was offered the scholarship on July 27.
“That’s something I asked him about,” Sparaco said. “I said, ‘How do I know that you’re not going to leave before I get there in three years?’ He told me ‘I’ve already won my rings with Alabama and I’ve been with the best of the best. I want to build my legacy now, and I feel like Colorado State is the best school for me to do that.’”
The scholarship offer follows a recent trend of prep student athletes being recruited at early stages of their prep playing career. The NCAA places no limits on how early verbal scholarship offers can be made, though the earliest coaches can give a written offer to a student athlete is Aug. 1 of the athlete’s senior year. That means the soonest Sparaco can receive a written offer from a college or university would be August of 2016.
Until then, Sparaco plans to keep his options open.
“Right now, I’m just keeping my horizons open,” he said. “I’ve expressed that to [CSU] and they understand that. But I really do like coach Mac. I think he’s a great coach and a great guy.”