February 2, 2009

Rainieri ready for signing day

There are trade-offs with every decision you make in life and for Orlando quarterback Nico Rainieri leaving Florida to take a scholarship at Colorado State is measured in sauce and pasta. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound signal caller from the Sunshine State says he comes from an Italian family that knows how to cook.

"My great-grandpa came from Italy and all we eat is Italian," Rainieri said. "My favorite food is mom's pasta with a special sauce that is a family recipe. At Christmas we have ravioli. At Thanksgiving we have turkey with a side of lasagna. We eat nothing but Italian.

"Italian restaurants are different from home cooking. I don't know if a restaurant can touch what I get now," he added.

While he will be without his mom's cooking, Rainieri is looking forward to calling Fort Collins home. This season Rainieri completed 173 passes on 280 attempts for 2,496 yards and 26 touchdowns. He threw seven interceptions and averaged 208 yards passing per game. The efforts have netted Raineri a lot of attention from colleges, other than Colorado State.

"Central Florida came in, Iowa State came in and I showed a lot of interest - probably too much," Rainieri said. "I made some difficult phone calls, had a few stressful nights, but now that everything is said-and-done, I am with Colorado State. That is where I will be signing on Wednesday."

While it has been a long process, Rainieri said he isn't real excited about the prospect of an early signing period.

"I think the way signing day works now is the perfect time," he said. "This process is long, drawn out and stressful. A lot of players will get recruited in-season. The recruiting isn't as strong as it is in-season, just because colleges are in-season as well. This gives colleges a chance to recruit and guys who aren't all-americans a chance to win a scholarship. Being that it is in Feb. is probably perfect timing."

Wednesday, Rainieri said he will be one of three Dr. Phillips High School football players to sign with an NCAA Division I program. The ceremony will include photos, interviews and a cook-out put on by one of the prospect's families. It will be the end of a long recruiting relationship with Colorado State that started during the football season.

"The only thing I knew about CSU (when they started to recruit me) is that is where MoMo (CSU cornerback Gerard Thomas) is going to school," Rainieri said. "I didn't know the conference, where in Colorado it was, I just knew they were very interested. After a week or two talking to them it was clear to me that I was the guy they wanted and I needed to do my research.

"I got along with a lot of the players and I liked the area. It was different from what I expected and I liked what I saw. I had a great time with the coaches. The coaches are what really sold me. Their personalities. It just felt right.

Rainieri said an in-home visit from CSU Head Coach Steve Fairchild and his recruiting coach Pat Meyer sealed the deal. He said his parents loved the visit from Fairchild and a half hour after the coach left the house, he got a phone call offering his commitment.

"I want to go and compete and try to earn the job," Rainieri said of his goals for CSU. "Coach Fairchild told me the ideal plan for me would be to redshirt and next year my goal would be to start and start at the program for four years. That is my goal, that is what I am going to work for. I have always been a starter from Pop Warner to my freshman year in high school. I have never had to sit behind someone while I was eligible."

While Rainieri is expected to be a big contributer down the road at CSU, his future teammates might be wise to keep an eye out around the signalcaller, who says he is a bit of a prankster.

"I am serious when I need to be serious, but I am one to pull pranks," Rainieri said. "Two or three hours before games, I would be in the locker room throwing ice at people and doing stuff like that. When I was on my visit to Iowa State, I was at the basketball game sitting behind Pooh Bear Mars who was wearing a hoodie. I filled his hood with peanuts and when he put his hood on it spilled peanuts all over his shirt."

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