Michael Cerisano strives for leadership and excellence on football team
Philip Zoppi – General Assignment Reporter
Michael Cerisano was one of the lone bright spots on the Southern Connecticut State University football team in the 2014 season.
Cerisano, an inside linebacker, took a huge leap in production last year compared to his freshman year. Now a junior, he reflected on what made him such a better football player.
“I worked really hard in the weight room during the offseason and the summer,” said Cerisano. “I knew I had to step up because we were losing linebackers from my freshman year.”
Cerisano stepped up in a big way, leading the team in total tackles with 98. He barely played on defense his freshman year. He contributed to the team more on special teams and didn’t get a chance to show what he could defensively. A year later, he led the team in tackles.
Tom Godek, Southern’s head coach, has been very impressed with Cerisano’s improvement as a player.
“Mike has really continued to grow at inside linebacker for us,” said Godek. “He’s made huge strides between freshman year and last season. Mike is not afraid of the weight room either. We’re looking for a big time season for him the third time around.”
The coaches are not only looking for a big year from Cerisano on the field but off the field as well. They want him to take a bigger leadership role on the team. Godek thinks that will be no problem for the star linebacker.
“We’re looking for him to step up and guide the younger guys behind him,” said Godek. “We want him to be a catalyst all year around whether it’s the weight room, school or community service. He’s starting to attach his face to the defense and he needs to know that there will be more things expected from him.”
It’s not just Godek who thinks that Cerisano has taken strides in his game. It’s the entire coaching staff.
Chris Lorenti, the defensive coordinator for the Owls’, believes that Cerisano now understands and plays the game with more confidence.
“Mentally, he’s learning more at playing defense at this level and understanding what offenses are trying to do,” said Lorenti. “He’s just a natural at defending the run. He knows his responsibility and what gap he has to defend.”
Cerisano tallied up 16 of his 98 total tackles in a win over Pace, one of the Owls’ two victories on the season. To go along with the 16 tackles he got 2 of his 4 sacks on the season against Pace. He was selected to NE-10 weekly honors for his performance.
As impressive as Cerisano was last year his goal is for the team to get better. That’s his main objective going into 2015.
“For the team, I just want to help them win and get to the NCAA playoffs,” said Cerisano. “For me, I want to get more tackles. I also want to improve on my drops and turns in coverage”
One of the weaknesses that Cerisano is working on is his pass coverage ability. His coaches and himself recognize that it’s an area that can be improved.
Lorenti thinks Cerisano is more than capable of becoming a solid pass coverage linebacker.
“Pass coverage is definitely an area he’s been working on,” said Lorenti. “He’s made great strides in it compared to his freshmen year, though.”
Lorenti finished his Southern career with 176 tackles in his playing day. Cerisano looks to pass his position coach this year.
Photo Credit: Tyler Korponai – Photo Editor