Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer
ERIE — There are the inevitable questions that Cameron Marcucci always gets when he meets somebody for the first time.
“How’s the weather up there?”
“Have you always been this big?”
“Can you grab that for me?”
And, of course, “Do you play basketball?”
Without fail, the 6-foot-8, 290-pound Erie senior answers them with a smile on his face.
And, for the record — he doesn’t play basketball.
“I was waiting for that one,” he said with a chuckle.
Marcucci is the opposite of what you might expect for someone his size and he doesn’t let it define who he is. He is an eclectic member of the Tigers student body that has endeared himself to his fellow classmates, teachers and administrators by making the most out of high school experience.
“He’s a human magnet. When you look at someone who stands out because of their size, you don’t think they are going to have the total package, but he really does,” said Erie athletic director Justin Carpenter, who doesn’t shy away from going to Marcucci for music suggestions. “He does great in class, he does great with our freshmen student-athletes. He’s not your typical jock, and that doesn’t mean he doesn’t work hard. He’s into music, he goes to a lot of concerts and he is friends with a lot of people in the school.”
Marcucci is used to standing out. An only child, who was destined to be big — his dad is also 6-foot-8 — Marcucci came to grips with his size at an early age.
“When I first played football when I was really young, I was just a lot bigger than everybody else was,” said Marcucci, whose musical tastes range from the Foo Fighters to the Gorillaz and everyone in between.
He still is.
It is obvious when he is on the field and the murmurs from the opposing side are all about No. 79. Curiosity tends to get the better of the opposition in the postgame handshake.
He has turned it into a game of sorts, but his favorite question still remains, “What do you eat? And I just say, everything. It makes me laugh … and I like to count the comments on how many are tall comments made.”
Marcucci, who at one point gave up the sport because he said “I just didn’t find it interesting,” got back into it in eighth grade and has slowly developed into one of the best in the region.
“He has come a long way in the last year since I’ve been head coach with his size and his strength. His size helps him get leverage on guys and when you’re 6-8, 290 its helps move people out of the way and that is definitely a huge asset for us,” said Erie coach Chad Cooper, whose team is off to a 2-0 start.
“His athleticism has come a long way, and one of the first things I noticed when we were doing spring drills is that his feet were so much better than they were last year and that is a testament to his hard work in the weight room and on the practice field in the spring and in the summer. That is sometimes what big men can struggle with because they have so much to move and that hasn’t been his problem this year. There is stuff we are still working on and there is still room to grow.”
The Tigers were just one of the many team that attended the CSU-Pueblo camp this summer and even there, he started to garner attention from coaches at the next level. That is a concept Marcucci, after earlier giving up the game, never thought would happen.
But it has and nationally, he has drawn interest from Big Ten schools Nebraska and Minnesota as well as locals at Northern Colorado and Colorado State.
“I’ve always had the dream to play in college and now it is becoming more and more real,” said Marcucci, who sits in with a student leadership group each week and talks about goals and how to reach them.
Said Carpenter, who called Marcucci an endearing sole: “We are really hopeful that he will have a chance to play somewhere in college as a result of his size. Regardless though, he is going to be successful in college just because of the type of person he is.”
And his head coach believes that Marcucci has the ability, too.
“I believe he can. Last year at this time, I didn’t know if he could play at a larger school, but when you are that size, it intrigues college coaches and the one thing he can improve upon is his strength … but that is one thing college coaches look at and say I can do that,” Cooper said. “With as far as he’s come in the last year, I would recommend him to most schools. I know he can play college football because I have seen him compete against some really good players and he has the size and the tools to compete at the next level.”
A Los Angeles Rams fan, Marcucci is embracing his final year at Erie with arms wide open. He is also a member of the track team, but his first focus is with the football team and making a deep playoff run with the much improved Tigers.