His name is Joe Spaziani and he is a football player who wants to be a football coach. He is also a coach’s son (his father is former Boston College football coach Frank Spaziani).
Right now, he is living part of his dream as a walk-on football long-snapper on a University of Virginia team which is one of the surprise teams of the season, posting a 5-1 record going into Saturday’s game against Boston College.
That is a surprise because a year ago the Cavs were 2-10.
But this is not a tale of the job that Cavalier coach Bronco Mendenhall has done in reviving Virginia football.
This is a feel good story about what college football can be about if you cut out the sleaze factor that the infusion of money and television has injected into the system. If you go beyond the headlines and the sound bites and go into the trenches.
It is a story of how Spaziani, a solid three-sport performer at Hingham (Ma.) High school with skills which made him a likely FCS performer, refocused after the disappointment of seeing his senior season end in football end with a broken leg.
Spaziani is and has always been a jock. He was also intrigued by the profession of his father, who is currently the defensive coordinator at New Mexico State. While some kids playing football dream of the next level, whether it is college for the National Football League, Joe Spaziani focused early on his career goal.
“”A football coach,” he said with a smile five years ago when he was making a decision about where to go to college.
“A football coach,” he said by phone from UVA last week when asked about his future after three and a half years in the UVA football program. “But this has been fun.”
“This” is his current status on the UVA team, which began as more of a hope when he came to UVA as a “preferred’ walk-on player.
That meant he wasn’t offered a scholarship, but he was invited to training camp by former Cavalier coach Mike London.
“”I came here and just absorbed things” said Spaziani, who was a QB in high school. “”I would go to the meetings, go to the work outs.,Try and learn what I could.”
But he was a practice player, an ACC version of Rudy, the Notre Dame walk-on player who simply wanted to be part of ND tradition. Spaziani only dressed for a few games, didn’t make the trips on the road. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.