Brandon Merlino, John Jay’s standout
midfielder, has made his college choice.
(File photo by Jim Stout/MaxPreps.com)
John Jay rising senior Brandon Merlino is on a family vacation to his grandfather’s native Sicily today.
But that didn’t stop him from taking time out to make one of the most important decisions of his life.
The midfielder just gave a verbal commitment to attend Division I power University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
The 5-foot-8, 185-pound Merlino, who is fresh of an impressive showing at the Battle of the Hotbeds tournament in Delaware in which he made the all-star game, unofficially visited UMBC in late June.
Merlino, a transfer from Arlington High School, also considered Division III powers Franklin & Marshall and Trinity.
Here’s a Q&A with Brandon on his decision:
When did you finalize decision and do you remember where you were at the time?
I finalized my decision to attend UMBC my very first day visiting Sicily. I remember, I was standing outside my uncle’s home on the patio at 10:30 p.m. local time, six hours ahead of U.S. time. (UMBC) Coach (Don) Zimmerman had said, “Brandon, we were shaking hands across the Atlantic Ocean.” Very cool I thought. I slept so well that night.
Did you enjoy your time in Sicily since your college decision was finalized?
I had an amazing time on vacation. My family and I did a lot of sightseeing while there. The beaches are amazing, not much sand, but the water is so clear. I’m a big fan of Old World history and so my family made a point to bring me to several Greek ruins. I can’t help but think how talented people in that area were 2,000 years ago to build the architecture I saw.
What were the main factors in deciding on UMBC?
One of main reasons why I chose UMBC was simply because of Coach Zimmerman. I felt extremely comfortable with him from the very first moment I sat in his office. I agree with his coaching philosophy and felt like I could play for him over a four-ear period.
From the very first moment I picked up a lacrosse stick in fourth grade, I’ve wanted to play Division I lacrosse at the very highest level. UMBC provides that opportunity to me, as they have been in contention these past few years with the NCAA tournament in reach.
The other reason why I decided on UMBC was that I just fell in love with the school itself. The campus is beautiful. Not too big, but not too small. It was just the right size for me. I’ve always loved the Baltimore area. It’s a great college town, with a big focus on lacrosse.
What were your thoughts when you visited and met with the coaches?
Coach Zimmerman is very warm and friendly. You immediately feel comfortable and that you are in good hands. Coach Zim (the former head coach at Johns Hopkins) told me stories about how he has changed his coaching style over the years. When something didn’t work, he would change direction and try something new. I really felt like I could learn from him and his staff. His assistants, Coach (Pat) Tracy and Coach (Rob) Cross were very helpful as well. Coach Tracy gave my father and I a tour of the campus. He had all the answers to all of my questions.
Did your performance at Hotbeds, and making the all-star team add to your confidence?
My performance at Hotbeds wasn’t necessarily a confidence booster, but making the All-Star game roster definitely was. I had a really good tournament and could not have done it without my teammates.
How would you describe your style of play for those who havent seen you in action before and how do you expect to contribute at UMBC?
My style of play is extremely aggressive and physical. Let’s just say I’m not bashful when it comes to introducing myself to my opponent. I like to play defense as a midfielder and hustle whenever I am out on the field.
I feel my best attributes are my dodging skills and shooting on the run. I also enjoy the faceoff X position as lacrosse is a game of possession, and if you can dominate the ball by gaining possession, that’s when goals are scored.
As far as my contribution to UMBC, I’m sure I can make an immediate impact with faceoffs and as a defensive midfielder.
Be sure to e-mail me with news/info on any college commitments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Posted In: Recruiting Rundown