Frank Raggo is a football fan like anyone else.
But when the placekickers and punters trot onto the field, he takes a little more interest than anyone else.
The Randolph High School senior is one of them.
Raggo has parlayed that interest in kicking into a scholarship at the University of Delaware. Raggo signed a National Letter of Intent with the Blue Hens Wednesday. He also received an offer from Lafayette but chose to kick for Delaware after making his official visit two weekends ago.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I went to the Richmond game at Delaware during the season and I made my official visit (two weeks ago). They showed me the football office and the locker rooms and I met my academic advisor. Before leaving the school, coach (Dave) Brock offered me.”
Raggo would like to get into the sports communications/sports marketing field. In the meantime, he will do all he can to progress as a kicker, which is something he has been doing ever since getting hooked on kicking as a sixth grader.
Raggo always had a strong leg and was able to pull off the unusual feat of playing both football and soccer growing up. But soon, football won out.
He kicked for the Rams varsity as a mere freshman. He was thrown into the fire that first year and booted a 24-yard field goal to beat North Bergen in overtime to send the Rams into the sectional championship game two weeks later at the New Meadowlands, where Randolph wound up winning the championship over Montclair.
The 5-9, 165-pound Raggo was a two-time all-Daily Record first-team kicker. He was first team as a senior despite kicking just three field goals (one from 42 yards, two from 45). He booted 13 field goals during his Randolph career.
“Statistically, he was not the best in New Jersey,” said nationally-known kicking guru Luke Gaddis, of One-on-One Kicking, which is one of the nation’s top developers of high school, college and professional. “Ability-wise, he was the No. 1 kicker in New Jersey.”
Raggo reached out to Gaddis via Facebook. The Long Island, N.Y.-based Gaddis has helped Raggo with a training regimen catered to kickers.
“We do film work, drill work, and we try and make sure the kickers do what they’re supposed to do,” Gaddis said. “We have them do weight work, speed work.”
Most importantly, Gaddis got Raggo’s name out to college coaches. Raggo sent Gaddis film of all three of his field goals this year, but Gaddis said that was not enough to impress the coaches. Gaddis had sent college coaches video of Raggo making 10 straight field goals during a workout without stopping the film, which won Brock over.
“Frank’s game film was weak,” Gaddis said. “We made the film of him making 10 straight without stopping. The Delaware coach really liked that. They liked Frank. They also liked that he was a dedicated athlete. He does his work. We call it homework. It’s great to work with us, but what matters more is are you doing your work away from us? He’ll have success at the next level because he is doing his homework.”
Raggo spent much of last summer out with a thigh injury and, ironically, never worked out for the Delaware coaches. But he and his family did spend two weeks on vacation in Texas, where he had tryouts at North Texas, Texas State, and Sam Houston State.
“They rarely come to you,” Raggo said. “You have to go to them.”
Raggo almost wound up going to North Texas. At the school’s tryout in the summer, Raggo worked against a large group of kickers who were also vying for a spot on the team. Raggo was one of the final two kickers in the tryout and booted a 55-yard field goal that was matched by the second kicker.
But in the next round, the other kicker made another 55-yarder. Raggo’s attempt went wide left. The other kicker wound up getting offered that day.
But with a spot at Delaware now his, Raggo can now focus on his workout routine.
“They’ll send me a workout schedule,” Raggo said. “I’ll do a lot of leg strengthening, a lot of squats, a lot of flexibility.”
Three Morris County players will sign with Ivy League schools at a later date.
Delbarton’s receiver-safety Matt Oplinger will sign with Yale. Teammate Robbie Arancio, a fullback-linebacker, will sign with Pennsylvania. Mountain Lakes’ two-way tackle Zack Kuehm will sign with Princeton.
Here are other Morris County players who signed National Letters of Intent on Wednesday.
Zack Heeman, Mount Olive: The 6-8, 280-pound Heeman, who is also a basketball standout, signed with Rutgers and projects as an offensive tackle.
Mike Dogbe, Parsippany Hills: Dogbe blossomed as a defensive tackle and helped lead the Vikings to the North 2 Group III championship game. He signed with Temple.
J.R. Reese, Jefferson: The Falcons four-year starter at quarterback will attend Rutgers as a preferred walk-on with a chance to earn a scholarship.
Noa Merritt, Pope John: Merritt, a Flanders resident who plays defensive tackle, originally committed to Western Michigan but opted to sign with Boston College.
Noah Brown, Pope John: Brown, a Flanders resident, was recruited as an athlete and signed with Ohio State.
Jermaine Eluemunor, Morris Knolls: Eluemunor was a Junior College All-American at Lackawanna and signed with Texas A&M.