TJ's Giasante signs with University of N.H.
There's no substitute for the level of football education gained from spending four years playing under Thomas Jefferson football coach Bill Cherpak. Just ask Jaguars two-way standout Jimmy Giansante. During three years as a starter at TJ, Giansante blossomed into one of Western Pennsylvania's finest wide receivers and defensive backs. He garnered a 42-2 career record with back-to-back WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA championships in 2007 and 2008 to his credit. "In a three-year career that's pretty amazing," Cherpak said of Giansante, whose teams went 16-1 in postseason play the past three years. "That's almost like two extra seasons where he just had extra work. Obviously you are going to be a better player." Following a long recruiting process, Giansante finally made a commitment to continue his football education at the next level Friday when he signed a national letter of intent to play football at the University of New Hampshire next fall. "It helped me a lot," Giansante said of his tenure at TJ. "Coach Cherpak, he makes us work a lot in the offseason. I've played a lot of games. It helps you know the game better, playing all those extra games and extra practices. All it does is help you for later on in college." Since his breakout junior season in 2008, Giansante has received more than ample recruiting attention from big-time collegiate institutions including Pitt, Akron, Ohio University and several other MAC schools. Over the past several months Giansante received scholarship offers from William & Mary, the Virginia Military Institute and Bowling Green. After making his official visit to Division I-AA New Hampshire on the weekend of Jan. 23, however, Giansante developed a good rapport with UNH head coach Sean McDonnell and his staff along with some of his future teammates. "I feel real comfortable with the coaches and players and I like the facilities," Giansante said. "I just felt like (New Hampshire) was the right decision for me." "I want to play receiver at the next level, but it really didn't matter to me," he added. "I just wanted to go to a school where I knew I could get a good degree and feel comfortable." There is another aspect of New Hampshire's program that appealed to Giansante, who was the WPIAL's leading receiver after catching 53 passes for 1,234 yards and 14 touchdowns in his 2009 senior campaign. "They like to pass the ball a lot," the 6-foot-2, 190-pound receiver said. "So, that makes me happy." Giansante joins an impressive 2010 recruiting class for New Hampshire, which was highlighted by three other high-profile WPIAL players. Upper St. Clair quarterback Alex Park, Chartiers Valley defensive lineman Corey Rekasie and West Allegheny defensive lineman Tim Johnson all committed on Wednesday's national letter of intent signing day. Still, Giansante's final choice came as a bit of surprise to Cherpak. "They've been winning recently," Giansante said of his future football team. "They've been having some good seasons and I wanted to continue that." The key for Giansante, with the recruiting process now behind him, is to prepare for his football career at the next level. After rounding out his high school basketball career this winter, Giansante will begin a weightlifting and conditioning program aimed at preparing him for the rigors of Division I college football, Cherpak said. "It's a huge change," the TJ coach said. "Right now he needs to have himself as physically ready as possible when he gets there. The mental part and adjusting is just going to come." And with the experience gained from his time at TJ, Giansante will enter college with an added advantage over some of his future teammates. "He's made so many, not just big plays, he's been such a big part of the program for the past few years," Cherpak said. "He's really been one of the ones who's been responsible for maintaining our success over the past few years. He's going to be tough to replace." NOTES: Giansante will have a quick homecoming when New Hampshire plays Pitt at Heinz Field on Sept. 11. ... In other TJ recruiting news, Cherpak took the Jags wide receiver/defensive back tandem of Steven Licht and Ed Hasis on an official visit to Division III powerhouse Mount Union on Friday.