Over the next 10 days, we will feature our picks of Southern Arizona's top preseason high school football players.
Our countdown continues with Catalina Foothills' Tommy Ciaccio, a versatile two-year starter who is expected to help first-year coach Jeff Scurran put his imprint on the Falcons program.
• The rundown: Tommy Ciaccio, WR/DB/Ret., 5-8, 150, Catalina Foothills, senior
• Who he is: A second-year team captain who won't spend much time off the field. Ciaccio will play slot receiver, defensive back, kick and punt returner and gunner on special teams. Since Scurran's arrival, Ciaccio has gained 10 pounds and has improved his bench press to 225 and his squat to 385. The track and field coaches helped Ciaccio with his running form, and he recently clocked a 4.42 40-yard dash. He suffered a concussion while at the UA for a passing league tournament and missed out on the rest of the summer but instead was able to develop a better understanding of the game by stepping back and learning from the sidelines. He watched quarterbacks, learned how rotations work and saw the molding of his teammates' personalities. Ciaccio, an honors student, has drawn the interest of several Division II schools but is heavily interested in the Colorado School of Mines in order to pursue a future in engineering.
• Proof he's good: Last season, Ciaccio had 121 tackles, one interception, two sacks and three fumble recoveries. He also scored a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown, and he returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Ciaccio finished last season with seven games with double-digit tackles and had at least eight in every game. Scurran said Ciaccio's hustle and ability to make plays while being undersized reminds him of Jeff Popovich, a former star quarterback and defensive back he coached in the early '90s at Sabino and who went on to play in 46 games at Miami.
• He said it: "Tommy's a yes- or no-sir kind of guy. He leads by example. He's a great student. He's pound-for-pound one of the best athletes I've ever coached. And he is smart as can be, a straight-A student. Whether it's weight training, overcoming an academic obstacle that has a conflict with sports, he gets it done. Some people say, 'Coach, I have this, or I can't do it.' Tommy works all those things out. He finds a way to get everything done. On top of all that, he's fast as a whip." - Scurran