BRADENTON – Manatee senior AJ Colagiovanni dons the No. 12 jersey for one reason, his admiration for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Colagiovanni is in his second full season as the man under center at Manatee and it’s been very successful thus far for the 6’0″, 195-pound 2017 prospect.
Through eight games this season, he has completed 110 of 180 passes for 1,684 yards, 21 touchdowns and five interceptions. With two games left on the regular season schedule, Colagiovanni has already matched his passing touchdown total from a year ago.
The dual-threat quarterback also has three rushing scores. He had 11 last season.
With 24 starts under his belt including, four as a sophomore, Colagiovanni had this to say about his improvements as a quarterback.
“It was more about the physical aspect of my game going into my sophomore year,” Colagiovanni told Prep Sports Scouting. “Being at Manatee it’s a tough environment, you have to play perfect because we are playing all these great teams at the beginning of the season.”
He says his mental aspect was on point during his junior year and that has improved even further this year. Every day during lunch Colagiovanni sits down with head coach John Booth to watch and breakdown film.
Starting his football life at age 5 playing flag for the Sarasota Sun Devils, Colagiovanni was a quarterback. That’s where he’s stayed. He also wrestled from age 6 to 8th grade and played baseball from age 8 to sophomore year.
Where did Colagiovanni find his confidence you may ask?
He says that came in a 41-21 loss to Alabama Hoover last season where he had two touchdowns (1 passing, 1 rushing).
“It was a big step forward in my game after a tough loss a year ago out of state,” Colagiovanni said. “Even though we lost, I thought I played very confident and it came also from practice. Going into that spring, our offense and defense were fighting hard. That made the games a lot easier.”
The Hurricanes offense is packed with weapons including junior running back Joshua Booker (6 touchdowns), sophomore running back Keyon Fordham (7 touchdowns) and senior athlete Tarique Milton (13 touchdowns).
“They elevate your game. Playing with them makes you elevate your own game,” Colagiovanni said. “Booker and Fordham bring two different aspects to our game. Working with them and watching them have a couple 100 yards and a couple touchdowns takes pressure off of me and the offense.
“Tarique, when you get the ball in his hands, he’s going to make it happen every time. I don’t have any doubts when I’m throwing to him that he’s catching it. Our whole wide receiver group in general is making things happen.”
A year ago, Manatee went 9-3 before falling to Orlando Dr. Phillips in the Class 8A region semifinal 40-21. Colagiovanni pointed to the team’s chemistry as a close-knit group makes this year different than last season.
“Our strength is that we are a young team that is dangerous,” he said. “We have athletes that you wouldn’t expect to make plays. Everyone looks at us as the underdog heading into the playoffs and I think we are going to use that to our advantage. When we are clicking, we are tough to stop.”
Third-year head coach John Booth owns a 26-8 record since taking over the sidelines in 2014. Manatee won its fifth state title in 2011. For Colagiovanni, he’s very close to the man in charge of Hurricanes football.
“He’s [Booth] a great guy, all of our coaches are great guys. Coach Booth comes in day in and day out and looks for the best in us and pulls out the best in us.
“Personally, because he’s my quarterbacks coach and head coach, he’s helped me with so many aspects of my game. He’s helped me progress mentally and physically. I give everything to him because he’s helped me in everything I do.”
Colagiovanni pointed to his ability to read coverages, run the ball and progress through his reads as his biggest strengths. He’s aiming to improve his quick decisions when a play is breaking down whether he’s running or passing.
His lone offer comes from Union College. Interest is also coming from Stetson, a school that he took an unofficial visit to earlier this year.
“They [Stetson] really like me and I really like them,” he said. “We are just seeing how it progresses. I went over there on an unofficial for a game against Jacksonville. I’ve kept in touch with them.
“I like the atmosphere, the land and the town it is in. The football games are fun, they have a lot of support.”
Colagiovanni’s ultimate goal is to win a state championship with his team and play college football. He plans to sports business as an undergrad and go back for his master’s in some aspect of business.
Smarts and personability go a long way. For AJ Colagiovanni, he’s packed with both of those. Certain athletes think statistics is all that matter, but being a nice and approachable person can go a long way.
Colagiovanni just wants to win and have fun in the process. He’s dedicated his life to football after dropping baseball and wrestling over the last couple of years. His dual-threat mindset will help him succeed at the next level.
Favorite players to watch – New England Patriots QB Tom Brady
Playlist before games – Wiz Khalifa “Medicated”
Favorite movies – Friday Night Lights
Favorite TV shows – Dexter and Quarry
Fun fact about you that you think no one knows – “When I was younger I used to skateboard a lot. I loved skateboarding. I used to like dropping into the bowls and I did a summer camp down in Sarasota down at the skate park.”
Game film: Colagiovanni’s Hudl tape
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Photo credit: Bradenton Herald
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org.