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Everything Mario Tull was looking for Syracuse had to offer.
During the Xaverian senior’s visit to the school last winter he found a vibrant community, a strong academic school with the major he was looking for, and a chance to play Division I football relatively close to home. Tull was satisfied enough to verbally commit to play for the Orange and new head coach Doug Marrone in June.
“It’s a good opportunity,” Tull said. “My family liked it. I liked it as a player and I am ready to go.”
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound strong safety and linebacker, who also will play wide receiver this season, was recruited by Rutgers and Hofstra. He is a combination of speed and size who can cover a large amount of ground on defense. It is that ability that allows him to rotate in and out of both positions and cause problems for opponents.
“He is a very rare type who is a wide-bodied kid who could probably play man coverage on the best receiver on the field and he is probably unblockable in a blitz package,” Clippers coach Joe DeSiena said. “He is a guy we are going to use in coverage and rushing the quarterback. Right now I’d say he is the best mismatch we can create.”
Tull, who wants to major in business or sports management, helped Xaverian to a 7-4 record and a berth in the CHSFL AAA semifinals last season and will be the leader of an inexperienced defense this year. He said he prefers playing safety, because he can better use his speed at that position.
Junior quarterback Greg Rando learned quickly of Tull’s prowess and tries to know where he is at all times on the field in practice.
“He can do everything out there,” Rando said. “He is a scary matchup. One side of the field is locked up. You have to go to the other side. He is something.”
Tull, a Brooklyn native, also will be Xaverian’s No. 1 receiver. He worked himself into an important offensive role last season, impressing the coaching staff with his explosiveness and his ability to shed tackles to create big plays on screen passes. He caught a 62-yard touchdown in a 21-12 win over St. Joseph by the Sea in the CHSFL quarterfinals.
“It came at me out of the blue,” Tull said of the opportunity. “But I was prepared.”
DeSiena said, “We realized we couldn’t afford him not being on the field [on offense].”
His strong finish a year ago and the addition of a Division I scholarship will only heighten the expectations on Tull this season. It is something he welcomes.
“There are going to be people who say, ‘He’s not good enough’ and there are others who say, ‘He is good enough,’” Tull said. “My mission is not complete yet. As far as that goes, I am just going to work hard and try to help my team win the championship.”
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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