ROXBURY, N.J. Angelo Mangiro grew up a Penn State football fan in a household full of Nittany Lions fans.
Beginning next year, he'll suit up for Joe Paterno.
After countless hours of pondering his football future, Mangiro, the blue-chip senior guard from Roxbury High School, has finally decided where he will take his skills next year, and it will be Penn State.
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Mangiro made his announcement before several hundred friends, family members and Gaels teammates at the Horseshoe Lake Senior Center Sunday. Penn State narrowly beat out Rutgers, his other finalist. Ohio State and Pittsburgh were also in the running until late in the week before Mangiro further whittled down his choices.
Mangiro's final selection was met with a rousing, 30-second applause from the audience. He stood at a podium at the front of the room behind a table with baseball caps from Penn State, Rutgers, Ohio State, and Pittsburgh. When he began speaking, he applauded the coaches and programs of all four schools. He soon eliminated Pitt and Ohio State before dwindling down to his final choice.
"I got a feeling about Penn State," Mangiro said. "I grew up a Penn State fan. I feel like Rutgers can be very, very good. I felt comfortable at both schools when I visited, but Penn State is where I need to be."
At a glance
Name: Angelo Mangiro
School: Roxbury (N.J.)
Ht: 6-3. Wt: 300.
Ranking: ESPNU rates Mangiro the 47th-best player in the Class of 2011. ... Scout.com has him a four-star prospect and the No. 5 guard in the nation. ... Rivals.com places him as the 13th-best guard in the class and the eighth-best prospect in New Jersey.
"He'll be able to play for a legend," Roxbury coach Cosmo Lorusso said. "He knows Joe Paterno may not be there for another four years, but there is that mystique about playing for Penn State and that was a deciding factor."
When Mangiro announced his choice, he pulled out Penn State caps and then called up his father, mother, two brothers, Lorusso, and his girlfriend, thanking them all for their support during his grueling decision-making process.
Another one of the deciding factors was Penn State's location. Mangiro said he can get to the University Park campus in two hours, 45 minutes. When his parents, Harry and Maria, come to watch him play in the future, they can take Route 80 West, stop off at Bloomsburg University and pick up his brother Vin, a sophomore there, before continuing on.
Before Mangiro announced his selection, he called each of the four coaches and told them his intention.
The only two people in the room to know his final selection was Mangiro and Lorusso. Even his parents were unaware.
The weeks leading up to his decision, Mangiro and Lorusso began charting all of the plusses and minuses for each of his final choices on a spread sheet.
"We created it with 10 different criteria," Lorusso said. "We had a ranking scale, with one category getting 10 points, the next getting nine, right on down the line. Penn State won that. They beat Ohio State and Rutgers on the scale."
Mangiro ruled out the Buckeyes because of its demanding 8-hour ride from Roxbury to Columbus, Ohio.
Mangiro had several weeks time to ponder his decision but had grown weary of the process. And with Roxbury seeking to repeat as New Jersey Section 1 Group IV champions, he wanted to devote his full energy to the 2010 Gaels, not where he might be playing next year.
"He wanted to take the pressure off and not be a distraction to his team," Lorusso said. "On Sept. 1, it is open season for college coaches and he didn't want it to become a distraction and have it impact other people. That is the kind of person he is."
Many people already know what kind of blocker he is. Several recruiting services rank Mangiro among the top five guards in the nation, and he becomes the most highly-touted Nittany Lion recruit thus far for the team's 2011 class.
"He has all of the tools to play at the next level," said Roxbury assistant coach Frank Misurelli, who played four years as a tight end at Boston College. "He has the strength and his footwork is just phenomenal. He also has mental toughness and he is just so mature. His work ethic is good. He is like another coach on the field."
The Lions now have four recruits for a class expected to number 15-18. A number of Penn State recruitniks have been concerned about the program's slow recruiting start this year, but landing Mangiro is expected to salve those feelings somewhat and, perhaps, serve as a springboard for the remainder of the class.
"He is about the same size as the center or guards already out there," Lorusso added. "He's still 17, so there is still a little growth ahead for him. But his strength is unbelievable and his footwork is something you fall in love with."
The Mirror's Philip Cmor contributed to this story.