JACKSON TWP.  Sometimes, the picture just snaps into focus at an unexpected moment.

Entering the summer, Jackson senior Jaret Pallotta knew one of his priorities was making a decision on where to commit for college and expected to spend most of the summer traveling to camps, working out and talking to college coaches as he and his family gathered information on his options.

Then, less than a month into the summer, after attending several camps and traveling out of state, Pallotta had the moment of clarity he needed to finalize his choice.

“I threw well at Ball State and Purdue and after leaving those camps, I committed to University of Massachusetts,” Pallotta said. “I realized that I like UMass better than the schools I had visited, so I called (UMass) coach (Mark) Whipple and told him I wanted to commit.”

That call came after spending the weekend in Indiana and attending a camp at Youngstown State. It was a decision months in the making and one with which the Pallotta family was extremely familiar, as Jaret’s older brother Jake went through the same process two years ago, ultimately committing to Dartmouth.

Ironically, the brothers will now play college football less than two hours from one another, as the UMass campus is almost due south of Dartmouth's campus in New Hampshire. As Jaret Pallotta noted, with Dartmouth as an Ivy League school, the Big Green play their games on Friday nights and that means his parents would be able to drive to Dartmouth for a Friday night game and come down to UMass for his game the next day.

Following a similar path as his brother is one thing, but Jaret Pallotta is adamant that he’s never felt any pressure to live up to the success his brother enjoyed at Jackson. 

“Obviously when people look at me, some people think of Jake and I’ve had people tell me I have a lot of pressure living up to what he did,” Pallota said. “My brother had a great career at Jackson, but I’ve never felt like I had to live up to anything he did.”

Another element of pressure, the one that comes with being a highly recruited player trying to pick a college, is also off Pallotta’s shoulders and for that, he’s grateful.

“The pressure’s off. I’m not going to more camps and committing early, it’s great … I can focus on being at all of the workouts and basketball shootouts,” Pallotta said. “I really want to bring the team together and hopefully get back to the playoffs.”

In the early months of the offseason, when coaches aren’t allowed to organize any activities, players can get together and set up their own workouts. So far, Pallotta and several of his teammates have set up seven-on-seven scrimmages and as the team’s starting quarterback, he wants to make sure his receivers are as sharp as possible by the time the season starts.

As his briefer-than-expected recruiting process comes to a close, Pallotta is appreciative of the support he received not only from his family, but also his friends and coaches, who he credited with being helpful in different parts of the process.

“Coach (Tim) Budd has been great throughout the entire process, especially with all of the (college) coaches coming to the school,” Pallotta said. “He’s been good at giving his opinion and he agreed that UMass is a great school.” 

Even without camps to attend, there will still be plenty of sports on the schedule in the next few weeks. Already, Pallotta has attended a basketball camp with his team at Ohio State. It’s the first step for a team trying to replace an eight-person senior class that led the program to a state title in March and, although football season comes first, getting ready for both campaigns will be the center of what remains of summer for Pallotta as he strides toward a senior season with lofty expectations. 

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or andy.harris@thesuburbanite.com.
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