Blogs > Burney's Bites

Burney's Bites will focus primarily on the local preps sports scene, but will also touch on some college and pro athletics, mostly in regards to athletes who hail and have played high school sports in Oakland County. My goal for the blog is to be conversational and anecdotal, a more relaxed and free formal take on high school athletics than you see in regular game day coverage.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Hail Mary

It came down to the wire, but Novi Detroit Catholic Central's mega-fullback/human bulldozer, Niko "Big Poppa" Palazetti has finally secured himself a more than well-deserved D1 college football scholarship. Palazetti, a 6-foot-2, 250 pound battering ram of a ball carrier who is as classy off the field as he is volatile on in, was offered and accepted a full ride to Michigan State University on Monday, wrapping a bow on what will go down as one of the best seasons for a Oakland County running back in quite some time. When it was all said and done and the CC state championship banner had been raised, the Shamrocks' consummate workhorse had rushed for over 1400 yards and 25 TDS. In the state title game at Ford Field – a 31-21 defeat of a high-powered SH Stevenson squad led by the state's all-time leading passer in Jason Fracassa – he pummeled the competition for 145 yards on the ground and two big time scores. Oh, yeah, let's not forget about his stalwart effort in the trenches helping spark an exceptional CC defense and his outstanding leadership displayed in the huddle, in the lockeroom, and in the class room (Big Poppa is "NOTORIOUS" for getting his "book on" as well as getting his "TD on" to the tune of a 3.5 gpa). He will sign his official National Letter of Intent on Wednesday morning at the CC campus off Wixom Road in a ceremony which will include his all-state teammate, Mike Kinville, a Shamrocks linebacker slated to ink with Central Michigan.
This is a great story about a great kid. Before the 2009 prep football campaign, Palazetti only had a few offers to play college ball and they were all from D2 and D3 schools. His monstrosity of a senior year on the gridiron got some of the bigger college programs in the area talking and then, eventually lurking in his direction. At first, MSU and Michigan both floated the idea of brining Palazetti into their respective programs as a preferred walk-on. However, as the clock clicked down to the wire in the 2010 recruiting game, Spartans head honcho, Mark D'antonio, decided to offer Palazetti an all out full-ride. To say D'antonio and the Sparty faithful got themselves a diamond in the rough would be a gross understatement. Mark my words, you're going to be hearing about this kid at the next level and in a major way. He's got that "X-factor" intangible as a player that transcends numbers and rankings and that trait will make him successful in East Lansing. His will to achieve is colossal and it shines through in the way he plays the game – inspired, steely-eyed and with high-impact.
Prior to the big boys smarting up, Palazetti was knocked for his lack of speed. HELLO, MCFLY. IS THERE ANYONE HOME? (Back to the Future reference). Of course, he lacks speed. He's a bruising fullback, he's not supposed to be fast. But what he is, if not speedy, is a hard-blocking, gutty grinder of a ball-toter and a true throwback of a football player in general. Basically, the kind of guy you want on your team when you're battling out for the Big Ten title every year (which is where Sparty will hopefully be soon under the D'antonio regime). Just think, Mike Alstott with a little more of an instinctive nose for the end zone. That's what this kid is and will be in college if given the opportunity.  Congrats, Big POPPA! You've earned every bit of success you have received this last six months and in the process, done Burney proud. Now, Go know' em dead in Spartytown over the next four years!