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The Film Room: Brett Zanotto

Can this under-the-radar recruit stun College Park?


Randy Edsall continued his recruiting roll, snagging inside linebacker Brett Zanotto out of Big Ten country. The rising senior at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pa. joins 14 other recruits as the current class of 2015 for the Terps. According to the intro of his video and MaxPreps, Zanotto racked up a phenomenal 157 tackles last season, including 27 tackles for loss.

Zanotto is an unheralded recruit that could sneak up and surprise Maryland faithful come next fall. The 6'0'' 215 pound linebacker is considered a three-star recruit by the 247sports composite, ranking as the 27th-best player in the state of Pennsylvania and the 43rd-best linebacker in the country. With the addition of Zanotto and other recent commits, Maryland has risen 14 spots to the 23rd-best class in the country, surpassing future Big Ten foes Iowa, Michigan and Nebraska.

Peep the video here.

Zanotto has the intangibles to become a great linebacker at Maryland. He's patient, determined, powerful and above all, delivers some menacing hits. He is absolutely relentless in his trek to swallow the ball carrier and takes those in his way down with him. The very first play of this highlight featured Zanotto plowing through the backfield, tossing the blocking running back aside like he wasn't even there and then sacking the quarterback for a loss of some-seven or eight yards.

I really, really loved his patience in the film. He didn't rush and try to split the first seam he saw, but rather slowed down and assessed where the best hole was to close up for the ball carrier. On a few package blitz plays he rushed immediately but other than that, he stayed back in the zone and waited to be sure he had the right angle. That kind of patience and maturity from a then-junior speaks a lot to his coachability and knowledge for the game.

So unfortunately there are a few downfalls in this young athlete. For one, you can't coach size. And unfortunately, Zanotto may have been the biggest kid on the field in high school but he will be extremely undersized playing in Big Ten football as a linebacker. He is 6 foot flat and weighs only about 215 pounds. If there is any silver lining in his measurements it's that from looking at the raw footage, I could tell his lower body is strong. He has tree trunks for legs which shows promise to his lower body strength.

Another thing hazy about the film is the level of talent he is playing. There were a few ways one could analyze this film. One is saying "wow this kid is blowing by the offensive line pretty easily, he must be amazing." Or the alternate analysis could look like, "wow this offensive line is absolutely horrendous, even I could get to the quarterback." Franklin Regional graduates approximately 315 students per class each year, putting them in the 3A district for football. With 4A being the largest division in the state of Pennsylvania, Franklin Regional is by no means playing the weakest competition, making Zanotto's 101 solo tackles last season quite the feat.

One very promising aspect of Zanotto's game is his ability to spy on the quarterback. On quite a few plays, Zanotto was tasked with sitting back and watching the scrambling quarterback. Each one of those plays, ended with a great instinctive play and quite often the quarterback on the ground wondering why he dropped back to pass in the first place. This package could work one day as a Terp, particularly playing dual-threat quarterbacks in such an athletic conference.

Zanotto's 2015 prospectus looks hazy as of now. He is likely to redshirt due to the influx of new inside linebackers and the ones already registered at the university, but Edsall will take a long, hard look at the progress (or regress) he's made in his senior year for the Panthers. It wouldn't be a huge surprise to me at all if Edsall and company worked on a transition for Zanotto to shifting to outside linebacker. He has a quick and endless motor that would certainly fuel the outside spots in future years.

One thing is certain, the class of 2015 is shaping up very nicely. They say quality is better than quantity, but Maryland is testing the waters and searching for both. Zanotto is the seventh defensive player from the class to commit and the second inside linebacker, joining Gus Little.