After all-state football career, DelliSanti ready for D1 ball

Like many young players, John DelliSanti had a dream of some day playing college football.

But it wasn’t until a breakout season in 2013 — both for DelliSanti and the Fairfield Prep football team — that the dream began to come into focus.

This fall, it will finally come true when the Wilton resident, an all-state receiver for Prep last fall, will begin playing Division 1-AA football for the University of New Hampshire.

“Some time in middle school I made the choice that I truly wanted to play college football, and upon entering Prep’s football program that dream seemed to become more and more a reality,” said DelliSanti. “Playing D1 was not always the plan but after the surreal year that we had as a program my junior year I had my eyes set on playing D1. During that season the colleges began coming in with recruiters and I felt that I had the ability to play D1.”

Two years ago, DelliSanti helped Prep reach the Class LL state championship game — the Jesuits’ first state title game appearance in 25 years. He finished that season with 45 catches for 935 yards and nine touchdowns. He set a new Southern Connecticut Conference record for receiving yards in a season.

As a senior, he had 49 catches for 834 yards and 10 touchdowns, and was named to the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Class L first-team all-state team.

He finished his career at Prep with more than 2,600 all-purpose yards, including 2,054 receiving yards, in addition to 113 catches and 26 touchdowns, making him one of the most prolific receivers in state history.

He was also named first-team all-SCC and named to the MSG Varsity All-Connecticut Team.

DelliSanti, a captain of last fall’s 7-4 Prep team, also won the Mark Masiello Memorial award as Fairfield Prep’s Offensive Player of the Year. This award is presented in memory of Mark Masiello, who was a quarterback and captain of the 1982 state championship team, and is given to a player who in the judgment of the coaching staff is respected as an exceptional football player, and respected by his teammates, coaches and fellow classmates.

DelliSanti moved to Wilton in middle school and played lacrosse and football in the Wilton youth programs. He was a member of the Wilton youth football teams that won Fairfield County Football League titles in the sixth and eighth grade seasons, the latter a memorable come-from-behind overtime win over Darien in the finals.

He also got his first taste of lacrosse in Wilton.

“When I moved here from San Diego in middle school I had no clue what lacrosse was but I tried it out and loved it. My sophomore year at Prep I even won a state championship in lacrosse and it has always helped me athletically,” he said.

After middle school, he moved on to Fairfield Prep, serving as captain of the freshman football team before moving into the varsity starting lineup as a sophomore.

The Jesuits finished the 2012 season at 5-5, but in 2013 went 11-3, falling to Southington in the Class LL state finals.

“Making the decision to attend Fairfield Prep was the greatest choice of my life from both an academic and athletic standpoint. The coaches there are world class coaches and teachers who have experience not only playing in college but also coaching college,” he said. “On top of that, the alumni network and student support is something I have not seen rivaled at any school in this area.”

DelliSanti and fellow senior captain, quarterback Colton Smith, formed one of the state’s elite passing combinations the past two seasons. Smith, who will play for Fordham University, was an all-state player who finished his career with a more than 6,000 total yards.

While his 6’2,” 200-pound frame is a big asset, DelliSanti said it was his speed that was the secret to his success as a receiver.

“I love how it allows me to be deceivingly fast. People see a big redhead line up at receiver and they’re not expecting me to have the speed that I do. That was the difference maker for me when playing, my speed.”

DelliSanti said the road to New Hampshire took a little longer than expected, but “ended up being for the best because it caused me to be so much more thorough with my decision. I took visits to numerous schools and it only intensified as the list of schools got narrower and narrower.”

He narrowed his list to New Hampshire, Fordham and Hobart College.

“All three schools were very interested in me and had made it very clear they wanted me to be a part of their programs. However, New Hampshire just felt like home from the second I stepped on campus and the more I visited the more I fell in love with it.”