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Palladino grabs Rams’ grid offer by the horns

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ senior running back D’Angelo Palladino signed a national letter-of-intent to play football at Fordham University on Wednesday. Attending the ceremony were, from left to right, uncle Stacey Jones, D’Angelo, and mother Latisha Palladino. (Tony Shotsky of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Ironton Fighting Tigers’ senior running back D’Angelo Palladino signed a national letter-of-intent to play football at Fordham University on Wednesday. Attending the ceremony were, from left to right, uncle Stacey Jones, D’Angelo, and mother Latisha Palladino. (Tony Shotsky of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

Jim Walker

jim.walker@irontontribune.com

 

For D’Angelo Palladino, it was first come, first serve.

The Ironton Fighting Tigers’ senior running back was talking with coaches during a recruiting conversation and got quite an offer.

“My junior year, Fordham contacted coach (Mark) Vass and I had no clue who they were. They told me that I would be an asset to their team and I took the opportunity to listen,” said Palladino.

“They told me they were recruiting three running backs and the first running back to commit they would cut the other two off. So I decided to verbally commit and I wanted to go there anyway just because it was in New York and that’s where I wanted to go when I was younger.”

That commitment came to fruition on Wednesday as Palladino signed a national letter-of-intent to play for the Rams.

The offer from Fordham became an even bigger opportunity for Palladino who spent most of his senior season injured.

“I had Division I teams looking at me that wanted me and to see what I would do my senior year. (Due to the injury) I wasn’t getting any more offers. Fordham kept beside me and was with me the whole way and told me I wasn’t going to lose my scholarship which was a blessing because that doesn’t happen,” said Palladino.

“I went on a visit and I liked the campus and I like the coaches. I like everything about the university. It was pretty much locked it in for me.”

As a junior, Palladino carried 195 times for 1,552 yards — an almost 8 yards per carry average — and scored 18 touchdowns. He was named the Southeast District Division V Offensive Player of the Year and was named first team All-Ohio.

But Palladino was nagged by a back injury last season and played only one full game and a few plays in a handful of games. He finished with 227 yards on 51 attempts for a 4.5 average and a touchdown.

Vass was happy for Palladino and the chance to play college football after a disappointing senior year.

“It’s a good opportunity for him so hopefully everything works out for him. He’s a talented kid. Once you get in college it’s a step up with the time and the work. At that level everything is amplified. He has the ability to play at that level,” said Vass.

Palladino said getting a scholarship helped ease the bitter disappointment he endured last season.

“For one thing, it sucks knowing you can help your team. I’m not saying because of me we would have gone to the state championship, but I could have helped a little bit. It was very frustrating and it was frustrating not knowing what was wrong until week nine. It was very frustrating not only for me but the whole program,” he said.

The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Palladino is expected to play behind Chase Edmonds who was the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year this past season as a sophomore.

Palladino said his injury is still healing and if it does not heal by the beginning of the season he could face a red-shirt year.

“In the Patriot League you can’t just red-shirt for developmental reasons. You have to red-shirt for an injury that lets you out for the whole year. If I were to play, I would have to try my best to get on the field,” said Palladino.

Fordham was 9-3 last season and was second in the Patriot League after winning the title the previous year.

However, the Rams qualified for a third straight NCAA FCS playoff berth only to lose 50-20 to UT-Chattanooga.

Rams’ head coach Joe Moorhead resigned at the end of season to take a position on the Penn State staff.

Fordham hired the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Andrew Breiner to replace Moorhead.

Palladino said the coaching change did not influence his decision.

“Me and coach Moorhead weren’t that close. We would talk sometimes, so the transition of new coaches wasn’t that big to me. The day coach Breiner got the job he called me and he was like, ‘this is coach Breiner, I’m the new head coach and I just wanted to contact you and let you know I’m the new head coach.

“I’m getting to know coach Breiner more. I’m not really glad that I didn’t know (Moorhead), but it’s OK I didn’t know him because I would be iffy on me going.”

Palladino is undecided on a major at this time but he said academics played a major role in his decision to attend the Catholic private school.

“For me, my goal is to graduate, get a diploma and get into the workforce. If anything was to change after that, if I was to go to the league (NFL) or anything after that, then so be it. But my goal is to get that diploma and get a good job,” said Palladino. “A coach told me if a job was to see Fordham on your resume, then that’s how it is.”

D’Angelo is the son of Latisha Palladino and acknowledged the support and help he’s had from his uncle Stacey Jones.