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DeCicco's thick build sticks out in a college secondary, but his abnormal frame wasn't the only reason he made a name for himself at Pitt the past four years.
DeCicco immediately made his mark on the program by playing in 10 games and lettering as a true freshman. From there, his impact only grew. As a sophomore, he found his way onto the field in 13 games, starting 11 at strong safety and leading the team with four picks and 56 tackles.
In 2009, he again nailed down the job, getting the first-team nod in all 13 games on his way to being named an All-Big East second-team performer and making 88 stops. A minor hamstring injury kept him out of one game during his All-Big East first-team senior season, though even that couldn't keep him from setting career marks with 94 tackles and five interceptions.
For all his amateur accolades, however, DeCicco could be considered a 'tweener by many scouts. He spent some time at WILL linebacker in 2010, and like former Auburn safety Will Herring, may make the transition to the second level in the NFL. A powerful run defender capable of making plays against the pass when in position, however, teams not looking to convert him could add DeCicco in the late rounds as a special teams contributor and in-the-box safety.
Strengths: Linebacker build with a thick, strong frame. Brings a lot of power when he tackles and attacks the line of scrimmage in run support. Relies on strong instincts to make up for mediocre overall athleticism for a defensive back. Wraps up and secures ballcarriers on contact and rarely allows any extra yardage. Anticipates running lanes and fills them by taking smart, sharp angles to the ball. Holds up against tight ends and reroutes them off the line when asked to do so. Keeps his feet under him when backpedaling.
Weaknesses: Below-average athlete for the position. Has stiff hips and looks completely lost in man coverage. Lacks the fluidity to maintain acceleration in and out of his breaks. Struggles to mirror inside receivers and loses balance when turning and opening up his hips. Often turns and runs early to make up for a lack of speed, leaving his back to the play. Does not have adequate recovery speed, ineffective in trail coverage. Sluggish when covering the deep half, lacks range to consistently make plays downfield. Bites on play-action, flies up in run support without minding deep responsibilities. Plays high and allows blockers to get under his pads.
Starter in all 13 games at strong safety…All-Big East (second team)...had 88 tackles, three interceptions, three PBUs and a forced fumble…named Big East Defensive Player of the Week for his USF performance…had 10 tackles with nine solos as the Panthers limited USF to 212 yards…twice posted a career-high 12 tackles (Buffalo and Louisville)...had INTs against Cincinnati, Rutgers and Youngstown State…three-time Coaching Staff Defensive Player of the Game (USF, Rutgers and Connecticut).
Played in 13 games, starting 11 at strong safety...had 56 tackles and team-high four interceptions...ranked third in Big East with 0.31 INTs/game...had career-high 13 tackles with an INT at Connecticut...had seven tackles, a forced fumble and fumble recovery vs. Oregon State in the Sun Bowl...had six stops and an INT vs. West Virginia...also had picks at USF and Navy.
Lettered as a true freshman, playing in 10 games...majority of his action came on special teams...also served as a reserve free safety...collected six tackles on the year...had a season-high three stops vs. Grambling.
2010: Missed one game with a hamstring injury.
One of Western Pennsylvania's most diverse athletes...a three-year starter on both sides of the ball for perennial WPIAL Class AAA power Thomas Jefferson...switched from receiver to quarterback for his senior season and was a 1,000-yard rusher and passer...finished with 1,132 yards passing with 17 touchdowns...also rushed for 1,064 yards and 15 TDs...started each of his three varsity seasons at safety and had 17 career interceptions...led team to the WPIAL Class AAA championship and the semifinals of the PIAA playoffs with a 14-1 record his senior year...in his three seasons as a starter, Thomas Jefferson went a combined 39-5 (.886) with two WPIAL titles and a PIAA Class AAA championship his sophomore year...named to The Associated Press Pennsylvania Class AAA All-State Team (second team)...Pittsburgh Post-Gazette WPIAL Class AAA Player of the Year...Pittsburgh Post-Gazette "Fabulous 22"...Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "Terrific 25"...Harrisburg Patriot-News "Platinum 33"...first team All-Big Seven...rated Pennsylvania's No. 9 prospect by Scout.com...rated the nation's No. 18 safety prospect by Scout.com...Scout All-East Region...PrepStar All-East Region...rated Pennsylvania's No. 16 prospect by Keystone Recruiting...rated the state's No. 34 prospect by Rivals.com...selected to play in the Big 33 Football Classic...played under Coach Bill Cherpak, a standout offensive lineman for Pitt from 1985-89...DeCicco was also an exceptional basketball player...scored more than 1,000 career points as a four-year starter...twice earned all-section in basketball...also a two-year letterman in track and field...honor roll student...member of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA)...joins fellow Thomas Jefferson product Nate Nix, a redshirt freshman linebacker at Pitt.
Dominic John DeCicco, born 9/11/88, is the son of Dominic and Debbie DeCicco...has two brothers and one sister...father was a tight end at Waynesburg College in the late 1970s.
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