TAMPA — From the inception of Alonso defensive end Anthony Chickillo’s recruitment, the notion that he would ultimately play at Miami seemed solid.
Both Chickillo’s father, Tony, and grandfather, Nick, competed for the Hurricanes before playing professionally.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Chickillo’s first scholarship offer came from Miami, and Chickillo’s relationship with ’Canes coach Randy Shannon dated to when he was 5, when he first attended Miami’s summer camp.
“He was really a thorn in Randy’s side as a youngster,” Chickillo’s father said. He was a linebacker and Randy was the linebackers coach. He always wanted to go from the younger group to the older group. Randy had Anthony at ‘Hello.’ ”
In the end, Chickillo’s decision was tougher. He had more than 50 Division I-A offers. And deciding between his two final schools — Miami and Florida — sometimes made his father grit his teeth.
“I wasn’t the biggest Gator hater of all time, but I was close,” said Tony Chickillo, who played at Miami from 1978-82 before being drafted by the Bucs in 1983.
But on Thursday, Anthony Chickillo made up his own mind.
In a packed gymnasium at Alonso, he decided to continue his family legacy and committed to the Hurricanes, placing a Miami hat on his head and wearing a ’Canes shirt that said “Third Generation: 3D” on the front and “Blood is Thicker Than Water” on the back.
Chickillo, ranked the No. 8 best rush end prospect in the nation and the 34th best overall recruit in Florida by Rivals.com, also brought out a framed photo of his grandfather, an All-American at Miami in 1952 who went on to play with the Chicago Cardinals.
“Miami just had more benefits for me than the other schools,” Chickillo said. “It was in my heart, and you just have to go with your heart.”
Once former Miami defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt left for Louisville in the offseason, it opened the door for Florida, Florida State and FSU. And Chickillo had developed a close relationship with Gators assistant head coach Dan McCarney.
Granted, his long-standing relationship with Shannon didn’t hurt.
“Coach Shannon, I have a trust with him,” Chickillo added. “There’s a trust there and a bond there. I know that Coach Shannon is going to help me reach my highest potential and help me reach the NFL.”