New Milford lineman Emmett McElroy gets a FaceTime call from Ed Marinaro at his Signing Day ceremony. McElroy is the first New Milford player to go to Cornell since Marinaro. (Photo and story by Darren Cooper / NorthJersey.com)
NEW MILFORD – Emmett McElroy and Ed Marinaro share initials, high school alma maters and now college football programs.
We will have to wait and see if McElroy can act.
McElroy, the New Milford senior lineman, celebrated his commitment to Cornell on Wednesday in front of a huge crowd of students, coaches and administrators. He wore a Cornell hat and a broad smile. (Ivy League schools don’t have formal scholarship letters to sign, kids receive news of their acceptance, and that’s enough).
On the phone was Marinaro, the New Milford football legend and acting star, calling to wish McElroy the best of luck.
“He’s one of the greatest to ever play at Cornell,” McElroy said. “It’s cool to know that someone from a small town like New Milford could do that.”
The New Milford coaches had kept the fact that Marinaro would be calling in a secret up until the last minute. Marinaro’s delight was easy to hear on the FaceTime call. He signed off by shouting “Go Big Red!”
“How can you not be proud of our school that put out a kid who can get into Cornell?” Marinaro said later. “I look forward to seeing him play. He will have a great time.”
Marinaro said there was no Signing Day ceremony for him at New Milford, and to be honest, all the fanfare of kids signing with big programs on national television is not his bag. Marinaro said he probably found out he had been accepted to Cornell from a coach and was thrilled to hear the news.
But looking back on it now, Marinaro remarks that he’s extremely proud of his Cornell education, because he knew one day his athletic career would end, but he’d always have that to fall back on.
“That’s one of the reasons I chose Cornell,” Marinaro said. “Your athletic career can end quickly. I knew guys who went to Cornell and were pretty highly rated players and then played for a year or two and it was over.”
McElroy is third of three football brother standouts at New Milford. He got connected to Cornell, ironically, on a recruiting trip with his brother Matt (who is now at Penn).
“I always liked it and when I had the opportunity to play there, I had to hop on it,” McElroy said.
Now, McElroy will potentially face off on the football field for the first time against both his brothers. Of course, Penn and Cornell play as Ivy League rivals, while Andrew is playing for Marist, and Cornell has them on the schedule next year.
“When I told them it was Cornell, Matt texted me back and said, ‘congratulations, but that means four years of losing to me,’ and Andrew said that’s one year of losing to me,” Emmett said. “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
McElroy plans to study engineering, with an interest in civil engineering. The Big Red coaches have told him they want him to play on the offensive line.
“That’s all fine,” McElroy said. “I just like to play.”
It was truly a unique environment in the New Milford conference room that was packed (and overheating). How many times can a school use a Signing Day ceremony to connect with one of its most famous alumni?
While every football player has to look cool on Signing Day, McElroy was clearly touched by the outpouring of support and the recognition of the Marinaro connection.
“I think it’s just the Cornell name,” McElroy said. “All the alumni are connected, that’s one of the things Coach told me about when they all come back to the school. I think going to the same school really bonds everyone. It doesn’t matter the age difference. It just matters that you went there.”
Marinaro said that he still attends Cornell games regularly. Now he and McElroy have even more in common.
“It’s a great place,” Marinaro said. “There are other smaller schools around with people you can socialize with. He’ll be dealing with a lot of high-quality people. He’s a special kid, you’d have to be to get into engineering. Most of all, he will come out a better person.”