Forest Park’s Nocerini commits to Tech football

CRYSTAL FALLS — Daniel Nocerini will return to 11-man football at Michigan Tech University.

The Forest Park High School senior, a standout in the Trojans’ inaugural season of eight-man high school football, made the verbal commitment to MTU on Christmas Day.

“Tech seemed like the right fit after the official visit,” Nocerini said. “I really like the coaches and it’s close to home.”

Steve Olson was named Michigan Tech head coach at the conclusion of the 2016 season. Coaches are not allowed to comment on recruits until signing National Letters of Intent, with the initial date Feb. 1.

Nocerini, interested in the MTU forestry program, also applied at Northern Michigan and Central Michigan. North Dakota State was among the other schools contacting Nocerini.

Nocerini and Jason Whitens of Powers North Central shared the 2016 U.P. and Western Eight Conference player of the year award.

Nocerini (6-foot-2, 217) starred at tailback and linebacker for the Trojans. He rushed for 1,928 yards and 37 touchdowns, averaging 12.2 yards among his 158 carries during the regular season. He also threw for two scores and 169 yards.

Nocerini, in his eight-player debut, punished Rapid River for 414 yards rushing in 25 carries.

“In eight-man football there are a lot of one-on-one situations developing and with his size and explosion, he comes into the secondary rushing like a beast,” Forest Park Coach Dave Graff said after the game. “He’s got size and speed. He is our premier back.”

North Central Kevin Bellefeuil has faced Nocerini in eight-man and 11-man football.

“You don’t (stop him),” Bellefeuil said. “You just keep playing him and playing him, hitting him and tackling him and don’t let him run over you. You don’t stop him. He is too good for that.”

Nocerini earned All-U.P. Class D honors at defensive back in 2014 and defensive end in 2013. Injuries hampered his 2015 campaign but he did receive All-U.P. honorable mention.

A leg injury has kept Nocerini off the basketball court this season. He will likely return next month.

(Dennis Grall of The Daily Press in Escanaba contributed to this story)