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Montclair State’s Mauro Altamura on being a leader, his career progression

The senior linebacker gives his thoughts about the MSU’s 2-0 start and how he worked to become one of NJAC’s best defensive players.

Montclair State University senior linebacker Mauro Altamura from the time he was playing football at Hasbrouck Heights, always wanted to extend his football career as much as possible due to his love of the sport and how it prepares for you for life. A sign that Altamura would eventually end up at Montclair State is a story he shared with Double G Sports.

“My dad used to own a store in Montclair and I remember passing by football practices and the school in order to get to the store. I was in awe of playing football and how big the players were. Now to be one of those guys and have someone else look up to me is cool.”

Fast forward to 2015 and in Altamura’s freshman year, he recorded 11 tackles. 2016 saw the Altamura register 46 tackles before his breakout season with 80 tackles in 2017. He was an Honorable Mention in the NJAC. Altamura has improved his durability appearing in all ten games for Redhawks over the past two seasons.

Altamura Career Progression At MSU

This year Altamura and rest of the Red Hawks squad are off to a solid start at 2-0. He leads a staunch defense that is yielding eight points per game, compared to 21 points in 2017. Last week Altamura was named to the Team of the Week, the 31st Red Hawk to be named to the squad. He was also the 10th linebacker and first to be selected since Adnan Sakiri in 2013. Altamura was also named the NJAC Defensive Player of the Week, registering 14 tackles (12 solo), with three TFL, a sack and a fumble recovery in Montclair State’s 24-3 home victory over Southern Virginia University. Through two games this season, Altamura has 23 tackles and ranks second in the NJAC in tackles.

“To be honest I didn’t know I was on the list until one of the alumni texted me a picture of it,” Altamura said. “It was definitely humbling. All summer I worked hard and our coaches did a great job of getting us familiar with the playbook and what to look when we’re watching film and preparing us during the week.”

“I have been receiving texts all over the place, from cousins to aunts and uncles congratulating me. My Mom and Dad have been super supportive, always pushing me to make the best choices and giving me an opportunity to get better in the off-season and helping me out with a gym membership.”

“Being in the system for a fourth year, I have been able to pick up on things that could help me out and stay motivated. You see a lot of people fall off but the key is to continue to progress and get better. I want to surpass my number of tackles from last year and help my team win an NJAC title. We graduated 9 out of 11 starters but had a tremendous freshmen class come in. The competition level has been through the roof and guys really bought into it and listened and eager to play.”

Senior Leadership

As one of the captains, Altamura has taken it upon himself to be a leader and mentor to younger players. With a record of 2-0, the Red Hawks next two games are on the road, including a stiff test at Christopher Newport on Saturday, before returning home on October 6th against TCNJ.

“When I was a freshman coming in, there were two senior captains. I tell the younger guys don’t get discouraged. It’s very easy going into college and get lost in the shuffle. When we had the freshman and transfer meeting, along with captain Jake Weber, we explained to them it’s to get lost with the big fish in a small pond, and it’s very important if it’s not your time, it will come. You have to fight through it and good things can happen.”

“With a 2-0 record, the confidence level is spreading throughout the team and the locker room. As any football player will tell you, it’s much better when you are winning than losing. A great thing for our team, it builds a little bit of motivation and keeps a zero in the loss column. The one thing we preach is to go 1-0 after each week and take it game by game.”

“After the first week I told them we’re only 1-0 for only 24 hours, once Monday comes back to 0-0 and you have to win the week. Each day is a work day and we have to be able to bring it to practice.”

Coach G

Before deciding to play at Montclair State, Altamura stressed the importance of who the coach he would be playing for.  Rich Giancola, in his 36th year as head coach of the Red Hawks, was the right choice.

“He is the active winningest coach (Division III). He’s knowledgeable about football and knows how to treat players. When they need constructive criticism and a little pick me up. It is a huge honor. There is not one alumni that does not come down and say they don’t love Coach G.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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