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Former MHS, MJC star QB commits to UMass
ALUM Gino Campiotti
Gino Campiotti poses for photos during his visit at the University of Massachusetts Amherst last week. UMASS ATHLETICS/Courtesy photo

Gino Campiotti has once again realized his dream of getting an NCAA Division I football scholarship, only this time he’ll get the chance to play at a higher level.

Modesto Junior College’s talented dual-threat quarterback has committed to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a program with renewed hope in the Football Bowl Subdivision with the return of Don Brown as head coach.

Campiotti, a 2018 Manteca High alumnus, visited UMass last week and returned home on Sunday. He’ll begin his cross-country road trip back to the East Coast this Friday and begins classes next Tuesday.

“Ever since I was little I dreamed of playing FBS football and playing against some of the top dogs,” he said. “The next step is earning a spot and getting a chance to play against those guys moving forward.”

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound signal caller signed with Northern Arizona University out of high school, but his time at Flagstaff did not go as planned. He sustained a broken shoulder and a concussion, and he was forced from his preferred position to tight end.

“I want to play on Sundays (in the NFL) and I’m not ready to give up on that yet,” Campiotti said. “That’s part of the reason why I came home from Northern Arizona to begin with. I feel that my best chance at playing in the NFL is as a quarterback.”

Campiotti had a stellar season in MJC’s spread offense, earning All-Valley League Offensive MVP honors and making the All-America Community College Football Team. He was named the top dual-threat quarterback in California and No. 3 in the nation by JCGridiron after passing for 1,931 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushing for 834 yards and nine scores.

Four-year universities took notice. Campiotti received 13 offers, including two from Division I Football Championship Subdivision programs Alabama A&M and Saint Francis University.

“MJC has been a huge blessing to me,” Campiotti said. “I appreciate the experience I got to have there and to grow with the players and coaches. Ultimately, it really, really paid off and it made me better in the long run. I couldn’t be more thankful for every single person at MJC.”

Campiotti was recruited to UMass by wide receivers coach Ryan Partridge and offensive coordinator/quarterback coach Steve Casula. Partridge and Casula previously coached together at Division II powerhouse Ferris State where they employed a spread offense. Partridge arrived from University of Arizona where he was a recruiting coordinator, but prior to that he headed Brentwood-based Liberty High and led the Lions to the 2018 California Interscholastic Federation Division I-A state title.

As for Brown, this will be his second stint at UMass. The acclaimed defensive mastermind led the Minutemen to their most successful five-year stretch in school history, going 43-19 from 2004-08. Brown was named Atlantic-10 Coach of the Year in 2006, and UMass finished as FCS runner-up. He was defensive coordinator for the Division I-AA national championship team in 1998.

Brown has bounced around different FBS programs in the past 13 years and was most recently defensive coordinator at Arizona. He also worked at Michigan, Boston College, UConn and Maryland.

“Coach Brown is a winner,” Campiotti said. “He has won at every stop.”

And the Minutemen are getting a winner in Campiotti, who led MJC to an 8-3 record this past fall. The Pirates ended their season with a dominant win in the Grizzly Bowl and a No. 8 state ranking. At Manteca High, Campiotti shattered multiple passing records and led the Buffaloes to two Sac-Joaquin Section championships.

He is confident that UMass can return to its former glory as soon as next year following what has been a dismal run in the FBS ranks. The Minutemen have been independent since 2016 and is coming off a 1-11 campaign.

“This upcoming year it’s a bowl game-or-bust mentality for every guy I met on my visit,” Campiotti said. “They have not won too many games the past couple of years but we’re definitely going to make a lot of noise.”

He looks forward to his return to Amherst, even if it’s a few degrees colder than usual for the NorCal kid.

“One major adjustment is the cold,” Campiotti said. “This weekend on my visit it was about 5 degrees but felt like negative 10 with the wind chill. That’ll be an environmental change, for sure.

“Other than that, it felt way more Manteca-ish than I expected. There weren’t a lot of students around, so I don’t’ think I got a very realistic look of Amherst. I’m really excited to go out there and see what it’s really like.”