Mike Prestipino knew he played on a great team loaded with potential future Division I players, but it didn’t totally hit him until after the calls started coming in.
Not for him, at least not right away, but after Prestipino’s Rising Sons team posted a good showing at the inaugural MVP Rising tournament at Towson, he saw his teammates piquing the interest of many of college lacrosse’s heavy hitters.
“I remember (a traditional powerhouse) reached out to three of the poles on our team right after that tournament,” Prestipino said. “I wasn’t one of them, but it didn’t matter much to me. I just thought, ‘wow, this is actually happening.’”
He wasn’t a part of the very first wave of calls, but it didn’t take long before Prestipino firmly entrenched himself on the recruiting board at a lot of top 25 schools. It actually started happening for the now-NXT 2020 LSM and defenseman and Conestoga freshman, and once it did, he didn’t have to look far for advice.
Prestipino’s brother, Nick, played on a pair of state championship teams at Conestoga before enrolling at West Point. That meant that the younger Prestipino had someone in his corner who’d been through it all before, something not lost on him.
“He was really the one giving me the most advice,” Prestipino said. “I really respect what he has to say. I talked to him about everything, especially lacrosse-wise.”
Prestipino’s first visit in the process was to Penn State, one that set the bar for all future visits to be judged against. He knew that he liked the school, but he needed to measure it against so many of the sport’s other big names. Once he found himself on campus at a few other schools, his mind kept coming back to Happy Valley. Satisfied with what he had seen, Prestipino opted to become a Nittany Lion. He’s the fourth NXT 2020 to commit and the third to Penn State after fellow Sons alums and Malvern Prep duo Champ Doyle and Cade Szostek.
“After I saw a lot of other schools, I knew that Penn State was the right fit,” Prestipino said. “Having Champ and Cade already committed there played a huge role for me. They’re two of my best friends, so I’m looking forward to eight more years with them. I have a lot of respect for (Penn State head coach) Coach (Jeff) Tambroni. I think he’s building a championship program and I want to be a part of it. He’s a great guy and I can see myself having a lot of fun playing on that team.”
Prestipino is a tad undersized right now, but with two six-foot-tall brothers, there’s little doubt that he’ll grow into the part of a big-time Division I defenseman. What he lacks for in size, he makes up for with excellent quickness and footwork that make him a less-than-ideal matchup for offenses.
“Mike had a strong fall for us, aggressively covering our opponents’ top midfield threats all over the field while showing an ability to get the ball off the ground and spark transition for our offense,” 2020 head coach Chris Williams said. “He does a great job of anticipating plays before they develop, and as a result, he’s able to play a step ahead of the offense and dictate the terms of his matchup. Our 2020 team has quite the Nittany Lion flavor to it and we’re excited for him to join Champ and Cade in Penn State’s class.”
Prestipino’s strong fall also gave him a mental edge over the competition. He was always a great player for the Sons, but working his way into a new defense and still blanketing his assignment helped out big-time.
“I want to thank (Rising Sons) Coach (Tad) Doyle because he recognized my potential early on and he really pushed me,” Prestipino said. “I also want to thank Coach (Maurice) Glavin, Coach Billy Connersand Coach (Todd) MacFarlane for building me as a lacrosse player, and of course, the entire NXT coaching staff for putting me in good spots to show my skills. They helped build my confidence that even though I’m on the smaller side, I can guard any kid in the country.”
Now the big challenge awaits Prestipino. He might be committed and Conestoga did graduate some high-level defenders, but he’s still a freshman and he’ll have his work cut out for him to make the varsity team. Just don’t count him out.
“I’m going to have to work hard in the classroom and on the field and I’m hoping to have a good shot to play varsity this spring,” Prestipino said. “I’m really excited for this spring. I’m trying out at LSM and we have two older LSMs, so I’ll have to show what I can do. I think I’m a really scrappy player who always has a good attitude and encourages his teammates to do better, and I never give up.”
No reason to start now.
Follow NXT Lacrosse on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.