Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Buford offensive tackle Josh Cardiello has committed to play center for the University of Georgia next season.
This is one of six features on the Daily Post's Super Six selections for high school football. To see all six athletes, click HERE.
THE CARDIELLO FILE
• School: Buford
• Class: Senior
• Position: Offensive/defensive lineman
• Height: 6-foot-4
• Weight: 285 pounds
• College choice: Committed to Georgia
• Nickname: None
• Place of birth: Houston, Texas
• Role model: Jake Long
• Favorite restaurant: Taco Mac
• Favorite store: Polo Outlet
• Favorite teacher: Mr. Lawley
• Favorite subject: History
• Text messages I send a month: Too many to count
• Twitter handle: @joshcardiello56
• Superstitions: None
• Funniest teammate: Dontravious Wilson
• Life’s dream: Be in the NFL
• Info file: Cardiello came to Buford as a tuition-paying freshman who lived in Cumming. He played early on as a Wolves lineman, starting last year and watching his team come up short in overtime in the state championship game. The childhood Florida State fan returns as a Georgia commitment and as one of the few returning starters and seniors for Buford this season.
• Coach Jess Simpson’s take: “What he has always possessed is Josh is a very good athlete who happens to be an offensive lineman. He has tremendous punch. He has great hips. He can knock folks off the ball. That’s really, probably, his greatest strength as a lineman, that he can go forward really explosively.”
BUFORD — It's the first day of practice in pads at Buford and Josh Cardiello prepared for the evening practice by playing golf.
He's about a 10 handicap, giving credence to Buford head coach Jess Simpson's assurance that his division I-caliber offensive lineman is "a very good athlete who happens to be an offensive lineman."
And he went to play geared up. Bright red Georgia dri-fit shirt. University of Georgia visor. His phone never rings, but you'd imagine it belting out "Glory" for all to hear. He looks like most Georgia kids. The ones who don't play football. Who grew up listening to Larry Munson and yelling "Go Dogs" right after learning to say "Mom" and "Dad."
But that's not Cardiello's genesis story.
"I was a die-hard Florida State fan," the Buford senior said. "My whole family is Florida State fans, so we have to get them all changed to Georgia fans."
That's because next season, Cardiello won't be wearing garnet and gold. Like this day, he'll be wearing Georgia red.
Cardiello grew up in Florida and moved to Cumming in fifth grade. He never switched alliances until the reality of recruitment and making a choice with his head trumped his heart. He switched then and is certain his parents will do the same.
"My grandpa might just root for me, but I think my parents will root for Georgia," Cardiello said.
As the lineman enters his senior year at Buford, he may be wearing Georgia stuff, but his heart is still green and gold.
"It's been good since (committing to Georgia). I haven't had to deal with the whole recruiting thing. It's good to have that over with and just focus on high school football," Cardiello said. "I really think Georgia was the best fit for me in all aspects, whether it was coaching or opportunities that I have there or how far it is from home. I just think that compared to all the other schools I was interested in, it was the best fit for me."
Just like Buford.
Cardiello, by residence, should attend South Forsyth. But entering his freshman year he chose Buford. He pays tuition and drives across Ga. Hwy. 20 to school and practice each day. He understands the tradition and wants to continue it. After losing in overtime of the state championship and then watching most of the team graduate, Cardiello knows this season is about his class maintaining Buford's tradition, even as it rises from Class AA to AAA.
"It's been a lot harder than it was the year before," Cardiello said of this offseason. "We kind of have a chip on our shoulder, not winning state. The coaches know where we want to be and we know what we have to do to be there. I think it hasn't been super-hard but they've been trying to push us. We want it more. It's more of a want thing, rather than we have to go here and the coaches are going to make us die because we didn't win state."
And Cardiello has taken on the mantle of leadership over the offseason.
"You are always wanting your linemen to practice faster and bounce around more, we ask a lot of Josh, but Josh is a leader and he's got a good heart," Simpson said. "I am hoping to see him grow as a leader just like the rest of those 20 seniors. I always say just because you are a senior it doesn't mean you learned how to lead in a day."
It's been since fourth grade for Cardiello, playing tight end and then growing out of the right to carry the ball and becoming a lineman. Then picking Buford and getting his college choice out of the way so he can give one final high school season his full attention.
"You kind of have a sour taste in your mouth when you lose," Cardiello said. "It's never fun."