Kennedy’s Cruz moves past disappointment in pursuit of college dream

Anthony Cruz isn’t focused what could of have been, but rather what still can happen in the future.

The Kennedy quarterback was one of New York City’s most highly recruited players, garnering interest from the likes of Pittsburgh, Maryland, Syracuse, Rutgers and UConn.

But Cruz, who will attend Nassau Community College in the fall, will have to wait to before he has another chance at becoming a Division I player after narrowly missing the qualify SAT score by around 50 points. The reality hit him hard at the time. Cruz felt like he failed and Coach Andy Lanceberg call it a punch in the gut for him and his coaching staff.

“I was so close to that SAT score,” Cruz said.

Cruz and his coach don’t expect the setback to prevent him from eventually playing at the level where he believes he belongs. Nassau has a long history of sending kids off to top colleges after they play for two seasons. Cruz hopes that time will get him better prepared for what lies ahead at the next level.

“I guess things happen for a reason,” Lanceberg said. “This could make him a better student athlete. I don’t think it’s a big deal. A lot of great players go the JUCO route. He will be fine.”

Before Cruz gets down to the business of college football, he had one final chance to represent Kennedy. He and teammates Mashawn Simmons and Christian Perez were selected to play in the annual Empire Challenge all-star game at Hofstra University June 25. The contest, which benefits the Boomer Esiason Foundation for cystic fibrosis, pits the top seniors from New York City against their Long Island counterparts.

“I’ve been waiting for like three years, and I feel honored to play in this game with the best kids from New York City and the best kids on Long Island,” Cruz said.

He was part of a trio of talented quarterback that included Lincoln’s Javon Moore and New Dorp’s Charlie App to play for the NYC squad. Cruz, an All-Bronx first team selection by the Bronx Times, is a dynamic force at quarterback. He threw for 817 yards and eight touchdowns and ran for 1,088 yards and 13 touchdowns to help the Knights to a 7-4 record last season.

“What I didn’t realize was what a good runner he is too,” Lincoln and New York City Coach Shawn O’Connor said. “He’s got the skills. He’s got the tools. He’s got a real strong arm and he can run well.”

Cruz wasn’t looking at the Empire Challenge as a chance for him to build on his legacy, but instead to remind college coaches of his skills. He was aiming to help New York City put on a good show and get a victory.

“This game is for everybody on the team to leave a good impression,” He said. “It’s not just me that’s playing. It’s everybody in New York City.”

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewski@cnglocal.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.

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