PEABODY– When Eric DeMayo joined the football team at Peabody High as a freshman, it only took him four weeks to find the field and the rest was history. Through his four-year career as a Tanner, DeMayo emerged as one of the Northeastern Conference’s most feared two-way players as a running back and linebacker.
Last week DeMayo solidified his future plans when he committed to join the football team at Division I Wagner University in Staten Island, New York. Through the college commitment process, DeMayo also considered joining Bentley and handful of Ivy League schools. He signed his National Letter of Intent Wednesday morning at Peabody High.
“It was definitely a huge relief,” DeMayo, a three-sport athlete, said of the decision. “It has been a long and stressful process. It’s a huge relief to finally know where I’m going and I’m excited about it.
“Originally I was looking to play at some Ivy League schools,” DeMayo added. “Most of them faded away. Wagner and Bentley were the two schools on my list in mid-December. I visited both and I just felt Wagner was going to be a better fit.”
DeMayo’s coach at Peabody, Mark Bettencourt, served as a good source of advice as the senior weighed his options and searched for the best fit. Bettencourt, a former quarterback at Peabody, went through a similar process when he considered where to continue his baseball career. Bettencourt played four seasons of baseball (1991-1995) as a pitcher at Boston College.
“I talked to Coach Bettencourt a lot,” DeMayo said. “He was doing everything he could to help. The process has changed a lot since he did it. We both put our best into it. His advice to me was to find somewhere where I’d be happy and I think I did that.”
For Bettencourt, DeMayo’s commitment to a Division I program is a culmination of those who molded the future Seahawk throughout his career at Peabody. That consists of a strong support system that includes Bettencourt, assistant coaches and DeMayo’s family members.
“I’m happy for Eric and his family,” Bettencourt said. “I’m happy for everyone that was involved in making Eric the kid he is. When kids like this come around, it’s a moment of reward for everybody that put into the final product here. This area has a lot of new fans of Wagner football, they’ll all follow him and hope he does well.”
Bettencourt noted that DeMayo’s football resume speaks for itself. He feels as though the coaching staff at Wagner knows the type of football player it’ll be getting in DeMayo, but the dedication he presents off the field is what makes him a standout athlete.
“If I were a Wagner coach, I’d be excited to get Eric,” Bettencourt, who also coaches DeMayo in baseball, said. “His football talent speaks for itself. What they don’t know yet is the type of kid they’re getting. He’s a kid that never misses practice. They don’t have to worry about what type of kid he is or what type of work ethic he has off the field. When you land kids like Eric with the support system he has, it makes the overall program better because you’ve added a quality person.”
In making the jump from high school football to the Division I collegiate level, both DeMayo and Bettencourt anticipate challenges along the way. That doesn’t mean DeMayo will walk onto the gridiron at Wagner with nerves or butterflies.
“I came into the transition from youth football to high school football with the same mentality of coming in to compete,” DeMayo recalled. “Four weeks later I was on the field. When I’m on the same field with guys that are better than me, I make it my goal to beat them. I’m going to push myself as best I can.”
“Once he gets there, I’m sure he’ll have a little adjustment period,” Bettencourt said. “Kids will be faster and stronger but Eric feeds off that. When my foster son, Doug Santos, went to Assumption he had to adjust. I think Eric’s no different. I would never hold back Eric. He can do anything he sets his mind to. It only took him four games to find the field as a freshman at Peabody and there weren’t many who thought he’d do that.”
Now with his future plans cemented, DeMayo can focus on ending his high school athletic career on a winning note. He’s currently wrapping up his final season as a thrower on the indoor track team and will them jump right into serving as the starting catcher for the Tanners baseball team.
“We’re wrapping up the track season. I’m among the top three or four throwers in the state,” DeMayo said. “I’d like to qualify for nationals and see where it goes. In terms of baseball, it’s been a bit of a disappointment the past three seasons. We’d really like to make a tournament run and bring home a championship. With the burden of making my decision off my chest, I think I’m in a better position to do that.”