McKinney Boyd senior Matteo Bianchi will continue his football career into college after verbally committing to Navy.

Committed as McKinney Boyd senior Matteo Bianchi is to helping guide the Broncos back to the playoffs, it’s never too early to begin planning for your future after football.

That decision weighed heavily on what Bianchi was looking for while sifting through a myriad of college scholarship offers — many of which Boyd’s star linebacker has received over the past month.

Amidst a busy recruiting process, Bianchi found his ideal mix — the opportunity to play Division I college football while setting himself up for a productive career once his time on the gridiron is finished — and announced as much on Tuesday with a verbal commitment to Navy.

“It felt so good. I’ve been through a lot in the recruiting process and things didn’t really come on until my senior year,” Bianchi said. “I’m super excited with the navy because of the opportunities you’ll get after graduating and getting that degree. That’s one of the main things I’m about, plus the history and excitement of playing in the Army game and just how respected Navy football is.”

With an older brother, fellow Boyd alum Zach Bianchi, already enrolled at Navy, plus an uncle who served in the air force, Matteo said he weighed Navy opposite schools like New Mexico State, Abilene Christian and Stephen F. Austin, but that the post-college options of a service academy degree were too enticing to pass up.

“There’s nothing better than a degree from Navy or Army, and just knowing that after you graduate that you’ll have a job as an officer in the navy. That stuck out to me compared to a regular school, knowing I’ll have a good job after graduation and when I’m done serving,” Bianchi said. “Also, just the football environment at Navy. They might not have the highest rated players, but I really respect the way the coaches mold the team together and build a winning culture.”

Tuesday’s decision was a gratifying one for the Boyd linebacker, who has had ambitions of playing college football since he was a freshman. Bianchi’s recruitment took some time to get rolling, holding just one Division I offer (Abilene Christian) following his junior season. A chance to elevate his profile in the spring didn’t exactly pan out, for obvious reasons.

“I thought spring ball was going to be my time to shine with college coaches coming to practice, but COVID hit and lasted all summer,” Bianchi said. “There were no camps either. I knew my fall season would be my chance to show out to coaches.”

Bianchi impressed right out of the gates with a stout showing against Flower Mound in Boyd’s season opener, but said that things took off a few weeks later after a breakout showing against Trophy Club Byron Nelson — a 14-7 overtime victory where Bianchi totaled 15 tackles, six for a loss, as well as two sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one blocked field goal.

Between Oct. 22-28, Bianchi tweeted offers from Lamar, Houston Baptist, Northwestern State, Incarnate Word and, lastly, Navy.

The interest was plenty justified, with Bianchi among the area’s breakout defensive players. Entering Friday’s district ballgame against Denton Guyer, he has 41 solo tackles, 23 assisted and 13 for a loss of yardage, as well as five sacks, 15 quarterback pressures, five pass break-ups and five forced fumbles.

“Just knowing that I’m a senior and have to be a leader, I’m a lot more confident,” Bianchi said. “I also gained about 30 pounds from my junior year and got a lot stronger as well. I also learned a lot more about being in coach Kirk McBride’s defense and how things work. I feel a lot more comfortable and things are really slowing down for me.”

A centerpiece in a defense that’s allowing just 19.6 points per game, Bianchi has helped steer Boyd toward playoff contention. The Broncos are in search of their first playoff appearance since 2014 — something that would be particularly gratifying for Bianchi and the rest of the team’s senior class.

“There are so many of us that have no idea what the playoffs are even like,” Bianchi said. “It’d be a really good feeling knowing that we were the ones who got Boyd back.”

He’s well aware of what needs to materialize in the standings for that to happen, with all signs pointing toward another high-profile showdown against rival McKinney. The Lions and Broncos square off at 2 p.m. Friday from McKinney ISD Stadium in a game that could very well decide the final playoff spot in 5-6A.

Bianchi couldn’t script a more fitting way to potentially end his school’s playoff drought.

“Knowing that you need to win that one to make the playoffs just makes it a little more special,” Bianchi said.

For continued news and coverage on the local sports scene, follow Matt Welch on Twitter.

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