Former Prairie Ridge WR Daniel Faccone earns walk-on spot at D-I St. Francis

Faccone played 1 season at Midwest Prep Academy

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Daniel Faccone watched his older brother David persevere, work through an injury, make himself better through junior college football to reach the NCAA Division I level as a preferred walk-on.

The 2019 Prairie Ridge graduate figured he could take a similar path with playing one season at Midwest Prep Academy on Chicago’s South Side, and it worked.

Daniel Faccone, a 19-year-old wide receiver, will play at D-I St. Francis (Pennsylvania), an FCS school in the Northeast Conference, this season. Faccone was limited by a dislocated kneecap that knocked him out of six weeks of summer workouts before his senior year at Prairie Ridge, but he was determined that he had more football to play.

“It really shows, for kids who are in the same boat as us, that if you really have a passion, anything is possible,” Daniel Faccone said. “In high school, I had a dream to play Division I football and I was going to do everything in my power to make that happen. We didn’t have a lot of opportunities in high school, and we made it to a place where a lot of kids who had more playing time than us didn’t make.”

Faccone, a 6-foot-1, 190-pound wide receiver, earned a lot of respect from the Midwest Prep coaching staff for his efforts.

“Those (preferred walk-on spots) aren’t easy to come by,” said Marques Sullivan, Midwest Prep president. “You can’t just walk up and say, ‘Hey, I want to play football.’ He’s in a situation where he’s going to get an opportunity to prove himself. I think eventually he will be on scholarship. He’s going to prove he belongs there and he’s definitely going to be there every day and working hard.

“This is a kid who will work his butt off for you. He’ll give you everything you ask and will work to improve himself every time he steps on the football field. Coaches appreciate guys like that.”

Sullivan, a former NFL offensive lineman, was teammates with St. Francis coach Chris Villarrial on the Buffalo Bills. Villarrial, an offensive lineman, started his career with the Bears. Sullivan said he has sent Villarrial players from Midwest Prep for about five years.

David Faccone Jr. missed his freshman season at College of DuPage with an injury. He played well his sophomore season and earned a preferred walk-on spot with D-I Monmouth. He (6-2, 235) played on special teams last season and has two remaining years of eligibility.

Daniel Faccone got the same break with three months of prep school.

“First off, the coaching staff, I never knew there would be people who would sell out so much to get their kids recruited,” Daniel Faccone said. “They want to bring kids to the next level. They amplified my skills set. I learned so much about the game. I met guys I will be friends with for the rest of my life. It totally blew my expectations out of the water.”

Faccone was set up for a visit to St. Francis, which is located in Loretto, Penn., but the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions made that impossible. He researched the school and fell in love with the program.

Faccone has been working out with his brother, sometimes going to All-Pro Sports Performance in Libertyville to work with former Bears Jason McKie and Johnny Knox, who are trainers there. He also works with TNT Performance trainer Steve Drain in McHenry and sometimes goes to Leseur Training System in Barrington with David.

“Daniel came in with a chip on his shoulder,” Sullivan said. “He was recovering from an injury, a lot of people were doubting him. He came to Midwest Prep to give himself another opportunity to prove he could still play football at a high level. He did a great job as far as leadership and improving his skills set and his knowledge of the game. He’ll beat you with his mind, he’ll beat you with his technique. He’s a reliable player.”