ALBANY -- Tony Zenon put on his best poker face when Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson pulled up a chair next to the Deerfield-Windsor star on Friday night at dinner in Atlanta, where he told Zenon seven little words he's been waiting to hear: We'd like to offer you a scholarship.
"It was hard (to keep my emotions) in check. I was excited -- you could definitely say that," Zenon told The Herald on Sunday afternoon, just hours after clarifying his college football future once and for all by announcing his commitment to the Yellow Jackets. "I just sat there, finished my meal and tried to play it cool."
Zenon, who chose Tech over offers from Georgia Southern, Marshall and Chattanooga, said he first called his parents with the news as they drove from Albany to Atlanta to meet Zenon later Friday evening for a tour of the Yellow Jackets' campus the next morning.
"That was pretty much it. They came, we looked around and they got a really good feel for it and we just decided this was the best move for me," said Zenon, who was named the 2009 Herald John Reynolds Player of the Year in Decemeber after leading the Knights back to the GISA Class AAA state title game. "I'd been up there before and I knew I liked it, but it was important for (my parents) to see it before we made the final decision."
Of course, if you've been listening to Zenon talk endlessly before his senior season ever began about how Tech has always been his dream school, the decision had really already been made.
"It was my No. 1 choice, for sure,"
Zenon said. "I have to be honest, though: I was on the verge of going to Marshall. It was kind of a Plan A, Plan B type thing."
Zenon, who rushed for 2,268 yards and 27 touchdowns last season, and also caught 11 passed for 216 yards and three touchdowns, will sign his national letter-of-intent Wednesday, which is National Signing Day for prep football players across the country. The ceremony is set to place at Deerfield -Windsor at 3:30 p.m.
And when the ink finally dries on his offer, Zenon said you'd better believe he'll be relieved.
"Oh yeah," he said. "I'm ready to do this, for sure."
Zenon said he kept the decision close to his vest until late Saturday night but eventually confided in a friend.
Then, to his surprise, the phone calls started pouring in.
"I told, like, one person -- one friend," Zenon began with a laugh, "and, of course, he went and told everyone."
As for expected playing time in the early going, Zenon said Johnson told him that if he shows he's ready after spring and fall practice, it's simple: he'll play.
"At first, when he visited me two weeks ago (in Albany), he started talking about a gray shirt, and I wasn't really feeling that," he said. "But at dinner, he basically said that if I put in the work and show I'm ready, I'll get to play. But at the very worst, I'll just redshirt."
The Yellow Jackets' sound academic programs also helped solidify the decision, Zenon said.
"Right now, I want to major in architecture and engineering -- because I really think I can draw pretty good," he said. "But that could change. Who knows? All I know right now is that I'm just glad I'm going to Georgia Tech. I'll figure out the rest later."