Catching up with ... Tony Visco
Tony Visco cherishes the memories he made while playing football at Purdue from 1983-87.
He arrived in West Lafayette in 1983 and promptly redshirted. He made a splash in his debut in 1984, helping the Boilermakers beat Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan en route to earning a Peach Bowl bid.
Visco—a member of Delta Tau Delta—finished his career in West Lafayette with 351 tackles, which still ranks No. 10 in Purdue annals. Visco's 210 career solo tackles are No. 17 in school history. And his team-leading eight sacks in 1987 still rank No. 14 in a single season in Boilermaker record books.
The 6-4, 235-pound Visco was the No. 4 overall pick in the 1987 draft, getting tabbed by the BC Lions. He went on to play in the CFL from 1988-91, toiling for Toronto, BC, Saskatchewan and Hamilton before retiring.
Visco, a native of Mississauga, Ont., has called Chattanooga, Tenn., home for over 10 years. He is the operations manager for Louisville Tile of Chattanooga.
GoldandBlack.com caught up with Visco.
GoldandBlack.com: How did you end up at Purdue coming from Canada?
Visco: I attended some of the football camps up in Toronto. A bunch of CFL players were there. And the Purdue head recruiter at the time, Willard Wells, was there. He was from British Columbia. He had been up there in the CFL just like Joe Tiller was. Willard was the one who ended up recruiting me. I sent him him some highlight films from high school. Schools like Ball State were in there, Michigan. Actually, the day I signed with Purdue, Bo Schembechler called me and offered me a scholarship at the University of Michigan. But I had already signed. I also was recruited by Don James with the Washington Huskies. I came to Purdue as a tight end in 1983 and got switched to outside linebacker the spring of my freshman year. I came in with (Rod) Woodson, Cris Dishman.
GoldandBlack.com: Talk about the first game you played in vs. Notre Dame in the inaugural game in the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis in 1984.
Visco: That was a good Notre Dame team. Ranked. Here's a good ol’ Canadian boy growing up on hockey playing in front of 65,000-plus fans. It was loud. It was crazy. What a game. They had a big tight end named Mark Bavaro. Steve Beuerlein was the quarterback.
It was a great, great game. We upset them and got the momentum going, started to click. We went 7-5 that year. We upset Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan. I don’t think any team since has beaten those three in the same season. We had some athletes and we clicked. I played with Fred Strickland. (Kevin) Sumlin was in there. Jason Houston.
GoldandBlack.com: What’s your best memory from Purdue?
Visco: The Notre Dame game. Going to the Peach Bowl. Upsetting Ohio State and Keith Byars in West Lafayette. Beating Michigan in 1984, too. Playing homecoming games was fun with the fans and being on national TV at times. And any game with IU was great.
GoldandBlack.com: Who do you stay in touch with?
Visco: Strickland on Facebook. A few times with Woodson. Ernie Schramayr, who was a little younger than me. It has been a few years since I have been on campus. I was at the Music City Bowl in Nashville a couple years ago. I saw a bunch of guys then, DeWayne Penn and others.
GoldandBlack.com: Back in your day, Purdue had several Canadians on the team. How did that come about?
Visco: I think when I got recruited, it opened up the door a bit. I was a freshman All-American. We had Dan Payne, a big offensive tackle who I think was on the Canadian wrestling team. He played in the CFL. We had Rob Reynolds. There was Bill Hitchcock from the Montreal, Quebec, area. Ernie Schramayr. I helped recruit those guys. Top talent. Ernie punted for us and was a fullback. Bill started at defensive tackle and moved to offense. My roommate, Sean Guy, was from Canada, a d-tackle. And Willard’s connections helped, too, along with Tiller, who was our defensive coordinator. They always were keeping their eye on Canadian talent. I was the host for most of those guys when they visited Purdue.
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GoldandBlack.com: Talk about your CFL career.
Visco: I played just under five years in the CFL. First, I was drafted by the BC Lions and ended up getting traded to my hometown Toronto Argonauts. And I played a couple years with Toronto. I go traded back to BC, and I got traded again to the Saskatchewan Roughriders. I wrapped up my playing career I think it was 1992 with Hamilton Tiger-Cats. And then from there, I had some opportunities to play other places, but I was getting older and opted to retire. I had my degree and was healthy. It was time for another career.
GoldandBlack.com: What have you been doing since your football career ended?
Visco: I worked for Home Depot for a long time across the nation, managing their stores. I did that almost 20 years. I worked in Indiana, Canada, Atlanta, Ga., Appleton, Wis. I got out of that rat race and slowed down and for the last almost 11 years I have worked for a privately held company called Louisville Tile Distributors out of Chattanooga managing their operations. The parent company is in Louisville, Ky., I am their operations manager. We are a tile distributor. We do everything. We sell to the public, sell to commercial, sell to builders, so forth and so on.
GoldandBlack.com: So, Tennessee is home?
Visco: I have settled down in Tennessee. I love it. I was here in 2000 (then moved away). I love the area, the mountains, rivers. Love riding a Harley and all that neat stuff. I eventually came back here in 2007 and have stayed.
GoldandBlack.com: Are you married? Children?
Visco: Mrs. V, Valerie. This is my second marriage. She has a son named Thomas, a daughter Tiffany. We have two grand kids, Robert and Camille. I have my daughter for my first marriage, Charlene, who is a Purdue grad, following in the footsteps of me and her mom. Life is good.
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