Sunday, October 06, 2013

Risk of losing recruits a concern for revamped UConn staff

One of the reasons why it is rare to see mid-season coaching changes or in UConn's case a third of season coaching changes is the trickle down impact on recruits - both committed and otherwise.

From now until UConn names a head coach rival teams can use the "you don't even know who is going to be coaching you" angle to try to either get UConn commits to flip or make it more difficult to secure pledges from the uncommitted players the Huskies are pursuing.

Interim head coach T.J. Weist addressed that issue during his conference call with the media on Friday.

"Our staff has talked to all of our commits," Weist said "I have talked to the majority of them and reassured them that the athletic department and (coaching staff) are behind them, that their scholarships are still good with us and that we want them. Those guys have been very responsive to us and they understand the situation but one of the first things that I had to do and we had to do was make sure our commits knew there was stability, that was important to us. That is important to us in recruiting, not just the commits, but anybody we are recruiting and any recruit that is out there that they understand right away we have stability. I sent a letter announcing myself as the head coach and we are behind the (Connecticut) schools and we appreciate their support, telling them the direction that we have in this program and how much every school in the state means from a recruiting standpoint whether they have players (UConn is recruiting) or not. I am going to make it an emphasis in the state of Connecticut that we get the best players."

I placed some calls this week, headed over to Ansonia's practice on Thursday to get Arkeel Newsome and to yesterday's St. Paul/Kennedy game to speak to Logan Marchi on this subject.

Not surprisingly, the two Connecticut natives currently on UConn's list of commitments said they are still committed to UConn. That is pretty much standard operating procedure as the only kids who would decommit within a week of a coaching shakeup are those whose pledge was on shaky ground to begin with. If all the players who are currently UConn commits sign with the Huskies in February that would be a remarkable achievement. Past history indicates that will not be the case.

Newsome and Marchi said all the things you would expect them to say

"It was a big surprise," Newsome said, "I didn’t think anything was going to happen because I was pretty cool with both of the coaches, Coach DeLeone and Coach Pasqualoni

"I am not too familiar with the offensive coordinator (Weist), I am still cool with (Kermit) Buggs the running backs coach and my recruiting coach (Jon) Wholley. I am still looking forward to being there

"My first reaction was ‘is this going to affect my scholarship?’"

When I spoke to Marchi following a preseason scrimmage for a feature did on the St. Paul senior quarterback, he took the "UConn is in my future and I am focused entirely on my senior season" approach. He didn't change his stance when I spoke to him yesterday.

"My reaction, I don’t really have a reaction," Marchi said. "It doesn’t really impact me too much. They made that decision as a program there. I just have to sit back, wait and do what I do and (do) what’s best for me, just to continue keep playing my senior year and just go what is in place what is (set in) stone. I still have a senior year to play and I still have a scholarship to UConn so I will continue to do what I do and hope for the best. I committed there, that is the commitment that I made. Things can change but right now that is where I want to be and where I want to stay."

One issue I want to raise is the way Paul Pasqualoni has been portrayed as being interested in recruiting only in Connecticut. There's no question that the support of the Connecticut high school coaches played a significant role in Pasqualoni's hiring and there has been some backlash from that group since UConn pulled the plug on the Pasqualoni/George DeLeone era at UConn. However, the idea that Pasqualoni had a one-track recruiting mind and it centered only on securing in-state commitments is simply not accurate.

While Newsome and Marchi are very talented players who will headline this current recruiting class if they sign with UConn in February. Pennsylvania High School stars Alec Bloom and Luke Carrezola and Leicester (Mass.) Tom Rodrick are enjoying spectacular senior seasons and figure to get plenty of interest from opposing recruiters in the coming months. Getting 2013 signee Chasz Wright to remain committed to UConn and bringing in fellow offensive line recruits Lamont Bradford and Trey Rutherford could be even more important for UConn's future.

Looking even deeper into this subject, by my count 16 players signed since Pasqualoni's arrival (not including transfers) have played for UConn this season and only two of them hail from Connecticut (starting fullback Matt Walsh and quarterback Casey Cochran, who mopped up at quarterback in fourth quarter of Buffalo game). There are more players from Florida (John Green, Ellis Marder and Jhavon Williams) and Pennsylvania (Jon Hicks, Brian Lemelle and Zach Rugg) who have played for UConn out of the Class of 2012 and 2013 recruiting classes than from Connecticut. Maryland (Jordan Floyd and E.J. Norris) and New Jersey (Richard Levy and Tyler Samra) matched the number of Connecticut natives to play for the Huskies this season.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home