Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Recruiting process about to kick into high gear at UConn

During his appearance on UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma's radio show new UConn football coach Bob Diaco didn't pull any punches in identifying the priorities for his newly-formed coaching staff.

"Get to know the team and recruiting, there is really no time for anything else," Diaco said.

As for the current players, he has been in contact with all the players. He addressed the quarterbacks during the show.

"Casey (Cochran) popped through today, Tim (Boyle) has come through, I had a phone conversation with Chandler (Whitmer) so we have been engaging all of those quarterbacks. They have moxie, guts, can spin it very well and all of those guys have great tangible traits."

Of the air he said he has been getting tremendous reports on the skill set of freshman Kivon Taylor who redshirted last season.

The NCAA's month-long recruiting dead period ends a week from tomorrow so that doesn't give Diaco a heck of a lot of time to get his staff organized so they can hit the road in the quest for new prospects to go with the ones still committed to UConn.

"It is needs and what the group looked like in terms of the players who are committed and how we are going to assimilate into that (picture)."

So how many players can Diaco sign for the upcoming season?

"It is very easy to look at it and see the open scholarship numbers and add players to fill that group accordingly but what we really need to do is look at 2015, what does that number look like?" Diaco said. "Let’s say that it 15 or 16 (available scholarships) in 2015, is it better to add 20 (in 2014) and keep it there or is it better to add 18 and add two to the Class of 2015? That is the balance that we have to look at so I can’t say for sure what the number looks like. I would to say to me to somewhere around 18.

"Everything’s a challenge, you are trying to get turnarounds for reimbursements or stipends to hit the road faster than you would normally have to plan for it, recruiting areas, where do you want to send the guys? Where they were as opposed to where they were going to be, the recruiting contacts that they want to continue and have relationship with because they have players but we are looking forward to sending them in different areas as long as what the needs are in trying to get new players evaluated in two weeks, it is a challenge."

Diaco said "we are not going to chase talent just for talent sake" as he is looking for the combination of talent (skill and power are the words he used) and the right fit for the football team and university.

There are currently 10 recruits committed to UConn and Diaco repeated what he said following his introductory press conference and that is he will honor all previous commitments.

UConn typically doesn't announce the January enrollees until the spring semester starts and that is still a couple weeks ago but Chris Britton, a linebacker from Harrisburg, Pa., and Jamar Summers, a defensive back from Orange, N.J. who spent a postgraduate season at Milford Academy, are slated to enroll later this month.
"I think we are trying to work through two, I am going to know more (Tuesday) morning," Diaco said.

If the football coaching thing didn't work out for Diaco he could have made a killing in the public relations field because he is a first-rate salesman. Case in point is what he had to say about tickets going on sale for UConn's home football games today.

"The schedule is fun, energetic, exciting games and the in-conference schedule is going to be awesome, we are excited about putting a team out there together and getting an absolutely great environment going in that facility with the people and fan experience. We are working with sales and marketing right now to talk about that game experience, we are trying to create environment where it is a great family way to come spend three and a half hours."

Some of Diaco's most intriguing comments on the air might have been about player engagement role given to running backs coach Ernest Jones.

"It is teaching them how to write a resume, it is teaching them how to do an interview; it is teaching them how to set a table and place the fork and knife properly for etiquette. It is teaching them different life lessons, different social lessons and also develop a year-long plan where we are out in the community."

Diaco references the work former baseball coach Andy Baylock who has spent more than a decade as the Director of Football Alumni Affairs as being pivotal to the type of environment he is looking to create at UConn.

Diaco hasn't decided where he is going to live.

"I have no idea haven’t thought about it."



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