Monday, January 20, 2014

Shelton's Hashemi discusses his commitment to UConn

It's been a hectic couple of days including a trip to New Jersey to catch up with UConn women's basketball signee Sadie Edwards and cover the UConn/Rutgers women's basketball game but I was finally able to catch up with new UConn football commit Steve Hashemi.

Hashemi is a three-year starting offensive tackle for Class M champion St. Joseph of Trumbull and the Shelton native tells the story of how he was offered a scholarship and how quickly he accepted the offer.

"I (didn't have) any contact with them at all and I full scholarship (offer) to the University of Richmond. One of the coaches from Richmond (Wayne Lineburg) had actually moved to UConn (to become special teams coordinator and receivers coach) with Coach (Bob) Diaco. He called me up 10 or 11 days ago and said ‘Steve, we still like you and we’d love to have you up. I am not sure what the situation is and if we have any scholarships to offer you so I am not going to promise you anything.’ One day Coach Dell (St. Joseph football coach Joe Della Vecchia) got a call and it was from the recruiting coordinator (Kevin Wolthausen) from Connecticut. They said they love me and everything and they just want to give me a call. I gave them a call, provided them with some of my information and they invited me up on my official. I went up with my mother, my father and my brother.

"We went up the first night and it was absolutely fantastic. Saturday there was a tour of the entire campus and all the football facilities. On Saturday night we were eating in the alumni center before the UConn/Louisville (men’s basketball) game and one of the coaches tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to go to one of the offices. I was with my mother and my father and I was sitting down and Coach Diaco walked in, he shook my hand, shook my mother’s and father’s hand and we started talking and finally he said ‘Steve, what would you think about coming to UConn?’ I said ‘Coach, there would be no other place I would rather go, anybody who plays football in Connecticut dreams that they would love to play football at UConn and represent the state.' He said 'what are your options?' and I said I did have a few other I-AA scholarships and they are all full (scholarships) and that was when he said ‘Steve, we would like to offer you a full scholarship.’ I said,‘Coach, I’d like to take it.’ He said ‘are you committing?’ I said ‘yes sir.’"

It's been a pretty eventful couple of months for Hashemi who helped the Cadets win the Class M title and now he landed a scholarship from UConn.  He said the UConn coaches told him they project him to play offensive tackle.

"It was unbelievable and even when I was sitting there and saying yes, I couldn’t stop smiling and the goosebumps just kept rising," Hashemi said.

Hashemi said is not surprised to hear about commitments coming from the other players up at UConn on official visits over the weekend. Lawrenceville (N.J.) Academy receiver Anthony Watkins and defensive tackle and Palmetto Ridge (Fla.) running back Ron Johnson have committed.

"The energy that he (Diaco) has is just something else," Hashemi said. "You walk into a room and everybody can feel the energy that he has. At the basketball game he walked onto the middle of the court during one of the timeouts and starting getting all the fans (excited). I think is he is really going to turn around the program. He was talking all the parents into meetings and talking about his philosophy and how he believes in being positive 24/7. He doesn’t want to bring anybody down. If somebody does something wrong he is going to tell them how to correct it, he is not going to give them sarcasm or make them feel like absolute (garbage)."

Hashemi, who also plays on the St. Joseph basketball team, didn't play football until his freshman year at St. Joseph as that was the first time his mom gave him permission to play. By his sophomore year he was starting at right tackle.

"When I was a freshman, the varsity team was unbelievable and my sophomore year everybody left and pretty much our entire offense were all sophomores, a sophomore quarterback, three sophomore offensive linemen, two wide receivers so it was a very young team," Hashemi said.

Hashemi got to know some of the players up at UConn on the official visits and he got to see record-breaking Ansonia High running back Arkeel Newsome cap his high school career off with a third straight state title.

"He is unbelievable," Hashemi said. "The things that he did, breaking all the records, I had a chance to see him play in the state championship and the kid is nasty. He is unbelievable things and I am really looking forward to blocking for him one day and he is a great kid."

The commitment of Hashemi is a sign of how well the new staff is working together. When I spoke to Della Vecchia, he said he got a quick response from the new staff when he sent them tape of Hashemi. With running backs coach Ernest Jones opening up line of communication with Fairfield County, Lineburg recommending Hashemi after recruiting him at Richmond and both Wolthausen and Diaco getting on board, Hashemi is heading to Storrs.


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