Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Character, responsibility hallmarks of UConn recruiting class

There were times when I listened to Bob Diaco and his assistant coach run down the bios of the 22 players who made up the first complete recruiting class under Diaco's watch when I felt like I was being taken back to my days covering the Yale football team.

I was always intrigued by some of the stories of the Yale recruits and had similar feelings today. It caught my attention how many different assistant coaches bragged about the zero tardy rated of the UConn signees.

"Every case is different," Diaco said. "I've recruited guys who wake up, walk to a bus, take the bus to a subway, take a subway to a bus, take a bus to a bus stop and walk to school every day and that is not a made up story. It is a big difference there from a guy who lives five minutes from the school and he has 20 tardies or 10 tardies. If you get D in gym class, you are a jerk. I am not going to lie to you. It is simple, look at the transcript and you have a D in gym class, why do I have to change ...

"Things create a profile, you either believe it or don't believe it. Some coaches, they get enamored by chasing the talent for talent's sake. We are not going to operate that way, we are going to hold accountable and make sure we are collecting and recruiting RKGs (right kind of guys)."

There was a class president (cornerback Aaron Garland), a 3.8 GPA student (defensive lineman Kevin Murphy), son of a retired Navy Seal (tight end Chris Lee), player (linebacker William Richardson) who got fellow recruits to get up at 4 a.m. to get in a workout.
"I don't know how many games we are going to win, I think we are going to win a lot," Diaco said. "I don't know how many accolades these guys are going to collect but I anticipate a bunch but I guarantee that every single guy that we will pass off four or five years later better than we found them."

Diaco believes he brought in more than just good kids but talented players and ones with lots of length.

"When we had our weekend when our commitments on campus, most students mistook them for basketball recruits," Diaco said. "We are incredibly excited. When they went to watch the team workout, the team can't help but be energized 'OK, yes I can see what Coach is talking about four months ago.' This is going to be a great help to our mission. We are incredibly excited."

A season ago 10 true freshmen saw time for the Huskies. Diaco doesn't anticipate that being the case this season ago. He believes quarterback Tyler Davis has a chance because he is already enrolled in school and will be able to take part in spring drills. Also, he is one of just three scholarship quarterbacks in the program joining Tim Boyle (who was at the press conference) and transfer Bryant Shirreffs. Diaco also thought kicker Michael Tarbutt could push for time.

"When you are ready, we are ready," Diaco said. "The 2015 locker room without these players is going to be a hard group to beat (for playing time). These guys are ready to go, we have been training them, feeding them, caring for them and loving them for almost 13/14 months. I have to believe if you are doing that, it is going to be hard for a high school kid to come in and supplant one of these guys. If that happens, we are not going to turn away from it but I have no expectation that any one of these players is going to be able to come in and participate."

The class could have been 25 but just 22 were signed. Diaco didn't rule out adding to the class but he is also fine holding back the scholarships for next year.

'The 2016 class isn't a real big class, it is another class that is 15/16 so to go 17/18 is kind of nice or 17/18/19 instead of just filling up," Diaco said. "If a compelling player at a compelling position were to become available ..."


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