Friday, September 04, 2015

"Sky is limit" for latest UConn football commit

UConn struck recruiting pay dirt when landing a commitment from Matt Peart, a two-way lineman out of Massachusetts a season ago as Peart was working with the second team offensive line within a week of the start of preseason camp. Could lightning strike twice?

Well, the Huskies went back to Massachusetts to secure its first line recruit in the Class of 2016 as the Pingree School's Nino Leone from Middletown, Mass. committed to the Huskies last night.

I got in touch with Pingree School football coach Chris Powers, who led the Highlanders to New England titles in 2009 and 2010, to get a scouting report on the seventh commitment in next year's class.

"He is a big, huge kid and he has terrific feet, runs real well for a big kid," Powers said. "I tell everybody to fully understand what kind of talent he is, you need to see him play basketball because he is a real solid basketball player."

Leone, who is 6-foot-5, 340 pounds according to Powers, was one of the captains of Pingree's basketball team as a junior.

On the football field Leone has been a four-year starter at offensive tackle (the position he projects to play in college) and has been a starter at defensive tackle since midway through his freshman season.

"I tell everybody that off the field he is one of the nicest kids but when he steps on the field, he is competitive, very aggressive," Powers said. "He plays between the whistles.

"He is a throwback, he is very polite, he opens the door for women and just things that I think are very important. He's from a big, Italian family, his family is very important to him."

Powers said the Leone had to carry around his birth certificate when he played youth football because there were those who doubted that he was at the proper age to play.

"He has put a lot of time into it, changing that big size into good technique because once he got to us he wasn't the biggest guy on the field all the time and was going up against guys his own size," Powers said. "He really refined technique and worked more on effort. He really understood how much technique and skill went into a football player.

"If you took a lot of him, a lot of the coaches, scouts said to us that you would never know he weighs as much as he weighs because he does carry it so well but he is a big, huge kid."

Powers is anxious to see how Leone progresses at the college level.

"I think he feels like the sky is in the limit." Powers said. "I think as he continues to mature, refine his (technique), who knows what the future could hold for him, he could be one hell of a player."

Powers said UConn has been involved with Leone for a while and their persistence combined with the way they recruited him makes him feel like Leone has found the right school and program.

"I think they were terrific," Powers said. "They were very friendly, put a lot of time into things up at the school. I really enjoyed working with the coaching staff."

Pingree begins its season a week from today with a game at St. George's School. There will be three games against Connecticut opponents including a Sept. 19 game at Hamden Hall.


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