John F. Silver
Everyone wants to know how good this class is, and anyone who tells you they know where UConn’s class stands is either a car salesman, or should be. Every year we have to give the caveat about the rankings and here is this year’s — The “stars” are actually a marketing gimmick. Any evaluation that is done strictly on stars is ridiculous.
What I look at in recruiting lists are not stars, but offers. Who else is hot after a player, and, how early?
In that sense players such as quarterback Tim Boyle, wide receiver Brian Lemelle and others are a different caliber than past classes. These players had many other opportunities at Top 25 caliber schools, and that they chose UConn is significant. That is a change from the past. Years ago, even with recruiting classes that had NFL players in it, the Huskies rarely beat out some of those teams they beat out this year for players. Offers and stars aren’t everything, but the Huskies’ classes over the years have tended to have some very good players, then a lot of non-factors. UConn’s problem has always been depth and of course explosive skill position players.
I think they rectified a lot of that in the last two classes, particularly this one.
This one in particular looks to have playmakers at wide receiver and tight end and some terrific offensive linemen prospects, which the program desperately needs.
The jewel of the class is of course Boyle, and the staff didn’t think twice about creating yesterday’s drama to get him. UConn wanted two quarterbacks and considering the QB history here should never turn down a quarterback. In Boyle’s case, the staff was there as a landing spot when things went south with Boyle and Boston College. I’ve seen highlights of Boyle and I have talked with people who have watched him and everything I hear is he’s a big-time thrower, big quarterback and can make every throw needed.
Recruiting a recruited player, especially Boyle, is always a delicate task. When Boyle started to look around, and this took weeks not days, the Huskies stayed in contact with him and his high school coach Sean Marinan (Marinan’s son is a walk-on at UConn).
Once Boyle was open to leaving BC — he wasn’t a fit in the offense — the Huskies pounced.
“ You keep a pulse, you don’t want to be annoying,” Paul Pasqualoni said of coming in late on Boyle. “You want to be professional about it. Fortunately, we have a good relationship with people at Xavier. In this case, we knew the circumstances around it and made ourselves available at all times. I thought (QB coach) Shane Day did an excellent job of being passionate about the position, and being here to talk to at the quarterback position. As it went, it became more apparent and he more comfortable and made a decision with his heart.”
It’s wild how it works sometimes. Frank Spaziani gets fired at Boston College, and that means a kid from Plano, Texas in Richard Lagow is unsure if he wants to go to Connecticut while a mystery quarterback out of Atlanta becomes a surprise signing.
What do the Huskies do with Richard Lagow? That’s a story that is still playing out as is mystery man Kivon Taylor, who is a terrific athlete and has a strong-arm as a quarterback according to reports. But, Pasqualoni said on Wednesday that when a player the caliber of Tim Boyle is available you take that player and figure out the rest after.
The Huskies did it here, a little bit of luck and circumstance, but looks like the staff really got their guy. The secondary is loaded at safety and I am not sure a big strong safety like that would even work unless he has freakish athleticism for his size. Pasqualoni was thrilled to get Taylor by all accounts and has lauded the work done by assistant Darell Perkins in Georgia. Perkins was on Taylor for a very long time and never lost contact and secured a visit on the final recruiting weekend.
As far as the other positions, Lemelle is a player that first an immediate need. Pasqualoni mentioned Lemelle on Wednesday and with the graduation of Nick Williams, the Huskies need a slot receiver. At 5-11, 170 pounds, Lemelle figures to be very much in the mix after recording over 1,500 yards receiving at Bishop McDevitt in Harrisburg, Pa.
Another point of emphasis was tight end, where the Huskies signed three in Tommy Myers, Jordan Fuchs and Quinn Thompson. Myers and Fuchs are basketball stars and that always seemed to translate well on the field. Myers figures to become a John Delahunt-like blocking every down tight end with an ability to get deep. Fuchs and Thompson are more of the pass-catching tight end type. In a pro-style offense the tight end is a staple. Huskies need two to play, there is time right there.
UConn also has had to revamp the offensive line, and added three more to the mix in Kyle Schafenacker out of St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale, Fal. Chaz Wright from Virginia and Tommy Hopkins from New York. Schafenacker was getting SEC interest late, but stayed with UConn. Pasqualoni remains high on last year’s recruits in guard Tyler Samra and tackle Richard Levy (redshirted, but players and coaches rave about him). UConn has struggled on the line the last two years and it came as recruiting stalled on the line. It takes time, but the staff feels it rectified it. Depth has always been the concern on the line. Staff wouldn’t even entertain going further than the Top 7 this season. A year before, only the top five played.
Defensively, the Huskies are loaded at the safety slot, but desperately need corners with size. That’s an area that they didn’t have much success bringing in Jhavon Haldey from Miami, who might play right away. I like all three LBs the Huskies brought in in Cory Jasudowich, Junior Joseph (Imagine if Jerome Junior was around still and also Jesse Joseph? Talk about confusing) and Chris Britton, I just don’t know where they are all going to play. UConn is losing Sio Moore and Jory Johnson, but they have a ton of talent at that position and just added to it.
Next year, Yawin Smallwood is back, Ryan Donahue itching for a key role and Graham Stewart is eligible to go along with highly regarded Marquis Vann and Jefferson Ashiru. It’s loaded.
Those are just some of the thoughts I came away with. I like the wide receivers and tight ends and UConn is going to have to get some starting linemen soon out of this class .
What stand out is the prototype size. Very few reaches and “filler” in the class, which should do well for depth purposes down the line.