First the newly minted UConn head coach head to keep the commitments that were already made, and then he decided to go out and get big people.
That's essentially what the Huskies small 14 person recruiting class looks like (not including LB Chris Britton and DM Jamar Summers, who are enrolled).
Diaco went and got four offensive linemen, three that he plucked in Trumbull's Steve Hashemi, two Florida products in Dan Oak and Ryan Crozier and one holdover in Trey Rutherford. The Huskies went big on the defensive line with 6-foot-5 265-pound Jason Atkins and were only interested in big players. That's where it starts, and that's where you can't go wrong.
Diaco wants big people. That's the simple recruiting secret.
"They all happen to be big guys," Diaco said wrapping up his signing day class. "When you recruit a big guy you have a better chance."
Big players can do multiple things. They can fill in on special teams, switch positions and won't be limited physically in their contributions. Get a big guy in and get him in a development program.
"I think it begins with, only a month, when you have a month, just in general, if you can get a big guy, a long leveraged guy, we are a developmental program....we know what we are going to be able to do with these pieces of clay," Diaco said. " When you have a big guy, much less chance to miss. You recruit a little guy, he might be a game-changing player. If he's not, he has little value. What are these little guys are on the team going to do. Hard to think of jobs they can't do that aren't dynamic."
Diaco held a 30-minute conference call in lieu of the regular signing day extravaganza due to the snow.
He talked about recruiting, several players that are coming and about what they want and don't want going forward.
Here are some thoughts:
- One thing I got from Diaco is that transcripts and ability to do well in school mean something. The Huskies aren't going to go after a marginal student even if they could qualify him for school. UConn isn't going to academically reach for a player. Diaco shut that down even if they think they can get that player through admissions.
"You still have to go to school at UConn, not every student has to launch a missile...but you got to be able to read and write well to compete in the classroom," Diaco said.
- The topic of academics came up UConn lost several recruits to academics including CT QB Logan Marchi, who was denied admission. Marchi found out last week and had his scholarship pulled. Diaco can't speak on Marchi in particular, but he made clear that academics matter.
"If someone is not going to be admitted into University, if a PSA (prospective student athlete), is not going to be admitted, he wont' be part of football team and is not a student of the school."There's been admission battles in the past with Randy Edsall and Paul Pasqualoni pushing players that were ultimately denied admission. Diaco, at least publicly, seems to be more in the admission offices favor.
- I asked Diaco about no QB and WR in this class. Diaco said he would like to take a QB in every class. Marchi's non-admission denied that and the Huskies weren't able to get another QB on the hook. As far as WR, it just isn't a need for the Huskies. For what Diaco is trying to do, the Huskies are + at wide receiver with 9 on the roster. The way Diaco is constructing the team, to go any more when there are other holes on the roster would start to unbalance the depth chart. The Huskies have three seniors at wide receiver and are well-stocked for the near term.
- Speaking of stocking up, the Huskies added four OL and three RBs. Diaco is excited about all three backs including Parade All-American Arkeel Newsome, two-time New England Prep Player of the Year Brice McAllister and Ron Johnson. Diaco compared RBs to a screw driver, one a flat ahead, another a phillips head and the other a nail and hammer. Johnson, at 6-0, 215-pound, is the hammer. The point was diversity. "I like that. We got three completely different tools in the tool box," Diaco said.
- As far as more players. Diaco intimated that UConn is done because they will have a numbers crunch next year and would like to stock up. But, as all coaches do, he reserves the right if something comes around to do it and get another player. I would say from his speaking that that's unlikely.
"I have nothing disparaging to say about recruiting services," Diaco said. " Some guys have a handle on evaluating payers, and some don't. Some just try to make a buck. Some if you engage the service your rating goes up. It has very little to do to your prowess on the field. If that's the case, that's prevalent, how are they credible anyways?"
There will be more later.
Here's the class with bios.
James Atkins | DL | 6’5 | 255 | Saugus, Mass./Blair Academy (N.J.)
Alec Bloom | TE | 6’6 | 235 | Ligonier, Pa./Ligonier Valley Senior High
Luke Carrezola | LB | 6’3 | 230 | Langhorne, Pa./Neshaminy
Ryan Crozier | OL | 6’4 | 297 | Plantation, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas
Vontae Diggs | LB | 6’4 | 215 | Downers Grove, Ill./Downers Grove North
Steve Hashemi | OL | 6’5 | 260 | Trumbull, Conn./St. Joseph
Ron Johnson | RB | 6’0 | 215 | Naples, Fla./Palmetto Ridge
Sheriden Lawley | DL | 6’4 | 252 | Abbotsford, British Columbia/Lawrenceville Prep (N.J.)
Brice McAllister | RB | 5’11 | 195 | East Longmeadow, Mass./Suffield (Conn.) Academy
Arkeel Newsome| RB | 5’7 | 170 | Ansonia, Conn./Ansonia
Daniel Oak | OL | 6’3 | 265 | Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers
Tom Rodrick | LB | 6’3 | 240 | Leicester, Mass./Leicester
Trey Rutherford | OL | 6’4 | 290 | King City, Ontario/Kent School (Conn.)
Anthony Watkins | CB | 6’1 | 190 | Fort Meade, Md./Fort Meade/Lawrenceville Prep (N.J.)