The football team finally got on the 2012 recruiting scoreboard this week, landing Don Bosco Prep's Tyler Samra, a 6-3, 270-pound offensive lineman. We wrote last week that coach Paul Pasqualoni and his staff had been shutout in 2012, the only team in the Big East other than Pittsburgh with no commitments on the books.
It may sound like a long way off, but when other schools in the conference have landed as many as seven recruits, it's never too early to beat the bushes for players. But Pasqualoni has been around both as a head coach at a big-time football program, in the NFL and back again; he understands the recruiting ebbs and flows. You're not going to land every player you recruit but either way, there's always more work to do.
For casual fans, landing Samra may not seem particularly noteworthy, but for the Huskies staff, it's a possible sign of things to come. Samra plays in New Jersey which, as the Hartford Courant's Desmond Connor notes, is "one of those hotbeds like Ohio, Pennsylvania, California and Texas where the exceptionally-football talented roam aplenty."
"If the UConn program wants to improve, it's going to have make trips to the Garden State -- make them often and not come away empty for players," Connor writes. "… Pasqualoni and all his ties comes in, puts his longtime friend, (UConn offensive coordinator) George DeLeone - and all his ties - on New Jersey and ...well, you have Tyler Samra from Don Bosco Prep. Receivers coach Matt Cersosimo and linebackers coach Jon Wholley recruit areas of the state, too.
"Little doubt here that DeLeone, the same guy who came in and snatched the successful Joseph twins out of Hartford when he was at Temple, will help make the efforts down that way more successful."
So, yes, the Huskies are late to the 2012 recruiting game but it's not from lack of effort. From the sound of it, the staff has been busily laying groundwork in areas UConn didn't typically recruit.
Clearly, this is just the beginning, although fans might like to see a little more in the way of results, especially as other Big East programs land players. But this could be the case of a lot of hard work early paying off in the long run. The key is patience, something fans and university administrators can sometimes be short on.