NEW BRITAIN - Having been through three recruiting classes already, Central Connecticut State football coach Pete Rossomando knew the positions he wanted to focus on and bring in to boost the areas that were lacking.
In the end, the head coach and his staff landed and signed 17 new players - seven of which are from Connecticut - that will come into the fold for training camp in August.
“It went really, really well,” Rossomando said of the recruiting process. “You don’t know what you have until you get them on the field, but we feel really good about the guys we brought in and feel they fit in nicely with the program.
“We worked really, really hard on recruiting the guys in the State of Connecticut. We always take care of Connecticut first and recruit there and then expand out into our fringe areas. We did that when I was at New Haven and here as well. We want to have the best kids from Connecticut come to our program.”
With winning the state of Connecticut such a high priority, Rossomando said it’s all about being honest with a recruit when meeting.
“You’ve got to be honest and be who you are,” the head coach said. “You can’t promise them something different when they get to campus. We just make sure we’re upfront with them. In football or any other profession, it’s all about relationships and building that trust.
“It’s not about dinners or taking them to the nice parts of campus. Every school does that. We’re trying to sell them that we play in a conference kids want to play in and things like that.”
While last season was about bringing in a class that would compete for jobs, this class was more about providing some much-needed depth with the offensive line being a priority. CCSU brought in four this year - Neil Tompkins, a New York native; Craig Wood from Maryland; Boston native Brandon Scott; and Mike McHigh, a native of New Jersey - that have the ability to be versatile along the line.
“All four are very athletic and they’re very smart,” Rossomando said. “They have to ability to play at the guard or the tackle position and even some center.”
Other areas targeted by the coaching staff included the defensive front seven. Most of last year’s defense is set to return, with the exception being the outside linebacker spots, and those were addressed quickly as Central added outside backers Foday Jalloh and Dequan Williams, while signing inside linebackers Daequan Nicholson and Richard Jernigan.
Perhaps the highlight of the class is defensive lineman Bryon Dickens, a two-time all-state selection from West Haven High and one of four along the defensive front set join the Blue Devils.
“He’s a guy we really wanted for a long time,” Rossomando said of Dickens. “He’s one of the top players in Connecticut. We were expecting to have to compete against five or six schools for him, but there wasn’t really the onslaught I expected. He’s a guy that should be playing a level higher.”
Back on the offensive side, the only skill positions brought in were tight end Theo Zidor of Everett, Mass., and running back Keonte Lucas of Hershey, Penn. But every starter on the offensive side of the ball that started the final game of last season is retuning and only one receiver graduated, leaving plenty of talent.
And even with the development of quarterback Jacob Dolegala, the Blue Devils brought in two more quarterbacks with a bit of local flair in Manchester High School signal caller Edison Galan and Middletown High School’s Tyshaun James.
“Both quarterbacks were really 1 and 1A on the board. Both are dynamic, both are game changers. Edison is more of a passer that can make plays with his arm. Tyshaun is more of the runner of the two, but also has a very good arm.”
With National Signing Day now over, CCSU turns to offseason workout, spring practice, training camp and then finally the season opener at Syracuse. While some might view it as a lost cause, Rossomando not only views it as a measuring stick, but as a recruiting tool.
“Part of the growth of the program is to have one of these stretch games as I call them. We have our guys recruited that feel as though they’ve been slighted by not being recruited by those bigger schools. They want to play well. We want to measure ourselves against teams like this. I’m excited.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach