NEW BRITAIN - Ryan McCarthyâ€™s second February Signing Day was a lot different from his first one as Central Connecticut Stateâ€™s head football coach.
At this time last year, the Blue Devilsâ€™ staff was just trying to get resettled and collect its bearings.
A little more than two weeks before National Signing Day, then-head coach Pete Rossomando opted to leave for Rutgers, meaning McCarthy and the rest of the coaches needed to get in touch with the recruits, let them know the majority of the staff would be staying intact and to try to shore up the final commitments. During McCarthyâ€™s first National Signing Day leading a program, CCSU landed 12 recruits that day.
This time around, McCarthy, who was named the interim coach following Rossomandoâ€™s departure and the full-time head coach on Oct. 16, didnâ€™t have to worry about any twists and turns that didnâ€™t revolve around the players. Instead, Wednesday, college footballâ€™s second signing day, was about being optimistic for the future of the football team.
â€śIt was a lot different,â€ť McCarthy said. â€śNow, Iâ€™ve had a chance to go through that and an early signing period leading the program and I like the players we brought in. I think we filled a lot of needs and I think the coaches did a great job of identifying the kids who believe in what weâ€™re doing here.â€ť
In all, the Blue Devils signed 17 recruits on Wednesday - eight offensive players, eight defensive and one special teams - eight of whom are Connecticut natives.
Isaiah Williams (WR, Northwest HS (MD)), Mike Plaskon (WR, Bridgton Academy (CT)), Trevor Santiago (OL, Maloney HS (CT)), Alec Ambrosia (OL, Shepherd Hill (MA)), Devon Meza (OL, Notre Dame HS (NJ)), Gabe Hernandez (OL, Conard HS (CT)), Isaiah Deloatch (OL, Shelton HS (CT)) and Rayshoon Jacobs (WR, Jonathan Law HS (CT)) highlight the offensive additions.
DaSean Roberts (LB, St. Francis HS (MD)), David Agustus (DL, Capital Prep HS (CT)), Toddreis Baltimore (Quince Orchard HS (MD)), Ethan Haberman (DL, Daniel Hand HS (CT)), Harold Miles (LB, Good Counsel HS (MD)), Narrain Yearwood (DB, Christ The King HS (NY)), Paul Yiadom (OLB, Lawrence Academy (MA)) and Justice Calloway (DB, Irvington HS (NJ)) were the defensive signees.
Tolland Highâ€™s Adian Clark (K/P) was the special teams addition.
â€śThe offensive and defensive lines were areas we really wanted to focus on,â€ť McCarthy said. â€śWe had some guys who left and needed to fill some holes and we really look at some important things. No. 1 is strength of character. I want to make sure he is the right kind of kid for us and our program. Obviously, he has to be a good football player, otherwise we wouldnâ€™t recruit them. But if he has red flags, I donâ€™t want that. Football has to be important to him. We want to recruit multi-sport athletes. Is he a captain? Is he a leader? How does interact with people. The film will tell you the true story of how he plays, but you want to have a face-to-face interaction.â€ť
The 17 signees will join defensive back Jon Cabral-Martin, tight end Jake Skinner and quarterback C.J. Duell who all committed and signed with CCSU during the first National Signing Day in December.
The Blue Devils have had a recent string of success over the past three seasons. CCSU is coming off the programâ€™s second Northeast Conference championship and NCAA Tournament berth in three years before finishing up the season 11-2. The question is if that has helped on the recruiting circuit.
â€śI donâ€™t know if it has,â€ť McCarthy said. â€śIt goes back to the same philosophy of you are who you are. Weâ€™re not going to beat New Hampshire on a kid or Maine or some of the other CAA schools. If there are academic schools looking at him like in the Patriot League or Ivy League, thatâ€™s tough for us too. We try to keep a radius of five, five and a half hours from campus and this year, we have a good diversity of guys in terms of where theyâ€™re from.â€ť
The big question heading into the new season will once again who will be the Blue Devilsâ€™ starting quarterback with the departure of Aaron Whichester, the NECâ€™s Offensive Player of the Year and Walter Payton Award Finalist. CCSU currently has three quarterbacks on the roster in redshirt sophomores Romelo Williams and Kyle Zajack and true sophomore Alex Hawkom, in addition to Duell.
â€śWeâ€™re still going to look at all our options and do what is going to help our program,â€ť McCarthy said. â€śWe have some young kids in our program and another one coming in. Iâ€™m not opposed to adding an older player, like we did with Aaron last season. But it has to be the right fit. Iâ€™m not going to add a guy just to add someone.â€ť
But overall, the head coach was plenty pleased the recruits CCSU was able to sign.
â€śOur coaches did a great job of recurring kids who are going to help our program.â€ť
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or email@example.com