Quarterback stands out among Hens’ new recruits

NEWARK — Deven Bollinger has put up passing numbers that would make any quarterback proud.

Of course, Delaware football coach Danny Rocco likes them, too.

But one of Bollinger’s games that stood out the most to Rocco was the one in which the 6-foot-5, 212-pound high school player had to go in as a defensive back — and finished with a dozen tackles.

Deven Bollinger

“He was in my office with his family and I said, ‘The most impressive thing that I saw you do was have like 12 tackles in a game — maybe more than that,’” Rocco recalled on Wednesday. “I said, ‘Tell me about that.’ … He ends up making double-digit tackles and still threw for four touchdown passes.”

So Rocco said there’s a lot more to Bollinger than just being a big kid that can throw the ball.

The Blue Hens are excited about the potential of the senior from Northwestern Lehigh, Pa., just as they are for the other 10 high school players they signed on Wednesday to national letters of intent.

The one in-state signee is Smyrna High linebacker Debo Williams, the state Defensive Player of the Year, who will join former Eagles standouts Nolan Henderson and Will Knight with the Hens.

Considering Henderson is the Hens’ returning starter at QB and still has two seasons of eligibility remaining, it might be a while until Bollinger gets on the field for real at Delaware. But his high school stats are impressive.

At Northwestern Lehigh, Bollinger threw for 7,324 yards and 90 touchdowns and — despite his size — also ran for over 22 TDs and 2,000 yards. He also attended a UD recruiting camp.

“He’s really an exciting kid,” said Rocco. “He is a very intelligent, big bodied, athletic, talented football player. He’s a dynamic leader. He’s very mature.

“I see a lot of upside with him. (Offensive coordinator) Jared (Ambrose) went up and saw him play in person. He just kind of resonates with leadership and confidence. There’s a lot of upside with that body. This is a big kid who can throw and run. He’s got a lot to learn, he’s got to grow and mature. But he’s got all the things you’re looking for and he’s certainly got all the intangibles.”

Rocco would like to think any of the 11 recruits are capable of playing right away. But given that the Hens return much of their roster from this fall’s 5-7 squad, they might not have to get on the field as true freshmen.

What Rocco likes is that a couple of the recruits announced on Wednesday already have older brothers at Delaware.

Fintan Brose, a 6-foot-2, 290-pound defensive lineman from Hempfield, Pa. High, is the younger brother of backup Blue Hen tight end Braden Brose.

Fintan reportedly had 25 scholarship offers from Division I college programs. Rocco remembers the youngster when he was recruiting his older brother.

Likewise, linebacker Dillon Trainer from Philadelphia’s LaSalle High is the younger brother of current UD linebacker Liam Trainer. The fact that their dad, Joe, is the former head coach at Rhode Island doesn’t hurt, either.

“I think the thing that kind of excites be there are the ‘second-time buyers,’” said Rocco. “When you see that with a family, it really is powerful. It’s an endorsement.”

Among the skill players the Hens are bringing in is running back Marcus Yarns from Salisbury, Md.’s Parkside High. The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder may have fallen through the cracks somewhat after missing much of his senior season with a non-surgical knee injury.

But Yarns returned to play by the end of his senior year and finished with over 2,500 yards and 21 touchdowns in his career.

“His film is special,” said Rocco. “His film is dynamic. This is a game-breaker kind of ball carrier. He’s the kind of guy that can take the ball the distance. He’s very natural, very fluid.

“He may be a little bit of a hidden-gem kind of guy. He had offers but I felt like there was a trust relationship that was developed and built with our staff. Sometimes those things are most important.”

Extra points

Right now, Delaware still has two or three scholarships to give out. In looking at transfers, Rocco said his top priorities are offensive tackle, pass rusher and cornerback. … Rocco said it’s “unlikely” that linebacker Sal Mauro will return for his final year of eligibility next fall but that they’re continuing to talk.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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