Rocco’s third recruiting class lands solid talent for Hens

Danny Rocco is 14-9 with one playoff appearance in his first two seasons as Delaware’s head coach. Delaware sports information/Mark Campbell

NEWARK — When a new college football head coach first gets hired, there’s a certain reality to the situation.

At the first team meeting, those players were all signed by a different coaching staff.

“Even though you’re the head coach and it’s supposed to be your team, really there’s no connection with the student-athletes in the room,” said Delaware coach Danny Rocco. “It’s really their team.”

Gradually, that all changes, though.

And by the time a coach gets to his third recruiting class, like the one that Rocco announced on Wednesday morning, there’s more of a feeling of everyone in the program being on the same page.

Of the 13 high school seniors that the Blue Hens signed, Rocco said seven were in Delaware’s recruiting camp this summer. He said most of the 13 recruits and their families have been on campus multiple times since last spring.

“Here’s another wave of guys that have come into a university — into a program — because they like the message that’s being offered by the (current) staff,” said Rocco. “I see that as being a bigger, more valuable component for me moving forward. We’ve established ourselves here at Delaware.”

Rocco said it doesn’t hurt that the Hens have had some success in his first two seasons, either. This past fall, Delaware made the NCAA FCS Division I playoffs for the first time since 2010.

The university also broke ground on a new athletics building and renovations to Delaware Stadium on Tuesday.

Wednesday’s recruiting class included seven players from Pennsylvania as well as ones from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey and Connecticut. Dover High offensive lineman Bradly Anyanwu was the lone in-state signee.

Rocco said it was the first time he can remember not having to get on a plane to recruit.

Only four of the recruits are defensive players with eight on offense and one kicker.

Defensive lineman Akie Nance, from Newark, N.J., may have been the highest-level recruit in the class. The 6-foot-3, 275-pounder had interest from Temple, Rutgers and Syracuse among others.

“You watch his film, you meet him, you meet his family and you may start saying, ‘I wonder why there aren’t more BCS or FBS (schools recruiting him),” said Rocco. “There were some. But he’s got the size, he’s got the body, he’s got the film, he’s got the background, he’s got the character — he’s got all those things that are coveted by those FBS BCS programs in this mid-Atlantic region.”

Rocco is also excited about the one quarterback in the class, Cade Pribula from Central York, Pa. High.

Pribula put up big numbers in high school, breaking conference records with 65 touchdown passes and 6,782 passing yards. He threw for 31 TDs in his senior year alone and also ran for over 1,000 yards and 17 touchdowns in his career.

Probably the only thing keeping Pribula from being more sought-after is that he stands only 6-foot-1, 200 pounds. He was also recruited by Albany, Buffalo and Sacred Heart.

Rocco said of the five or six QBs that the Hens brought into camp last summer, Pribula was clearly the best.

“In my mind it was a slam dunk,” said Rocco. “He was the most complete. … I think this is a special young man and a great ‘get’ for us.”

Along with the recruiting camp, Delaware mainly signed Pribula based on his junior-season video. But Rocco said Pribula’s senior-season tape was “extraordinary.”

“He was really impressive,” said Rocco. “I think he has a chance to have a really bright future here with us.”

Extra points

Rocco said he’s close to hiring a new offensive coordinator — perhaps even by the end of the week. “We’ve had an extraordinary amount of interest,” he said. “We’ve interviewed a number of quality candidates. I’m excited about the options we have in play right now.” … Running back signee Quincy Watson, from Malvern Prep, is the son of former Delaware linebacker Rowan Watson (1988-91). … Rocco said he still has four to six scholarships remaining.

Delaware recruits

OL-Bradly Anyanwu (Dover), 6-3, 300: Twice earned first-team All-State accolades as well as being an All-Henlopen North Conference selection. … He also won Division I shot put state title. … Was an honor student throughout his school career, carrying a near 3.5 GPA. … He received interest from Delaware State, Georgetown and Morgan State.

TE-Will Bowen (Lower Dauphin, Pa.), 6-6, 230: Twice earned all-conference accolades at both tight end and defensive end. During his junior year, he also earned All-State honors at defensive end. … Was a four-year starter in basketball team, scoring over 1,000 points during his career and earning three all-conference honors. . … An honor roll student all four years, Bowen also received interest from Maine, Monmouth, Albany, Buffalo, Bucknell, Army, Kent State, Fordham and Colgate.

WR-Ayinde Budd (Collegiate, Va.), 6-5, 205: A two-time All-State performer and three-time All-Conference honoree. … Was a four year starter for Collegiate. He also received interest from Boston College, Buffalo, Delaware State, Elon, JMU, Richmond, Virginia and Wake Forest.

K-Ryan Coe (South Fayette, Pa.), 6-3, 220: Coe hit a career-long 51-yard field goal in high school, where he earned two all-conference accolades as well as All-Western PA first-team honors as a senior. … He was ranked as the top punter in Pa. and the second-ranked kicker in the state. … An honor roll student at South Fayette, he received interest from Akron, Duquesne, Temple, Ole Miss and UCF.

DL-Nick Coomer (Warwick, Pa.), 6-4, 285: Helped his team to the second round of the state playoffs, while piling up 225 tackles during his career, including 15.5 sacks. … He was a three-time All-League honoree and named the league’s Defensive Lineman of the Year as a senior. … He also received interest from Boston College, Elon, Monmouth and New Hampshire.

DB-Mekai Davis (DeMatha, Md.), 6-0, 180: A two-time all-conference honoree, Davis was a integral part of the DeMatha defense for the past three seasons as a starter. … He also received interest from Rhode Island and Sacred Heart, among others.

TE-Levaughn Lewis (King School, Conn.), 6-3, 215: He twice earned All-New England accolades and was the team’s leading receiver during his senior season. … A high honor roll student, he received interest from Cornell, Stony Brook and Syracuse among others.

LB-Chase McGowan (North Stafford, Va.), 6-1, 230: Earning first-team All-Region and first-team All-District honors during both his junior and senior seasons. … As a senior, he piled up over 75 tackles, 23 sacks, 15 TFLs and seven forced fumbles en route to first-team All-State accolades. … Received interest from Saint Francis, Lehigh, Richmond, Army, New Hampshire and Morgan State.

DL-Akie Nance (Newark Collegiate Academy, N.J.), 6-3, 275: He twice earned first-team all-conference and all-county on the defensive side of the ball, while racking up over 50 tackles and seven sacks during his senior year. . … A cum laude student he received interest from Temple, Rutgers, Monmouth, Syracuse, Stony Brook, Cornell and Richmond.

QB-Cade Pribula (Central York, Pa.), 6-1, 200: Set league records for most passing TDs (65) and yards (6,782) in a career. … He was a three-time all-league honoree and threw for 2,866 yards and 31 TDs as a senior. He also rushed for over 1,000 yards and 17 TDs during his career. … Pribula also started three years in basketball. … He earned Distinguised Honor Roll every semester of his high school career and received interest from Albany, Buffalo and Sacred Heart.

TE/FB-Mateo Vandamia (West Allegheny, Pa.), 6-2, 225: Vandamia helped his West Allegheny team to the WPIAL Class 5A state finals during his senior season. … Offensively, he had 28 catches for 355 yards and five TDs to earn a spot on the Trib 25 All Star list. … He led the team in both receptions and tackles (95). … In his three years as a starter, he caught nearly 100 passes for 1,358 yards and 14 TDs.

RB-Quincy Watson (Malvern Prep, Pa.), 5-9, 180: Helped his team to three straight Inter-Ac league titles, while piling up nearly 1,000 all-purpose yards in both his junior and senior seasons. … He received interest from Brown, Bucknell, Colgate, Darmouth, Lafayette, Lehigh, Holy Cross, Rhode Island, Robert Morris and Sacred Heart.

OL-Owen Zechman (East Juniata, Pa.), 6-4, 275: Earned all-conference and All Tri-Valley accolades for his play on the defensive side of the ball and as a tight end.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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