Thursday, January 17, 2008


The Connecticut Huskies are becoming a de facto home school for Ottawa sports fans.

This week's feature for the Sun is on tight end John Delahunt, who's accepted a scholarship to UConn to play football next season after three seasons of junior ball with the Ottawa Sooners. The focus had to be on Delahunt, of course, but the real driver behind him getting his chance at the Storrs, Conn., school is Bino Cesario, his offensive co-ordinator with the Sooners.

There wasn't enough space in the paper to do it justice, but Cesario had a highlight reel made of Delahunt to send to NCAA schools. He also tweaked his offence, putting in a lot of formations with the big man as a tight end or H-back.

Cesario, who was an all-Canadian receiver at St. FX once upon a time (he has the second-highest single-season yardage total in X-Men history), didn't equivocate one bit about the story. He came right out and said Delahunt playing at UConn might be the biggest thing for an Ottawa player going to the NCAA since Jesse Palmer went to Florida in the late '90s.

That might seem like an embellishment. The first point of reference with UConn is basketball (what with the Final Four appearances and alumni such as Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Emeka Okafor, Shea Ralph and Diane Taurasi). On the phone the other night, a fellow sports journalist friend said he didn't even know UConn had a football team.

The Huskies have only been Division 1-A in football since 2000. However, they were ranked as high as 16th last season, beat some pretty solid teams in Louisville and Rutgers and went 9-4. Before this season, UConn also recruited its first Parade All-American, linebacker Jarrell Miller, so yes, they are going places.

Delahunt, who plans to start school next week, is going to be part of that. It's all in his hands, which is not a bad situation for a tight end to have. Between him and the UConn women's hockey team, which will have at least four Ottawa-area players next season, there's some kids from here to follow in the future.

UConn calls; A.Y. Jackson rises to the defence; Young at Heart (Nate Seager, Sun Media)

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