Ryan Dickens, a 17-year old senior linebacker at Raritan High School in Hazlet, N.J., is the subject of a report from NJ.com, which details his experience of being played by UConn and the big business of college football. Cases like this come up every year, but Dickens is unique because the Huskies didn’t simply choose to renege on their scholarship offer, they did so less than a week after assuring him his scholarship was in good standing and two weeks before national signing day.
Dickens verbally committed to UConn last June. At the time, the Huskies were helmed by then-head coach Bob Diaco. Like his manufactured rivalries, Diaco failed to produce anything worth watching yet again in 2016 and was canned by the Huskies athletic department Dec. 26—a date several weeks too late for a 3-9 program to realize its coach sucked. The Huskies brought in Maryland’s Randy Edsall to right the ship, which in this case meant dicking over high school kids. Again.
According to NJ.com, UConn linebackers coach Jon Wholley met with Dickens as recently as last Thursday to discuss his upcoming campus visit, conveniently scheduled for this Friday, Jan. 20—Dickens’s 18th birthday. On Sunday night, Edsall called to tell him, per the report, “No, Ry, we just decided we’re going to go in another direction. We don’t have a spot for you.”
Both player commitments and scholarship offers are non-binding until the two parties sign a National Letter of Intent on or after signing day, Feb. 1, which Dickens and his family had planned on for the past seven months. By dropping him at the last minute, the Huskies effectively knee-capped Dickens’s entire recruitment process, as linebacker spots fill up quickly and the process requires time for meetings, film review, transcript review (just kidding), and campus visits.
Dickens was productive in his time at Raritan: he finished with more than 300 tackles in three years as a starter, was a member of the 2015 state title squad, rocked a 3.9 GPA, and helped out with various charities. Seven months ago, he had standing offers from Cornell and Monmouth and garnered interest from Northwestern, Rutgers, Temple, and Navy, per NJ.com’s initial report on his commitment.
Dickens turned down a late offer by Monmouth last week, according to Raritan coach Anthony Petruzzi; when contacted this week after UConn reneged, Monmouth said the spot was filled.
The silver lining here is that Dickens told NJ.com Rhode Island, an FCS school, reached out Tuesday morning to offer him a scholarship. Meanwhile, powerhouse UConn pushes forward for what analysts are saying looks like a promising three-win 2017 season.