It may take some time, but Stephen Barmore ‘s verbal commitment Sunday, June 23 to Yale University is likely to prove the first in a parade of college decisions this year for the Southington football team.
Barmore , a varsity quarterback since his freshman year who further amped his collegiate value with strong showings at regional showcases, has long been the highest profile Blue Knight. But fellow incoming seniors such as Zach Maxwell, Jarrid Grimmett, Tyler Hyde and Zach Jamele aren’t all that far behind.
Maxwell, the defensive end who was MVP of last year’s Apple Classic, has been joining Barmore of late at various college camps - Yale, Villanova, UConn.
Grimmett, the running back, has been getting looks. Hyde, a running back and defensive back, paid a recent visit to Assumption College. Jamele’s a standout linebacker, though he’s pretty good in lacrosse and could wind up playing that sport at the next level. Mike Lange, also a football-lacrosse guy, has committed to play the latter at Sacred Heart.
Add it up and it stands to be a crowded table outside the Southington athletic office on National Signing Day next February. The guys themselves foresaw this some years ago when they played together for the first time on a travel football team.
“It kind of started when we came together our eighthgrade year,” Barmore remarked Monday. “We took a look at who we had on the team and said, ‘We’re going to be good.’” Turns out that eighthgrade travel squad went undefeated in the regular season, just as the Blue Knights did last year, when Barmore and his mates were juniors. They now go into a senior season in which they’ll field challenges from opponents and overtures from recruiters.
Southington football coach Mike Drury is advising his seniors to slow down and take the time to find the right fit academically and athletically.
“You might not find out right away; 99 percent of the kids don’t,” said Drury, who played at Marist. “Be patient, really research the schools, get in contact with a lot of coaches and get as much exposure as possible.” Barmore provides a good template. He made multiple campus visits. He hit up the camps and the showcases. He also found the school that could accommodate his career aspirations in biotechnology and genomics. “The academics are fantastic, they’re phenomenal,” Barmore said of Yale. “I do have high (football) hopes, but I also want to be a little realistic. The NFL, there’s an extremely slim possibility of that happening. So my going to Yale sets me up for opportunities after college.” “Steve definitely takes his academics highly,” Drury noted. “He’s not just a football player. He’s an allaround student athlete. That weighed into his decision. Yale, for him, it just fit - the coaching staff, the college itself, the whole experience.” Yale is also close to home, which means Barmore ‘s family can easily attend his games, a big factor in his decision.
Head coach Tony Reno’s offense is also very similar to what Southington will be running this fall - spread, with a zone-read running game. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Barmore , a sprinter during track season, can run the ball as well as he can throw it.
“I’m going to fit very well into that offensive scheme, and the coaches have been awesome. I feel at home there,” Barmore said. “The reads are going to be the same, so it’s going to be a smooth transition.”
In going to Yale, Barmore becomes part of a program that is deepening its local roots. Sebastian Little, a sophomore slot receiver out of Cheshire, is there. So are running back Khalil Keys and tight ends Austin Carter and Adam Conklin, who put in post-grad years at Choate. And, several weeks ago, Meriden native Patrick Hatch joined the Yale staff as tight ends coach. Barmore knows Hatch pretty well. While Hatch was still an assistant coach at Stony Brook, he was trying to lure Barmore to the Long Island school.
Ultimately, Barmore went with Yale over the likes of Boston College, Iowa and Villanova. Princeton was also a late addition to the list of finalists.
“All great schools, all schools that were high on my list,” Barmore said. “But when I started doing hypotheticals - what if I went here? - I couldn’t see myself going anywhere else.”
Barmore is Southington ‘s first football commitment to Yale since one of his fabled quarterbacking predecessors, Matt Kelleher, headed to New Haven in 2006. Barmore grew up idolizing Kelleher. Now, with Kelleher an assistant coach with the Blue Knights, the two work together every day in practice. Kelleher went to Yale as a quarterback, but was ultimately converted to defensive end. He wasn’t the first or last player to change positions in college. Barmore certainly has the athleticism to be, say, a free safety, a posi- tion he’ll play on occasion this fall for the Blue Knights.
Yale, though, appears fully vested in Barmore at quarterback. When he gave his verbal commitment on Sunday, Barmore was told, “Now we know that we have a quarterback and a damn good one.” “I think in terms of what Steve can do and what’s he good at it, quarterback is a good spot for him at Yale,” Drury said. “If it came about that he got moved, he’s the type of kid who’d say, ‘Let’s do it.’ He’s got the skill set and attributes to play a lot of positions. But his passion, where he wants to compete, his goals, are at the quarterback position.”
“I’m just thankful I’ve got five more years to play,” Barmore said. “I definitely feel like I’ve picked a school that genuinely cares for me and genuinely will look out for my best interest. I feel secure with them.”