Although yesterday was National Signing Day for NCAA football, Ivy League-recruited athletes do not sign a National Letter of Intent. Despite the absence of letters, the list of football players headed to Yale next fall is nearly complete.
Yale football’s class of 2019 will come from all over the United States, hailing from states such as Ohio, Texas and California.
This year’s large recruiting class — which consists of 30 players according to a list compiled by the New Haven Register — includes at least three players listed as three-star recruits on www.247sports.com, and several players who had offers from multiple Ivy League and Football Bowl Subdivision schools. Harvard, on the other hand, has four three-star commits listed on the website, although 247sports has only about a third of each recruiting class listed.
“I was incredibly impressed with everything [at Yale],” offensive line recruit Rees LeMay said. “[Yale has] incredible people that I want to be associated with. Football is on an upswing, and we have a chance to win a few championships in the next four years. It was an easy decision.”
Because Ivy League schools do not offer athletic scholarships, recruited athletes do not make any official commitment before enrolling at the school in the fall. Still, in order to participate in National Signing Day, many players who had verbally committed to Yale made an event out of signing other forms that Yale requires athletes to fill out.
Among the three-star recruits were defensive tackle recruit Daniel James, who recently turned down a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt, and wide receiver Abu Daramy, who verbally committed to Yale last Saturday after receiving offers from nine FBS teams.
James hails from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and it was not until last Wednesday when he was officially extended a scholarship from the Commodores.
“I decided to stick with Yale because of the relationship I built with Coach [Tony] Reno and my recruiting coach, and because of the family atmosphere,” James said. “On my visit, I went around asking people if they really loved the football team. They had no idea I was a recruit, and I got the same answer, which was a resounding yes.”
Daramy, meanwhile, will join at least three other committed freshmen who are listed as wide receivers, as well as incoming sophomore Bo Hines, who announced in December his decision to transfer to Yale from North Carolina State.
Dual-threat quarterback Tre Moore III, another three-star recruit, committed to the Elis last June shortly after attending a Yale summer camp. At that point, he had interest from Syracuse and Notre Dame, according to 247sports.
Running back and defensive back James Nicholas was recruited to Yale not just for football, but for every sport that he played in high school. Nicholas will play both football and golf at Yale, choosing not to play hockey because conflicting seasons would have required that hockey be his only sport.
Nicholas, who is a friend of Yale golf player Will Bernstein ’18 through a common coach, said the Yale golf team was the first to recruit him, alongside many golf powerhouses in the ACC and Big 10. In addition to Yale hockey, Nicholas received interest from Boston College, Boston University and Harvard, he said.
“I want football to be my first sport and if I can make it work, then play golf,” Nicholas said. “[Head coach Tony Reno] was hesitant to let me play golf, but he was 100 percent committed to letting me play if it all worked out. It turns out that there’s no conflict at all … it’ll be a lot of work, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Many members of the recruiting class cited strong coaching, academic opportunity and a close community for reasons that they chose Yale.
Ian Baker, an incoming defensive end from Ohio who also had interest from Harvard, said he identified Yale as his dream school as early as middle school when he spoke to a few alumni near his hometown. His on-campus visits last summer and this year only affirmed this view.
“You could tell that [the coaches] cared about you as a student, as a person, as well as a football player,” Baker said. “They wanted you to come to Yale because of how much you can do outside of football, as well. They painted it as a family atmosphere.”
Both Baker and LeMay noted that offensive coordinator Joe Conlin, who guided the most prolific offense in the Ivy League this season, was a major influence on their decision to choose Yale.
Baker verbally committed to Yale last summer, and he noted that since his signing, many of his fellow recruits have begun to bond together via official visits and social media.
“Over my official visit, I got to meet a couple commits [at Yale],” Baker said. “We had a great time, and we’re bonding well already. As of now, just talking, we’re already starting to come together.”
Baker’s high school teammate Peter Firestone, a 6’6” defensive end who had offers from the University of Connecticut and Army, added that the recruits have a group chat and a Facebook group to help to get to know one another.
According to NCAA regulations, Yale coaches are not allowed to comment on specific recruits. Because Yale does not offer athletic scholarships, the team will not release its recruiting class until after the college decision deadline on May 1.