January 2, 2013

Wake's New England catch

Wake Forest does not often channel its recruiting efforts north of the Mason-Dixon Line, but the Demon Deacons could not pass on Cambridge (Mass.) Buckingham Browne & Nichols tight end Brendan O'Neil.

The 6-foot-5 and 225-pound New England product, who committed to Wake Thursday, June 14, was recruited by Steed Lobotzke.

"I visited them and I gave them my tape and then after a couple of visits he gave me the offer," O'Neil said. "When he came to my house I think that was awesome."

"I was already committed to them, so there was no pressure. He didn't have to shoot a pitch me, and I didn't have a worry that I needed to commit or not. It was really nice to get to meet him and hang out with him and he got to meet my family and just really kind of get a feel for what type of guy he is, which was awesome. He just confirmed what I already thought about him."

Al Paquette, who was an assistant to Tom Coughlin at Boston College, joined the Buckingham Browne & Nichols staff as the tight ends coach.

"He helped me correct some of my footwork," Paquette said. "I think footwork is definitely a big one that I improved a lot over this year. Even half a step can make a huge difference. That technique he showed made a difference."

"It was great to get a taste for what like a Division I coach like Coach Lobotzke might be similar to."

O'Neil, who is rated as a three-star recruit, the nation's No. 39 tight end and the No. 5 overall prospect in Massachusetts, added Lobotzke told him he will likely redshirt next fall. It will give him time to grow, develop, learn, get stronger and acclimated to college life.

"I think that redshirt year will be tremendously helpful to me, because just physically the point that he brought up was that the way that look at it is are you going to give your best year at 18 or you going to be a better player when you're 23 years old?," O'Neil said. "And just on a physical standpoint you're going to be a lot bigger, stronger [and] faster when you're 23 compared to when you're 18, so you'll have an extra edge further down the road."

"Coach Lobo said don't worry about coming down big. They can get you big no problem, but just come down fast, because the speed is a little tougher to improve than strength and size. He said if you come down fast you're going to be in great shape, because then they're going to be able to throw great weight on you."

He caught 24 passes for 394 yards and nine touchdowns to lead Buckingham Browne & Nichols to a 5-3 record and a third-place conference finish as a senior.

"It was a pretty good year for me personally and definitely a pretty good year for our team," O'Neil said. "Last year we graduated a lot of players. I think we graduated like eight guys on offense and seven guys on defense and four guys went Division I."

"We weren't projected to do anything. We were just projected to come in seventh out of the eight teams in the league. Overall we were pretty successful. Obviously our goal was to win the Super Bowl, but it was tough, because we only had 24 kids on our roster, on our team, in our program, so we called ourselves the 'Dirty Two-Dozen' and we did pretty well. We were tough."

O'Neil brings size and balance to the tight end position, as a good blocker and receiver.
"Further down the road it'll be better size, because I'll be on their program and I'll be able to get bigger," O'Neil said. "I think that could be a pretty good set of tools to have at the ACC level."

He will take his official visit to Wake Forest Jan. 16-18.

"That will be awesome," O'Neil said. "I can't wait to get down there and see some of the other recruits that I met before and get to meet all of the players that I'll be teammates with over the next four or five years. I think that will be awesome. I'll really get a feel for what type of people I'll be hanging out with."

Cameron Serigne will probably be his college roommate.

"It was actually kind of funny, because early in my junior year I was at a UConn junior day and I saw Cam," O'Neil said. "I didn't know him at the time. I didn't talk to him that day, but then later we were both doing a recruiting trip to Duke over spring break and just happened that me and him were like the only two kids there, so we started talking."

"A couple of months after that I was thinking about committing and I was doing some research and I saw that Cam Serigne committed to Wake too and then I committed to Wake. It was kind of weird, because we bumped into each other several times before."

O'Neil will enroll at Wake Forest for summer school and pre-season workouts in July.

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