New York state power Cazenovia is sure doing its part to help Penn State have a strong recruiting Class of 2016.
First, midfielder Cole Willard of the 2014 Class C state finalists and 2013 state champions verballed to Penn State back in September.
Then, earlier this month, the Nittany Lions secured a commitment from Cazenovia defenseman/longstick midfielder TJ Connellan, a decision reported by Joe Lombardi on LaxLessons.com’s Lacrosse Insider premium coverage section.
“I am very excited to continue playing with Cole,” Connellan said. “He is a great player. Cole and I are very good friends and we are always pushing each other to get better and this will help us even more now that we are going to college together.”
Connellan, who plays club for Orange Crush Lacrosse, made the upstate squad competed in the Under Armour All-America Lacrosse Classic at Towson University earlier this month.
The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Connellan is a righty with outstanding speed and stick skills who also plays football and basketball.
Now, here’s a Q&A with TJ on his commitment.
What were the main factors in your decision?
Three main factors helped me choose Penn State:
* Penn State is a great university for both academics and athletics. The opportunity to study and play at this school is a great opportunity I could not pass up.
* My family history with Penn State. Both my grandfather and my uncle played football at Penn state and I have been a fan since I was a young kid.
(Penn State Head) Coach (Jeff) Tambroni and the entire PSU coaching staff. After meeting with Coach Tambroni I was very impressed with him both as a coach and a person. Coach Tambroni I feel like he will move the PSU lax program to the next level and I really want to be a part of that success.
Can you discuss more about your longtime desire to play at Penn State and the connections with your family as well as Cole?
I have been dreaming about going to Penn State since I was a little kid. In addition to my grandfather and uncle both playing football there, my sister is a sophomore at PSU.
The family history at PSU was one of my major factors in picking PSU but it made my decision even better knowing that my friend Cole was going to be playing on the same team.
When Cole told me he was going to PSU it made my desire to play and attend my dream school even better. Ever since Cole committed to PSU, we have been saying how much we wanted to go to the same school and how much fun it would be to be teammates again. Our families are close and it will really make the college experience even better for everyone.
What other schools were you considering and what schools did you visit?
Syracuse University, Colgate, University of Richmond, Ohio State University and Fairfield University.
What are your strengths as a player and how would you describe your style of play?
My speed and stick skills are my major strengths and I believe they will help me succeed at the next level. I like to play fast and energetic and I am always trying to get the ball back for my offense.
What area of your game do you need to work on?
I need to get stronger and more physical.
How did you get introduced to lacrosse?
Our family friend was the youth lacrosse coach at Cazenovia. He talked to my parents and told them if I got a stick in my hands at a young age and put in the work it will pay off in the end.
What travel team do you play on?
I currently play on Orange Crush and (CNY) Road Hawks travel teams. I will also play on the Cold Brook team at the Annual Lake Placid Summit Tournament.
This year, I played in the Orange Crush College Showcase, the Jake Reed Nike Blue Chip Camp and the Under Armor games.
Any final thoughts?
I would like to thank my Parents for their support and assistance. My mom and dad have really helped me become a better player and showed me how commitment and hard work can pay off. We have traveled thousands of miles over the past few years attending camps, tournaments and college visits and they have been by my side the whole way.
I would like to thank ALL my coaches over the years but there are three coaches I need to single out:
Coach Greg Burns, he is my coach for Orange Crush. He has been a big help to me during the recruiting process He spoke to lots of coaches for me and really helping me get ahead in the game.
Coach Dave Falge, he is the assistant coach for the Cazenovia HS varsity team and a very good family friend. He helped me become a better and smarter player. He always gave me the confidence that I could play lacrosse at the next level.
Finally, I would like to thank Coach Brian Willard (Cole Willard’s father) my acrosse coach since third grade. He played a major part in my recruiting process. Brian gave me great advice years ago and directed me towards my positions at LSM and Defense. It turned out to be the right position for me. Coach Willard has always helped me get better; both on the field as a player and off the field, helping me become a better man.
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