My Pitch by ALEX SPONSELLER SPORTS EDITOR

Onye commitment another step forward in RI recruitment

The Cranston Herald ·

Bishop Hendricken football player Jason Onye joined guys like Will Blackmon, Kwity Paye and Xavier Truss last week as he made his college decision official, committing to Notre Dame.

What a remarkable accomplishment for Onye, as well as Bishop Hendricken football, and Rhode Island football in general.

As we all know, Rhode Island is not exactly considered a hotbed for high school football. It’s not really considered a hotbed for any high school sport, really.

But as we also all know, there is plenty of talent coming from all over the state, and much of it is Division I material.

This will be the third big-time recruit coming from the Hendricken program to sign with a massive school in the past few years. Of course, the other two are Truss, who is now looking to carve out a role at Georgia, and Paye, who is tearing it up in Michigan and is regarded as a possible first or second round pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

Whether you are a Hendricken fan or not, this signing is a big one. Whether it is for the Hawks or other schools, all publicity is good publicity, and the more eyes on the Ocean State the better. For all around college recruitment, this is great for the state and may help boost the local appeal for college scouts.

As for the Hendricken program itself, it’s just another feather in the cap, another item for the mantle, and so on.

The Hendricken program, developed by head coach Keith Croft, has been rock-solid since his first season and the current run of success is unprecedented in the state. It is a steady, consistent program that demands the best of its players.

I know, I know, it’s cliche, but when you see the amount of success, private school or not, it is quite extraordinary.

That is why the Hawks have been churning out college players on an annual basis, and are now seeing more and more kids joining the Division I ranks.

I can’t wait to see what is in store for Onye. Notre Dame has never been afraid to get clever with its players, especially the younger ones, in terms of molding them into the players that they want. Notre Dame players are always pushed to be versatile, especially on the defensive side of the ball, so I’m sure they will try him out in a number of different roles. It’ll be interesting to see how he develops and how it all unfolds.

I’ve mentioned this before as well, but this is also another example of why we should all support our local high school sports.

You never know which local player may be the next big star, and by watching high school sports, you may have the opportunity to watch them free of charge, or for at least a much cheaper rate than the pros.

Embrace the local high school sports scene, catch a game here or there, even if you don’t have family competing. Guys like Jason Onye don’t come around very often, so when they do, take advantage of having them competing right in your backyard.

Next up, I had the chance to speak with two Cranston West football coaches, Anthony St. Laurent and Nick DeMarco, who were each recently sworn in as police officers. DeMarco joined Warwick Police while St. Laurent joined Johnston.

It was a cool story to do, especially since the two guys are from the same city and played high school ball together. Both are young guys just looking to serve their community, and it was inspiring to see. Their commitment was genuine, as were their intentions.

As a sports fan, I loved seeing it. Two football guys that cared about Rhode Island and were excited to serve on the frontlines, especially in these current conditions. Hats off to each of them, good luck, and stay safe.

Last up, on a national level, it appears that we may actually be seeing the early stages of the return of professional sports. The UFC held its first event in two months on Saturday, the NFL released its 2020 schedule, and many other leagues like the NBA, MLB, and NHL are reportedly working on return dates and conditions behind closed doors.

First off, let me be clear, I am not totally jumping for joy.

On the one hand, I am excited to see the push for these sports to return and am encouraged that these leagues and organizations have begun to plan. However, and here is my concern, I do believe it is imperative to make sure these leagues return under safe conditions.

That’s obvious of course, but my one fear is that things will be rushed.

I miss sports as much as anyone and am beyond excited for the day that we can tune in again. But the COVID-19 cases are still rising, so is the death toll. Even if we are through the peak, we are nowhere near the end. Am I saying that I agree with those who feel we should punt on the year 2020 and pick things back up in 2021? No, but I can’t see a way that we can safely cram 60,000 spectators in a stadium anytime soon, anytime in the next three or four months.

On the bright side, though. It is great to see these leagues itching to get back as we are and it is good to see the push for sports. I urge these organizations though to take it one step at a time, remain to be patient, and put safety above all else.

I was one of the millions of Americans to tune into the UFC card on Saturday. It was a great card and it was held with no fans. I actually didn’t mind it one bit and would be totally for other leagues doing the same … assuming the choices were that or no sports at all.

We’ll see though, I’m open to all options, as long as they are safe.

Have a great week everyone and stay safe.

This story was originally posted by The Cranston Herald. Click here to view the original story in its entirety.

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