STORRS - A scene involving someone with any other name would probably have been just as sweet.
As it was, UConn tight end Jay Rose nearly made his head coach tear up anyway.
UConn football coach Randy Edsall was describing Thursday a pair of scenes, one of which he witnessed a bit accidentally and perhaps Shakespeareanly, that took place a few weeks ago.
Edsall had just finished a meeting with Rose, the former state player of the year who abruptly left the UConn program one year ago during training camp under then-coach Bob Diaco and at that point seemed to be finished with football. Rose called Edsall when the latter was named the Huskies’ new coach and asked for a spot on the team again.
Edsall agreed, but only under certain conditions, the first being that Rose begin his tenure as a non-scholarship player.
After Rose spent a few months with the Huskies in the offseason, Edsall liked what he had seen and heard from the former Southington High star and decided to reward him by putting him back on scholarship.
Rose was appropriately thankful and excited upon hearing the news in a meeting that took place in Edsall’s office, but it was what happened immediately following the chat that had the coach choked up.
“I’m looking out. My office faces out toward Jim Calhoun Way and up towards the practice fields,” Edsall said Thursday, recalling the moments after Rose walked out of his office.
“I see Jay coming out from underneath by the weight room in the Shenkman facility and starting to go up the steps,” Edsall said. “He walks across the road, up the little path like he’s going in the parking lot. And he had the financial aid agreement, a copy of it. He takes that financial aid agreement and gives it a kiss. He’s like this (makes arm motion), pumping his fist.”
Rose had no idea he was being watched.
In fact, he didn’t know until Thursday that Edsall had seen him celebrate.
“I was just walking back to my car,” Rose said Thursday with a laugh.
Rose admitted that he was thrilled when Edsall delivered the news, however.
“I knew when I came back that I had to earn everything I was going to get,” Rose said. “I can’t say I expected it to come as soon as it did, but when it did it was an unreal feeling.”
The jubilation Rose showed on his short walk to D-Lot on the edge of the UConn campus solidified Edsall’s thinking on bringing Rose back into the fold.
“Just seeing him and that reaction, it told me what I did was the right thing,” Edsall said. “Right then and there I knew I made the right decision and that we weren’t going to have any issues moving forward.”
In telling the tale, Edsall was reminded of the influence his job affords him to have on some young men.
“Doing what I do, it’s pretty impactful,” Edsall said.
As for the reason for his departure from the team some 12 months ago, Rose, making his first public comments since leaving, was vague.
“I’d say it was more of a personal thing. Mentally I just wasn’t there,” Rose said. “I felt like me not being there mentally, I wasn’t getting anything positive out of it. I just needed some time off.”
He continued to be rather cryptic about the reasons for his furlough, but few of the Huskies seemed to care.
“Whatever happened then, happened then. Now I’m back. I’m happy,” Rose said.
Teammate and fellow tight end Tommy Myers has joked that he’ll be chaining Rose to his bed at night to keep him from escaping again this August.
But those kind of good-natured jibes, which Rose seems to enjoy as much as his teammates, are the only form of retribution Rose is facing these days.
“All the guys welcomed me back with open arms, which I really appreciated because I kind of walked out on them,” Rose said.
His stated reasons for departing involved being “closer to home,” but Rose admitted he missed the game of football nearly as soon as he left Storrs.
“As soon as I stopped playing, I started missing the game,” Rose said.
“That time off really opened my eyes and made me realize this is something I want to do.”
When Diaco was fired and Edsall came on board in the new calendar year, it seemed the perfect time for Rose to re-start his career.
“When I saw that they re-hired coach Edsall I was excited. I talked to coach Edsall when he was at Maryland so we had a little bit of a history,” Rose said.
With practices just now beginning, it’s not clear if or how much Rose will see the field this season. He’s put on some 15 pounds since his days as Southington’s quarterback, bulking up to roughly 240 pounds.
Although he knows he won’t be playing QB at UConn, he’s willing to do what it takes to contribute right away.
“It’s been a while since I’ve played football so I’ll do anything I can to help this team out, whatever it is,” Rose said.