The future of UConn football got a lot brighter this morning as quarterback commit Steven Krajewski made it official as he signed with the Huskies during the first early signing day under the new NCAA recruiting rules. Hailing from Georgia, by way of Michigan, Krajewski has been molded by one of the top high school minds in the country, Rush Propst.
A week ago, the Colquitt County Packers found themselves in a hole in the Georgia 7A State Championship as the scoreboard read North Gwinnett 16, Colquitt County 10 with just 5:50 to play. Krajewski walked onto the field, needing to drive the Packers 80-yards to keep their improbable playoff run to the title alive. Having played on the road for the first four games of these playoffs and seeing the title game moved from Mercedes-Benz Stadium to the home turf of North Gwinnett after a rare December winter storm in and around the Atlanta area cancelled games two weekends ago, Krajewski found his team on the road once again, their fourth test against a regional number one seed in this year’s playoffs.
The noise and energy raining down from the stands couldn’t stop Colquitt County, led by Krajewski’s 4-for-4 performance, including a go-ahead 13-yard TD pass that put the Packers ahead 17-16 with just under 50-seconds remaining. He showed poise and calm in the pocket on the drive, leading his team closer to victory. The game ended up in North Gwinnett’s hands, but for Huskies fans, what Krajewski did on the final drive is promising.
“I just tried to remain calm,” he said over the phone on Tuesday evening. “I knew it was a big situation, but we went out and executed like we had all year. To me, it was no different than any other drive. The only difference is it was a big setting, but I just maintained that calm mentality as you said and went out there, completed passes and drove down the field. We ended up scoring, which was great, but it’s all about remaining calm and making the proper reads.”
Being away from home for more than a month also helped drive him and his team throughout the postseason.
“There was definitely some adversity that we had to overcome, but we used that as fuel to drive us,” he said. “It really helped us to get to the state championship because it really motivated us to do something no other team in the state of Georgia had ever done and that’s play all games on the road and make it to the state championship. We accomplished that goal and obviously we didn’t win the title, but I’m really proud of the adversity we overcame. We said that we were going to do something, we went out there, did it and nobody, but the team believed in us. We really used that as our passion and our drive to keep going out there and playing well on the road. We were making these four hour trips every week, but we got through it.”
Bringing that mentality to Storrs will only endear him to UConn Nation. Speaking like a mature 25-year old, Krajewski talked about his decision to commit to the Huskies, his progression as a player, his experience at high school and his familiarity with UConn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.
“When I took my official visit, I really loved it there and loved all the coaches, but mainly, a big influence in my decision was the return of Coach Edsall and Coach Lashlee becoming a coach there,” he said. “I know Coach Lashlee is an amazing coach and I’m really looking forward to working with him. When I visited campus and truly got to see what it was really like there, that’s when I really fell in love with it and decided to commit.”
Edsall’s choice of Lashlee as OC a year ago has gone a long way not just on the field in the dramatic increase in year-over-year offensive production, but on the recruiting trail as well. Lashlee knows southern football, and has made inroads at some of the major high schools across the region. Here, there were clear connections to Colquitt County for Rhett, including Bryce Giddens, the Packers current tight ends coach, who played on the offensive line under Lashlee at Arkansas State. Krajewski confirmed the familiarirty.
“There was,” he said. “There’s actually been a couple players that came out of Colquitt County that have played for Coach Lashlee. Bryce Giddens told me a lot of good things about [Coach Lashlee], so there was definitely a lot of familiarity with coach.”
Krajewski started his career in Michigan, before his family decided to move south, partly because of football, allowing Steven to compete at a much higher higher level.
“The competition in Georgia is very, very good, compared to the top tier in Michigan, which was one of the reasons we chose to move down south,” he verified. “I’ve definitely progressed as a quarterback, as a player and as a leader more than I could have had I stayed in Michigan. It’s been a great journey getting here and I’m really thankful to have made the move.”
Krajewski credits his current head coach for his further development.
“Coach Propst runs the program like it’s a college and that’s really helped me prepare for the next level,” he said. “He’s done a great job teaching me and really stresses the preparation aspect of football. That’s something that some newer coaches may not stress as much as he does. He’s got the experience, is a heckuva coach and it was great learning from him over the last couple of years.”
That approach has gotten Propst back on the SEC’s radar, as it’s been reported that Tennessee and Alabama are in discussions that would potentially bring him to the college level in an assistant type role. Back in 2007, Propst interviewed with Nick Saban, but that fell through due to the myriad of personal issues that became public knowledge when stories broke on Paul Finebaum’s nationally syndicated radio show. Krajewski is keeping an eye on what transpires with his current head coach, but it would not have an impact on his decision.
For those that haven’t seen him play, what type of quarterback will they see if they put on his film?
“I’m officially labeled as a pro-style quarterback,” he said. “But I like to believe that I have the athleticism to get out of the pocket and extend the play when I need to.”
In addition to the familiarity with Lashlee, Krajewski is going to be very comfortable in the offense he will be running in Storrs.
“Absolutely,” he responded. “That was another key factor in deciding to go to UConn was the offense that we run at Colquitt is very similar to the offense that Coach Lashlee runs at UConn. I think I’ll fit in perfectly with the system he has in place right now.”
As last weeks championship game played out, there was one observer who made the trip down from Connecticut to take in the environment and see how Krajewski reacted on the big stage, Randy Edsall.
“It was amazing to have Coach Edsall travel so far to watch me play,” Krajewski said. “That just shows me even more of why he is such an amazing coach. I really look forward to being coached by him and am really appreciative of him coming down.”
As official letter of intents continue to come in this morning, Krajewski is already becoming familiar with a new group of teammates, especially the ones in the 2018 class.
“I’ve talked to a few commits and we’ve all been talking about how excited we are to come up there, start progressing the team and the program,” he said. “We really look forward to what’s ahead in the future.”
MATT SCHONVISKY / SITE CREATOR