UCONN head coach Paul Pasqualoni is using a story of David Tyree to motivate his best players to contribute to special teams.
Tyree, who is most known for making the leaping catch of Eli Manning’s floater in Super Bowl XLII, once started out as a disgruntled strong safety at Syracuse when Pasqualoni served as the head coach.
Pasqualoni explained to the TheDay.com , "We talk about this for an hour or so, so I finally say to him, 'Here's the deal. Here's what I'll do right now. I'll make a deal with you ... a handshake deal. I'll let you be a wide receiver if you play all four units of special teams. And you may never, ever walk into my office and say, 'Coach, I'm tired of special teams.' He said, 'All right, I'll do it.'”
"What happens? He becomes a special teams freaking highlight film. So now it's time for the draft. The Giants certainly are not going to take him as a wide receiver, so they take him as a special teams guy. Now he's playing core special teams … he's playing all units, so now he's at The Game (Super Bowl) and playing wide receiver because by now his craft is wide receiver."
"But he's at The Game because of special teams. He's not at The Game because of wide receiver. He dresses, and now they've got an extra wide receiver and he's able to go into the game. They need an extra guy, throw him into the game, and what happens in the Super Bowl? He makes the catch with the ball pinned against his head, and it just turns out to be the biggest play of the game."
"And how did he get there? He got there from special teams. That's the truth."
Despite never catching more than 19 passes in 7 seasons in the NFL, Tyree had a terrific career. Not only did he win a Super Bowl, but Tyree also earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2005...as a special teams player.
Pasqualoni will coach his first game for UCONN when the Huskies open the 2011 season against Fordham. The next three games are at Vanderbilt, Iowa State, and at Buffalo.