Rising seniors Joey Connors and Keegan Karim recently made their respective commitments to play for Central Florida and Western Kentucky.
“They’re both exceptional students and players, and full qualifiers, so it was a no-brainer with their grades and test scores that they’d go to college,” Dickmann said. “They’re also great young men of character, and their athletic abilities were there for them to sign a scholarship.”
Connors, a 6-foot-3, 265-pounder who primarily lines up as a defensive end, is entering his third-year on the varsity squad and second as a starter. He received 11 offers before narrowing his top choices to Central Florida, Wake Forest, Cincinnati, Ball State and Northern Illinois.
“When I went for a visit, I liked the campus and the coaches,” Connors said. “I was born near Orlando, so I have a lot of family there. I knew going to college that I wanted to go back to Florida.”
Connors was offered the scholarship during an unofficial visit to Orlando on July 1. It took him about two weeks to commit because he had other camps to go to, and a visit to Ball State’s campus in Indiana.
“Joey has a big motor, and that’s what colleges like about him,” Dickmann said. “He has a great work ethic, especially in our weight room, which is where he really goes after it. I’m going to try and keep him on the defensive line, but he could see some offensive line for us.”
Connors expects to redshirt during his first season at Central Florida, which is what happens to many incoming freshmen. He’s also been informed that he may be due for a position change when he suits up for the Knights of the American Athletic Conference — the offshoot of the former Big East.
“I think they’re going to put about 20 more pounds on me and move me to defensive tackle,” Connors said. “I move around the defensive line at Harrison already, so it shouldn’t be an issue playing tackle.
“I’ve been to about 10-plus college, and I’m just excited for it to be over. I’m ready for the fall because I think we’re going to have a good year.”
Karim, a 6-1, 190-pound cornerback and wide receiver, should also be able to help the Hoyas have a good season.
“Karim is a great athlete, student and person,” Dickmann said. “He catches the ball well and runs great routes. I’ve been impressed with him since I’ve been here. He’ll play some wide receiver for us. He has great hands and catches everything.”
A two-way player entering his third year as a starter, Karim narrowed his 15 offers down to Western Kentucky, Charlotte, Air Force and BYU.
“I really liked the coaching staff,” Karim said on why he chose the Hilltoppers, helmed by former Arkansas and Atlanta Falcons coach Bobby Petrino. “They had really good facilities, and I liked the college-town atmosphere. It’s a top-notch program.”
When he arrives in 2014, Karim will be part of an emerging Hilltoppers team making its debut in Conference USA, following a five-year association with the Sun Belt.
Karim visited Western Kentucky roughly two months ago, then made a trip to Charlotte before weighing his options. Ultimately, he committed to the Hilltoppers on July 14.
“They liked my size and lankiness, and the fact that I’m kind of tall for a corner,” Karim said. “That’s where I’m expected to play. I’m very excited now and I get to focus my attention on my senior season.”