Just in case Ryan Fitton wasn’t already aware that it might be easier to strike out a batter with a back-door breaking ball than try to contend with imposing pass rushers in the rough and tumble FCIAC, let’s go back in time to October 24, 2014.
Fitton, then weighing in around 215 pounds, was a willing blocker but like so many other tight ends and offensive linemen discovered, expressing the desire to block New Canaan High School resident superstar Zach Allen is much different than actually being able to accomplish the feat.
Before Fitton was drawing the interest of major-college programs and while he was still contemplating whether to play football or baseball in college, he was still getting a crash course on life in the talent-rich FCIAC.
Allen, now at Boston College and a player that Staples coach Marce Petroccio predicted could make the jump to the NFL, had a sack, recovered a fumble and blocked a field goal in a game that forever shaped Fitton’s future.
“I played as a sophomore and it was tough because I was 210-215, going against some big defensive ends, Zach Allen, (Stanford University freshman tight end and former Greenwich High star) Scooter Harrington so that was tough,” Fitton said. “I really worked on that, I gained some weight and also in my receiving game on my speed and those skills. I remember against Zach Allen my sophomore and he was really tough to block. I said if I was going to be a good tight end, I was going to get bigger and work on my run blocking.”
Fitton certainly put in the work in the weight room and on the football field. He know stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 245 pounds and in July he became the fifth player and first from Connecticut to commit to UConn from the high school Class of 2017.
Petroccio, who has sent his share of players off to college during a successful run with the Wreckers, knew that Fitton was just a little bit different when he expressed his desire to improve as a blocker.
“It is just how he is,” Petroccio said. “That is what made him so attractive to these schools is that you don’t too many tight ends who play on the line of scrimmage who can come off and block the (defensive ends) and he is that kind of kid. That is his little niche. He is getting better every day at running routes. He has great hands, he is so big and he has grown so fast that sometimes it is hard for him to get his legs under him.
“Ryan is a great kid; a hard worker; he comes from a great family. He is working after practice on routes, he is in the office watching film, he is just a great kid.”
Fitton had back-to-back games where we finished with 11 catches for 182 yards and a touchdown in games against Stamford and Ridgefield but Petroccio admitted that Fitton wasn’t always as involved in the passing game as he should have been. That is something that is going to change.
Fitton will be fine with that but if he is primarily a blocker, that’s fine with him.
“If we need to run the ball the majority of time, I am fine with that,” Fitton said. “I have been blocking a long time, I like blocking. Of course I am good running routes as well. I guess I do it (blocking) so much and I like driving people back. I don’t like being the tight end that runs a route every time that is what I like about it.”
Fitton knows he could be walking into a pretty good situation at UConn. The Huskies top two tight ends are juniors Alec Bloom and Tommy Myers. When he gets there, they will be seniors and if he redshirts during his first season in Storrs, he could be part of the equation at tight end beginning in the 2018 season.
“They use two tight ends a lot and I think it awesome when you utilize a tight end so that is definitely good for me and I am excited,” Fitton said. “I am not sure if I am going to redshirt. Hopefully I get to play my redshirt freshman year, I don’t really know how things are going to turn out, maybe I’ll get on the field early.”
Just over a month after Fitton committed to UConn, Stamford native Omar Fortt joined him as a UConn commit. The Huskies have landed Fairfield County prospects in the past including Bridgeport’s Trevardo Williams, Brookfield’s Scott Lutrus, Monroe’s Casey Cochran and current star receiver Noel Thomas of Norwalk but going back to 2002, it is the first time the Huskies will have two players from Fairfield County in the class.
Considering that coaches from that part of the state were among the most vocal when Paul Pasqualoni was fired, it is a sign of how much work Bob Diaco and his staff have done recruiting in that part of Connecticut.
Both Petroccio and St. Luke’s coach Noel Thomas Sr. (yes, the father of the UConn senior receiver) have been quick to praise running backs coach David Corley who recruits in Fairfield County for doing his due diligence.
So what if this could be a turning point in getting top Fairfield County prospects in coming to UConn?
“There is a lot of talent there so I think it is good that we have three guys from there,” Fitton said. “Hopefully we can continue to get guys from the FCIAC and all over the state.”
Before Fitton gets to UConn he has some unfinished business at Staples.
The Wreckers won three state titles from 2002-2005 and played in a state championship games eight times from 1997-2011. However, since Fitton has been at Staples the Wreckers have made the state playoffs just once and that was a 41-7 loss to Darien last season.
Even with injuries keeping talented running back Ethan Burger from playing this season, expectations are high for the Wreckers.
“When everybody comes here, they want to play here and there would be no better way to end my time here than with a state championship,” Fitton said. “I think a lot of seniors are starting to realize that. Every year we expect an FCIAC and state championship and I think this year we have a good chance. We get yelled at a lot but it is a good thing because our coaches expect so much out of us, I expect perfection and that really makes us better.”