SOUTHINGTON — Tim O’Shea is coming home.
The 6-foot-4, 230-pound former Southington High School football standout will transfer from FCS-level Wagner College to UConn before next season. O’Shea will be a walk-on for the Huskies.
“Being a walk-on, I was told the best players will play,” O’Shea said this week. “I get the opportunity to show what I have. All I need is that opportunity. That’s all I’ve asked and everyone gets that same opportunity.
“I’m not worried about playing time at this point,” O”Shea added. “I just want to develop my skills and give myself the best opportunity to play.”
It’s uncertain at this point whether O’Shea, 19, will be registered as a red-shirt freshman or a sophomore at UConn. At Wagner, O’Shea didn’t get in any varsity games with the Seahawks last fall as a freshman, but traveled with the team.
While O’Shea was at the Staten Island school, he was converted from wide receiver to tight end.
“The transition has been cool,” O’Shea said. “I’m learning more about the game and blocking schemes. It’s a lot more responsibilities that I realized with blocking and receiving.”
O’Shea said the main reason for his transfer is academics.
“Wagner was great,” O’Shea said. “This had nothing to do with football program. The coaches were supportive when I told them I wanted to transfer. I wanted to change major. I leaned a lot football-wise. I’ve bulked up and I’m getting ready for next year.”
O’Shea wants to double-major in Sports Management and Journalism, majors that UConn offers. O’Shea was also considering Southern Connecticut.
He entered the transfer portal in late February. He also reached out to his former coach at Southington, Mike Drury, who told him that UConn graduated some tight ends.
Among the returning tight ends is another former Blue Knight, Jasen Rose.
A few weeks ago, O’Shea met with UConn head coach Randy Edsall, Rose and several other Huskies.
“I sat in on a meeting with Jay Rose, Coach (Randy) Edsall and Corey Edsall and we were watching film from games from the past year,” O’Shea related. “He was quizzing me on stuff. I did pretty well. He was pretty impressed. I always take pride in the mental aspect of the game.”
O’Shea was a star in both the field and classroom at Southington. He was an All-CCC and All-Record-Journal selection in 2017 after nabbing 49 receptions for 609 yards and eight TDs. His 96 academic average earned him R-J Scholar-Athlete designation.
O’Shea was a regular at Rentschler Field as a fan and is happy to be playing on the field he used to visit.
“I’m really excited,” O’Shea said. “It’s awesome playing closer to home. My family and grandfather (Valentino Raimondi) especially can come to the game.
“It’s honestly a dream come true, watching games as a kid. I was at every home game as a kid. I was saying one day I would be one of those guys. I had to work hard and keep my nose to the grindstone. This is a cool opportunity to play for a team that I looked up to as a kid. I want to do my part.”
Ironically, UConn starts its 2019 season against Wagner College on Aug. 29 at home.
“All of the guys here (at Wagner) know what I’m doing,” O’Shea said. “There is some friendly banter going back and forth. I love these guys. We all know what we went through together. I have a lot of friends on this team and they are excited about playing UConn.
“It’s weird how things turned out with UConn and Wagner playing the first game next year. The kids here will be ready and if I get to suit up for the game, it would be great.”
O’Shea said he’s had a great experience at Wagner. His last day at the school was Thursday.
“They work harder than anyone here,” O’Shea said. “I know that first-hand and I wish them luck for many years to come.”
At Wagner, O’Shea joined the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and said he has a strong faith.
“Everything happens for a reason. I never thought I would end up at UConn through Wagner,” O’Shea said. “I have a great family that supports me and I’m excited they get to be on this journey with me. I want to keep grinding and see where this road takes me.”