When Connecticut verbally offered the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Stapleton last night, head coach Paul Pasqualoni told him he has the option to play either tight end or defensive end for the Huskies. UConn has multiple rising seniors at each position, making Storrs, Conn., an enticing option for Stapleton early in the process.
"What impressed me the most about it was the coach telling me about how they have three defensive ends that are seniors and they're all leaving and the same thing with two tight ends," Stapleton said. "He gave me the opportunity to choose which position I would like to play if I went to UConn. Most people really don't get a chance like that to play either side of the ball."
Stapleton plays both defensive end and tight end for his high school and said he has no preference in college right now. But having a choice, he said, makes Connecticut extremely attractive.
"I really don't know yet because I like playing both," Stapleton said. "I love playing defense. I love sacking the quarterback and tackles for loss. On offense, I really love blocking and getting people on their back. I love scoring touchdowns like everyone else does. It's a really tough decision because I love both sides and think I can do well at both."
The proximity to home factor of Connecticut, and other interested local schools like Rutgers, Temple and Syracuse, is important to his family, Stapleton said. He is also receiving interest from Duke, where he will visit for the spring game.
"[Connecticut] close to home and my mother doesn't really want me going too far," Stapleton said. "She may have been more excited than I was about everything. It's great school. I went up there on Saturday, looked at the school. I loved the campus and the facilities and everything about the school. The coaches were all nice and upfront and I liked that."
Stapleton was one of the many top recruits at Rutgers two weeks ago for the basketball team's game against No. 2 Syracuse. Rutgers hosted multiple prospects from New York, but Stapleton was the lone tight end on campus of more than 20 visitors.
"I love the facilities, coaches and everything," he said. "The school was great and hopefully they offer. It was a crazy basketball game and they just lost by a couple of points to one of the best in the country."
Visiting Rutgers, Stapleton said he instantly clicked with newly hired tight ends coach Darnell Dinkins, who has a decade of experience in the NFL.
"I went to my father and was like, ‘woah that's Darnell Dinkins,'" Stapleton said. "I was like ‘oh my God.' I was looking at him and we started talking and I really liked him. He let me wear his ring that he won in New Orleans. He was talking to me about how he went through the same process I'm going through and how he wants to help get me there."