ALBANY — Growing up in the Baltimore area, Aamir Hall and DaeSean Winston were a couple years apart in age, but more than familiar with each other.
“We actually went to rival high schools,” said Winston, who played at Archbishop Spalding in Edgewood, Maryland, while Hall played at Baltimore’s Mount St. Joseph’s.
Once both headed to college — Winston to Temple, Hall to Richmond — they’d occasionally meet up in the offseason to work out together. After the 2022 football season, the two defensive backs both entered the NCAA’s transfer portal, and as fate would have it, ran into each other in December when they were making their campus visits to UAlbany.
“We didn’t even know we were both visiting at the same time,” Winston said.
“We kind of talked together,” Hall said, “and made a decision later.”
Hall and Winston were part of a 19-player class that UAlbany football head coach Greg Gattuso introduced Wednesday on National Signing Day. The class, made up of eight transfers and 11 incoming freshmen, bolsters a Great Danes roster that is set to return 20 starters between offense, defense and special teams in 2023.
Hall, a rising redshirt junior, was an FCS Freshman All-American as a cornerback at Richmond, while graduate transfer Winston contributed for four seasons as a safety at Temple.
“It’s a great opportunity here,” Hall said. “I think there’s a lot of good going on with this program, just how close-knit everyone is. I can see the program trending in a positive direction. That’s the thing that brings a program from struggling to winning championships.”
Multiple position groups were addressed in the signing class, with the offensive line as a particular focus. UAlbany has four starters returning next season, but the loss of center Kobe Thomas — a four-year starter — leaves a major hole to fill. Six of the 19 players in the incoming class are offensive linemen.
Two transfers, Ben Eisenhower from Lackawanna College and Ondre Toland from Monroe Community College, could be immediate plug-and-play options. Freshmen Sean Dugery, Nolan Latulippe, Anthony Schrom and Joey McMahon are developmental pieces.
Schrom, from Shaker High School, is one of three Section II products to sign, along with Guilderland linebacker Troy Berschwinger and La Salle Institute safety Cam Stodghill.
UAlbany’s quarterback room also got a boost in depth following the departure of backups Joey Carino — now a UAlbany men’s lacrosse player — and Tyler Szalkowski from the program. Jordan Rae from Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse gives the Great Danes a young quarterback to develop, while graduate transfer Trey Lindsey from Auburn will provide some veteran mentorship to returning starter and 2022 CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year Reese Poffenbarger.
Like Poffenbarger, Lindsey was a transfer target suggested by UAlbany offensive coordinator Jared Ambrose
“I was like, ‘He understands we have a pretty good guy here?’” Gattuso said. “And he was good. He loves the competition. He wants a challenge, but he also understands team building and what to do. Having an older guy that can step in is really important.”
Poffenbarger, who transferred to UAlbany from Old Dominion just before the start of last summer, also has a former teammate coming into the fold with the addition of former Monarchs wide receiver Levi Wentz.
UAlbany, which went 3-8 overall and 2-6 in CAA play in 2022, is set to open its 2023 season on Aug. 26 with a home game against Fordham.
UALBANY FOOTBALL 2023 SIGNING CLASS
Ben Eisenhower, OL, Lackawanna
Aamir Hall, CB, Richmond
Nate Larkins, RB, Bentley
Trey Lindsey, QB, Auburn
Michel Lucien, LB, Monroe
Ondre Toland, OL, Monroe
Levi Wentz, WR, Old Dominion
DaeSean Winston, S, Temple
Troy Berschwinger, LB, Guilderland
Sean Dugery, OL, Haverford (Pa.)
Dillon Dunathan, LB, Damascus (Md.)
Neco Eberhardt, DL, Aliquippa (Pa.)
Joey Koch, ATH, Mahopac
Nolan Latulipple, OL, Champlain Lenoxville (Que.)
Joey McMahon, OL, St. Joseph’s Prep (Pa.)
Jordan Rae, QB, Syracuse Christian Brothers Academy
Anthony Schrom, OL, Shaker
Cam Stodghill, S, La Salle Institute
King Tshiama, DL, Quince Orchard (Md.)
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Categories: College Sports, Sports, UAlbany