ALBANY — When he accepted the head coaching position for the University at Albany football program, Greg Gattuso joked his intention was to stick around as long as Bob Ford, his predecessor who coached for 44 years at UAlbany.
“I got about 40 more to go,” Gattuso said Thursday, not long after UAlbany athletic director Mark Benson announced a new contract for the coach during a press conference at which Gattuso revealed the Great Danes’ incoming class of recruits.
Gattuso, 55, had been signed through the 2019 season. His new deal keeps him in place at UAlbany through the 2022 season, with an annual salary of $271,259.00.
In his first four seasons, Gattuso’s teams have produced a 21-24 mark as UAlbany continues to develop into a CAA program. Benson said he’s been satisfied with the progress shown by the Great Danes with Gattuso at the helm.
“It’s a big transition, and I feel really great about the job that he and the staff have done,” Benson said.
“My wife and I are thrilled,” Gattuso said of his new deal. “We love the community.”
UAlbany, coming off a 4-7 season, announced the signing of 14 student-athletes to join the Great Danes for Gattuso’s fifth season. The coach said he’s hopeful his extension will help bolster future recruiting with the stability his long-term deal creates. He said it’s a sign to potential recruits they won’t sign up to play for a coach who is on the way out.
“That’s just not going to be a problem here because it’s where I want to be,” Gattuso said.
Six new Great Danes are from New York, including four from the Capital Region.
Those four players with Section II ties include Troy teammates Joe Casale and Dev Holmes, plus Colonie product Niko Culnan and Shaker’s Mohab Omer. Culnan and Omer are offensive linemen, while Casale is a safety and Holmes is a wide receiver.
Casale and Holmes helped lead Troy to back-to-back Class AA state championships. Casale has long been committed to UAlbany, while Holmes recently switched his committment from Villanova to the Great Danes.
“It’s great to beat Villanova on the field,” Gattuso said of the CAA rival. “It’s even better to beat them for a talent like Dev Holmes.”
In a Feb. 1 tweet, Holmes announced his intention to switch from Villanova to UAlbany.
“When he reached back out that he was interested,” Gattuso said, “we were really excited.”
German joins Great Danes
The hardest recruit for UAlbany to land?
Probably Robert Lachmann, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound defensive end from Germany.
“I had to take a boat,” Gattuso joked.
Lachmann, one of three mid-year transfers for the Great Danes, last played for the Hamburg Black Swans. There, he played for a coach once coached by UAlbany associate head coach/defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski — who took over those roles from Bernard Clark, who left UAlbany this offseason to become head coach at Robert Morris.
“This is where he wanted to be,” Gattuso said of Lachmann.
UAlbany’s full incoming class
- Juwan Green, Wide Receiver, 6-0, 175, Lackawanna College (Pa.)
- Robert Lachmann, DE, 6-3, 230, Hamburg Black Swans (Germany)
- Dante Mount, Cornerback, 6-0, 190, Erie Community College (N.Y.)
- Joe Casale, S, 6-3, 180, Troy High School (N.Y.)
- Niko Culnan, OL, 6-3, 285, Hudson Valley Community College / South Colonie (N.Y.)
- Joe Halasy, DL, 6-5, 235, Midwood High School (N.Y.)
- Dev Holmes, Wide Receiver, 5'9", 160, Troy High School (N.Y.)
- Thomas Greaney, Tight End, 6'6", 230, Lawrence Academy (Ma.)
- Tyler Oedekoven, Wide Receiver, 6'2", 170, Cathedral Prep (Pa.)
- Mohab Omer, OL, 6-4, 335, Shaker High School (N.Y.)
- Ian Renninger, TE, 6-7, 225, Pottsville High School (Pa.)
- Xavier Smith, CB, 5-9, 170, Canton McKinley (Oh.)
- Kobe Thomas, OL, 6-2, 260, Parkland High School (Pa.)
- Jeff Undercuffler, QB, 6-6, 215, Holy Cross Academy (N.J.)