NEW CANAAN — When New Canaan lineman David Siegel suffered a torn labrum requiring surgery during a football camp last summer, his thoughts were both on a lost junior season, and a return to the field for his senior year.
At the time, Rams’ coach Lou Marinelli called the loss of the emerging star a “worst nightmare” scenario. And that nightmare was long before the COVID-19 pandemic and the CIAC’s subsequent cancellation of the 11-on-11 football season this fall.
“You feel for a kid like him,” Marinelli said. “It’s heartbreaking.”
For Siegel, who played for the Rams as a sophomore, the loss of his senior campaign isn’t just about the on-the-field competition. It’s also thrown a monkey-wrench into the college recruiting process. Without game film from the past two seasons, Siegel is at a disadvantage when compared to recruits from other states.
“It’s been very tough,” said the 6-foot-6, 270-pound Siegel. “I’ve been doing a lot of combines, sending in lifts and stuff like that, but what a lot of coaches want to see is game film and right now, that’s the hardest thing to get.”
“The last film he has is from his sophomore year,” Marinelli said. “So when (college coaches) look at him, it’s all based on his size and potential.”
Marinelli said Siegel has the size and athletic ability to be a special football player in high school and beyond, with the potential to play for a top BCS program in college conferences such as the Big 10 or the ACC.
That would continue New Canaan’s recent run of top college recruits, including Zach Allen and Jack Conley at Boston College, Lucas Niang at TCU, Jack Stewart at Michigan, and Drew Pyne at Notre Dame.
In fact, Marinelli compared Siegel to Conley, another big lineman who graduated from NCHS in 2019.
“(Siegel is) very athletic, he’s tall, he’s got good range and he’s a wonderful kid,” Marinelli said. “If I could find another tackle, I’d try him at tight end because I think he’s that athletic. He’s also a basketball player and that helps.
“He’s a tremendous teammate. He probably got the most recognition when the kids were voting for captains.”
In the absence of actual games, the Rams are working on film of workouts and drills for Siegel, something they did for Niang before the NFL draft in the spring. Niang was selected by Kansas City in the third round.
“We got it to (Niang’s) agent, who sent it out to all the (NFL) teams,” Marinelli said. “If you get them doing some agilities, the 40, get’em going laterally, and doing the box drill, coaches can get an idea of what he can do. But it’s definitely not like watching him play. When you see game film, you see what kids are really made of.”
The cupboard certainly isn’t bare for Siegel.
According to Marinelli, Siegel has gotten looks and has offers from several schools, including UMass, UConn, Buffalo and Holy Cross, but has neither committed nor nailed down what his future path will be. He could take a post graduate year and play football at a private school or head to a college program and possibly transfer if the opportunity arises.
There’s also the possibility of representing New Canaan in a private league, something some coaches, including Marinelli, have been working for.
“That’s something I’m still deciding on,” Siegel said. “I still have both options. Hopefully, I’ll be able to play a game or two if we have a private league and then I’d be able to make a decision after that.”
“Time will tell depending on what experience he’s able to get and how he’s able to to develop this year and next year,” Marinelli said.
With more than 30 states playing high school football, Connecticut players are in a tough spot due to the CIAC’s decision to cancel 11-on-11 football. The CIAC recently announced the possibility of a second-semester football season, which would start with conditioning on Feb. 22 and end on April 17.
“It’s unfortunate because I think the kids in Connecticut are really at a disadvantage, especially when you have states that are playing,” Marinelli said. “The colleges will get a chance to see those kids (from other states) play, but not the kids in Connecticut.”
While the road ahead is unclear, Siegel said that he and his teammates have remained dedicated during a difficult year.
“This grade is extremely close,” Siegel said. “Most of us have been playing together since third grade. Especially this year, it’s been very tough to keep the team positive, but everyone’s been really good with it. Everybody keeps coming (to practice) regardless of the outcome of the season.
“The camaraderie of this team has been like nothing I’ve seen before. It’s a real special year and we want to get everything we can out of it.”
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