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As late as his junior year in high school, Connor Scaglione was not sure what level of collegiate football he would be playing.
At a satellite camp, Princeton Assistant Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator and Tight Ends Coach Mike Willis was one of the first coaches Scaglione met.
The two made an instant connection.
“Connor was easy to recruit because of our shared North Jersey roots – we both proudly played at (different) public high schools in Bergen County,” said Willis. I think we clicked because of that shared heritage. I was also able to speak to my experience playing offensive line at Princeton under Coach Surace and how I knew we had a great blueprint for Connor. Connor’s athletic potential was exciting – but we knew he was a great fit because of his character, toughness, and dedication to being a true student-athlete.”
Later that summer, Scaglione made the trip to Princeton, where he realized it was the place for him after meeting Reily Radosevich ’22 and Stefan Ivanisevic ’19.
In high school, Scaglione played defensive end and offensive line, but didn’t have a preference for either as he was getting recruited for the next level. Former Princeton offensive coordinator Andrew Aurich noted that with his athletic skillset and with putting on some weight, Scaglione could be an excellent offensive lineman for the Tigers.
Freshman year proved to be difficult for Scaglione. Academically, he didn’t know what he wanted to do, so he had to adjust to the workload.
Then there was the football part of Princeton. He quickly realized that he needed to put on weight as he sat at the bottom of the scout team depth chart.
He started to make progress by meeting with Aurich every week, going over scout team film, and eventually ended the year with his weight around 285-290. He also saw action in the junior varsity games that were helpful for his growth.
“I think (the JV games were) massive for my development because I showed flashes that allowed the coaches to see how hard I was working,” said Scaglione. “Also looking back on it, it was great to go up against the great defensive line we had in 2018. To block those guys every day in practice helped mold me into the player I am today.”
Scaglione’s sophomore year saw him get regular rotation time on the offensive line, averaging 15-25 snaps per contest. He played in nine games, making one start as the Tigers finished 8-2 overall.
“The 2019 season was huge for me for two reasons,” said Scaglione. “It, first, got the nervous factor out of the way for me. It was such a big goal for me to just get on the field, and to be able to do that was a great experience. It also provided inspiration because I wasn’t satisfied with just a few snaps. I wanted to be a starter that opened and finished the game.”
Unfortunately, Scaglione would have to wait for his opportunity to start as the COVID-19 pandemic hit and eventually the 2020 season was canceled.
During that time, Scaglione lived in the Princeton area with Dylan Classi, Dawson De Iuliis, Ford Roberts, Brevin White and Carson Bobo.
In the spring of 2020, the team practiced and lifted weights in the bubble on the football field. After spending the first few years at Princeton at guard and tackle, the spring practices saw him at tackle.
“Knowing I had the trust of Coach (Chris) Zaroskie (Princeton offensive line coach) and Coach Surace to put me at tackle meant a lot to me,” said Scaglione. “That encouraged me to work harder. Knowing I was going to be the right tackle was all the motivation I needed.
The 2021 campaign saw Scaglione become a full-time starter and Princeton go on to a 9-1 record and an Ivy League crown.
From last on the scout team to Ivy League champion.
“It all goes back to the culture,” said Scaglione. “You’re taught to work hard and if you put in the effort, good things will come to you. It’s important to celebrate the wins because it’s so hard to win a lot of games in Division I football. However, after we win a game, it’s on to next week and that’s what has carried me throughout my career.”
Something even more impressive about his first year as a starter, Scaglione played the 2021 campaign with a torn labrum in his hip. He took the spring of 2022 off from school, which allowed more time on recovery and gave him the option for a fifth year in the fall of 2022.
Zaroskie, Scaglione’s position coach, who started at Princeton right before the COVID-19 pandemic, quickly understood what he brought to the table.
“It’s an honor to work with Connor,” said Zaroskie. “He comes to work every day and is incredibly focused. He has provided a lot of versatility for our team and our unit, playing both guard and tackle for us over the last three years. Whatever has been best for the team, he’s done it and I love him for that. You can see his development from year to year and it’s shown again this season. I love seeing him get better every week. I’m proud and happy for him and his development. It’s a direct product of his hard work and focus.”
Princeton travels to Yale on Saturday (Kickoff at 12 p.m.), looking for its 11th straight win and a share of its second straight Ivy League title.
Not bad for the former last player on the scout team.


december, 2022