Here’s my story from Friday’s paper on Mustafaa Dais, a product of Nyack’s Valley Cottage Indians and a Pomona resident who has developed into a coveted college prospect at Hackley:
TARRYTOWN — When Mustafaa Dais lined up to run the 40-yard dash at UConn this spring, he wasn’t exactly sure what to do. So the Hackley senior quickly fell back on his experience as a sprinter, employing the same mechanics that made him one of the best in the state.
Dais dashed through the exercise that separates other football players from the elite in a blistering 4.42 seconds. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound burner ran in the 4.4s at two other camps, stamping himself as a major-college recruit.
“My coaches always told me to get ready for when other coaches were knocking on my door,” Dais said. “And after the season finished and I went to a few camps, he wasn’t lying.”
In recent months, the Pomona resident and product of Nyack’s Valley Cottage Indians has blossomed into the most coveted senior recruit from either side of the Hudson. Dais has already earned nine Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship offers, including from the likes of Connecticut, Temple and Army.
UConn made its offer not long after watching that 40-yard dash.
“He’s tall, he’s long, he’s fast, but he really blossomed coming into his junior year,” Hackley coach Phil Treglia said. “He just grew into his body, was more focused, and saw the gifts that he had and took off.”
As a guidance counselor and former coach at Iona Prep, Treglia has worked closely with some of the area’s top recruits in the last decade. “And if he was at Iona or Stepinac, he’d still be the man,” Treglia said.
Dais was that and more for Hackley last season. He earned all-state honors during the Hornets’ 7-1 season, piling up 1,032 total yards from scrimmage and scoring nine touchdowns.
The lanky but smooth star has attracted offers as both a receiver and defensive back because of his long arms, big hands and impressive leaping ability for a player his size.
“It makes it a lot easier having a guy like him,” said Hackley senior quarterback Joe McDermott, who threw for 18 touchdowns last season without an interception, and is also a possible major-college recruit. “You know sometimes you can put the ball up there and trust him to go and get it.”
“I tell college coaches that his best attributes are his ball skills,” Treglia said. “He can go and get the football. He jumps out of the sky, but he can go and get the football. He can run, but he has other skills you can’t teach.”
That Dais ran as well as he did this spring and summer was not surprising. His personal best in the 100-meter dash is 10.75, and he won independent-schools state titles in the 100, long jump, high jump and triple jump.
Brown, Cornell, Penn, Army and Notre Dame have expressed interest in Dais on the track, but his decision on that is firm. “I think I’m going to play football for sure,” he said.
In addition to his BCS offers, Lafayette, Fordham, James Madison, Albany, Penn and Dartmouth extended offers, and Dais plans on making official visits to UConn, Dartmouth, Penn and two others between now and late October.
“Me and my family are trying to decide if going Ivy is the best decision for me,” he said. “It’s an opportunity you can’t look past.”