Stonehill head coach Robert Talley played an instrumental role in New Haven coach Peter Rossomando attending Boston University. (PHOTO BY Richard Orr)
EASTON, Mass. - The day for high school seniors to sign their college football letters of intent was rapidly approaching in February 1990.
Peter Rossomando, a standout player at Port Richmond High School on Staten Island, N.Y., was facing a dilemma with the deadline only a few days away.
He had been recruited by Holy Cross and Lafayette and was leaning toward attending the University of Maine when a last-minute option appeared.
Boston University, which wanted Rossomando to walk-on as a freshman and receive a scholarship down the road, had switched coaches, going from Chris Palmer to Dan Allen.
The new staff wanted to give Rossomando a scholarship right away, but recruiting was in a dead period with the signing day so close, so BU was unable to offer him an official visit to tour the campus.
That didn't stop Rossomando from traveling to Boston to see the school, thanks to a teacher at Port Richmond High and her son, who was a prominent member of the BU football team.
Rossomando asked the teacher, Nancy Ashon, if her son, Robert Talley, could show him around the BU campus if he made the trip to Boston for an unofficial visit.
"I called her and she said, 'Well, I'll call Rob,''' recalled Rossomando, who was three years behind Talley. "Rob said, 'Sure, I'll show him around.'''
So Rossomando flew from Newark, N.J., and spend a Monday with fellow Staten Island resident Talley, getting a feel for the BU community. Two days later, he signed a letter of intent to play for the Terriers and was a freshman defensive lineman when Talley was a senior defensive back in the '90 season.
More than two decades later, they are opposing coaches in the Northeast-10 Conference, Talley in his sixth season at Stonehill College and Rossomando in his fifth year at the nationally ranked University of New Haven.
On Thursday night, in a game that will be televised on the CBS Sports Network from W.B. Mason Stadium, Talley will square off with his former BU teammate, the player he helped to recruit to the Commonwealth Avenue school.
"He's a good friend of mine,'' said Talley, a two-time All-America at BU and the program's leading tackler after being a standout player at Curtis High School. "We're both from Staten Island and there's definitely a lot of roots going back there. He went to the high school where my mom was a teacher. I was real familiar with him as he was going through school.
"I think I did a pretty good (selling job of BU) because he got there. It was an easy sell job. The coaches wanted him to be part of the team, and I told him he had a chance to be successful and they had a pretty good run when he was there. They had some pretty good teams.''
Rossomando was on the 1993 BU team that went 11-0 in the regular season and defeated Kurt Warner and Northern Iowa in double overtime in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
"I wanted to go there originally, but they wanted me to walk on for a year and then get a scholarship, but I couldn't afford that,'' said Rossomando, who became an offensive lineman as a senior. "Rob basically sold me when Danny Allen got the job and offered me a scholarship.
"I remember I flew up in the morning out of Newark. He picked me up at 10 o'clock at Logan Airport with his roommate. I knew about him because he had been a great player at Curtis High. He took me around campus, we went to some classes. We ate in the student union and he introduced me to a bunch of guys on the team.
"It was sort of like a makeshift recruiting day. He dropped me off at the airport at 7 o'clock and I flew back at 8. It was one day, in and out.
"He's one of my really good friends. He always treated me with a tremendous amount of respect as a young player and I always respected him for that. He sort of took me under his wing and introduced me to all the guys.''
New Haven is flourishing under Rossomando, going 30-9 since 2009 and earning the No. 3 ranking in this week's national Div. 2 poll. Stonehill is off to a 4-3 start, including 4-2 in the conference.
The ex-BU teammates will be meeting for the fourth time on Thursday night.