There’s definitely a little something about the Nutmeg State that is adding spice to Washington State native Wayne Hunter’s game.
Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, for example, has talked highly about what he wants to get this year out of Hunter, the Jets’ right tackle. And Hunter appreciates Sparano’s appreciation.
“Tony knows I can play the position,” Hunter said. “Everybody knows I can play the position or else I wouldn’t be the right tackle here. They would’ve brought in somebody else by now. The fact of the matter is that Tony believes in me and I believe in myself.”
Sparano, as we’ve become familiar, was born in West Haven, Conn., was a four-year center at the University of New Haven and went on to become the head coach there.
He’s also is a big fan of OL coach Dave DeGuglielmo.
“I love him. I think it’s a good change for me,” Hunter said. “Nastiness — an offensive lineman should have that. And I think I lost a little of that over the years. I think ‘Guge’ is going to restore that for me and light a fire under my butt. He’s going to push me out the door.”
DeGuglielmo was a Boston guy but he spent a few years coaching at UConn before moving on to the pros.
And Hunter likens Coach Guge to someone else he respects in his life.
“He’s exactly like my offensive line coach in college at Hawai’i, Mike Cavanaugh, who’s with Oregon State now,” he said.
Cavanaugh … born and bred in Connecticut, graduated from Southern Connecticut State.
We mention Wayne’s Conn-ection as an interesting note, but Hunter isn’t just relying on his coaches to rebound from 2011. He’s doing a lot of the heavy lifting himself. We won’t know for sure until he and his Jets linemates and teammates hit the field for minicamp in mid-June and training camp in August, but it feels as if Hunter has a great attitude for ’12. He knows he needs to step up but he hasn’t lost faith in himself.
“I think there’s a lot of stuff that I need to get better at,” he said a week ago in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room. “I’m still the starting right tackle for the New York Jets. That hasn’t changed and it’s not going to change. I know my play’s got to get better. I had a lot of good games — a lot of good games. I also had some bad games. Inconsistency was my word for the year. So that needs to get better and it will get better.”
Today he sounded a similar theme.
“In my opinion, the opinion of my peers and the opinion of a lot of people in this league, I’m one of the more talented right tackles in the league,” he said. “I’ve just got to put it on the field. Last year is already in the past.”
“My job right now,” he concluded, “is just to get better, and also to just win the fans back.”
Get better, get nastier, grind away at the opponents like he did at the end of the 2010 season — that will win the fans back and underscore his belief in himself.
Shonn on Sparano
Add tailback Shonn Greene’s comment to the list of quotes about what Sparano has brought to the Jets. What does Shonn like about his new OC? “I think just his passion, his style of coaching,” Greene said. “He’s very loud. He’s demanding — in a good way. He just makes you want to work that much harder.”
For any who missed it and want to mark it on their calendars, the Jets’ preseason finale at Philadelphia on Thursday, Aug. 30, will kick off at 6:35 p.m. ET.
Tags: Dave DeGuglielmo, Shonn Greene, Tony Sparano, Wayne Hunter
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