A.J. Doyle's relationship with Charley Molnar goes back two summers ago, when the latter was offensive coordinator at Notre Dame and the former was a rising junior quarterback prospect looking to make a name for himself at the Fighting Irish's prospect camp.
Earlier this week, the Catholic Memorial quarterback spoke with ESPNBoston.com about reconnecting with Molnar, now the newly-anointed head coach of UMass, last weekend. Upon being named head coach of the Minutemen on Dec. 8, Molnar made it a point that the first recruit to call was Doyle, to assure him the scholarship offer initially extended by fired head coach Kevin Morris was still on the table.
This afternoon, Molnar met with Doyle in his Lakeville home for nearly an hour and half, and reiterated all the things he had told him on that Saturday night.
Just as it was two summers ago, the connection between the two has been strong. And so it wasn't too long after Molnar left -- in fact, just as the coach was pulling out of the driveway -- that Doyle declared his intent.
"He said everything that you could ask for a coach to tell you, except this coach wasn't B.S.-ing me, he was telling me the truth," Doyle told ESPNBoston.com tonight. "Just the whole, UMass going Division 1, the pride in Western Mass., just wanting to be part of history and make history. Coach Molnar came to my house today and everything he said, it was something I couldn’t pass up. I have a chance at history, and a chance to play for a guy who all he wants to do is win."
Doyle initially committed to NC State last summer, but as a linebacker. Only the Minutemen and Western Michigan had extended a scholarship offer to him to play quarterback at the FBS level. In talks with Molnar, Doyle wasn't just told he has a chance at playing early, but that he would be "a cornerstone recruit for everything he'd try to do here."
"Obviously this was before I committed, but [he told me] if I had gone there, it'd be my job to lose as starting quarterback," Doyle said of today's in-home visit. "He told us everything he envisioned going on at UMass, and I couldn’t pass it up. It felt right."
He continued, "He [Molnar] told me he wants me to come in and prepare to be the starter. He feels that if I'm equal...he didn’t say I have to be better, he told me 'If you're equal to the ability of the other guys, you're gonna get the shot. We want to play you, and you're only gonna get better'. He wants me start if I'm capable of starting, if I know the playbook.
"He didn’t say he wouldn’t rush it, but if I have to redshirt that's something he's willing to do. But he wants me to go in and compete for the starting job right away. If he feels I'm ready, they're gonna give me the keys to the car, so to speak."