In one of the most important days of the year for college football coaches, UConn Huskies head football coach Randy Edsall delivered with a quality first recruiting class that could make-or-break the next few years for the football program. As many as 19 high school and junior college players signed their letters of intent to enroll at UConn, along with a graduate transfer from South Carolina, and that number may still grow in the weeks to come as other graduate students could join the fold.
“I’m really pleased and happy with the group of young men that we were able to sign this morning,” Edsall said in his opening statements. “As we talk about them today, I think you’ll be impressed with the quality of the athleticism of these young men.”
One of the highest rated recruits the Huskies managed to sign for the 2017 season was Robert Holmes, a 6’4” 330-pound offensive lineman from Oxbridge Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, that could slot into the starting job very soon. Bringing in offensive linemen with size like that seemed to be a point-of-emphasis for Edsall, now in his second tenure in Storrs, as he also recruited 6’7” 260-pound Ryan Van Demark of Princeton, New Jersey.
“Robert Holmes, he could have a chance physically and strength-wise,” Edsall said of the young men’s potential to start. “Ryan Van Demark, he is a big, broad-shouldered guy. He’ll be a 300-pounder easily before it’s all said and done. A lot of it depends on how quickly some of these guys can pick things up.”
Two of the biggest signings UConn had Wednesday afternoon came in the form of junior college transfer QB David Pindell and graduate transfer Dave Williams from South Carolina. The two players, especially Williams, will come in with much more experience than the average recruit and more than likely will start immediately given their skill sets. Williams, in particular, has 4.4s speed and has faced great talent in the SEC, so he should be a great mentor to the younger guys in the locker room.
“We’re going to have an experienced running back [graduate transfer Dave Williams] coming in, somebody who has played in the SEC and shown his ability to be productive in a league of that nature and come here and be able to compete for us,” said Edsall.
Pindell, on the other hand, was a really big recruit for the program just based on his history of winning at a playing level higher than high school. Coach Edsall was effusive in his praise of the JUCO quarterback, both for the player’s composure and his skill set.
“David [Pindell] is just an outstanding young man,” “He went to Lackawanna and you know the competition at Lackawanna is a little bit better than in high school so he has that experience. The thing I like about it with him is that he was 10-1 as a starter. He’s a winner, he knows how to win and he’s also a guy that’s very calm in terms of how he handles himself and how he goes about his business. He has the ability to both run and throw and he’s a really good kid and a really good leader.”
Edsall and his staff also did an excellent job when it came to convincing student-athletes to take another look at UConn, after already committing elsewhere. The hard work to sell the school to players like T.J. Gardner from Windsor, Connecticut, and Marvin Washington from Orlando, Florida ultimately paid off. Edsall was able to convince the two players to de-commit from Boston College and UCF, respectively, and earn their educations at UConn instead. Washington, in particular, was an important signing as it hurt a conference rival in UCF, along with boosting the quality of the recruiting class.
“Marvin [Washington] was a young man that we got on late,” said Edsall. “[Offensive coordinator] Rhett [Lashlee] found out about him through a friend of his and knew that he was committed to UCF and then he decided to back out of that commitment. And we just got in the hunt with him, and we just tried to recruit him as hard as we could for the timeframe that we had.”
While there were no 4-star or 5-star recruits for the Huskies in this year’s National Signing Day, Coach Edsall put together a relatively good class in such a short time. Regardless, the number of stars next to the name isn’t always the best indication of a player’s ability to perform at the collegiate level and Edsall has been known to make 2- and 3-star recruits into NFL players. Ultimately, this class could be judged four or five years in the future as the class that put UConn football back on the map.
“We wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what we’ve accomplished in such a short period of time without the efforts of the staff,” said Edsall. “The staff did a tremendous job in really a two-week period to go out and evaluate these young men and then go out and sell the University of Connecticut to them and their families.”