Edsall declares second football signing period a success

Storrs — UConn football coach Randy Edsall completed his shopping for recruits on Wednesday.

Five more future Huskies signed their letters of intent, joining the 19 others that committed during the early signing period on Dec. 20.

Edsall crossed off nearly everything on his wish list.

"We had a plan as we went into the second signing (period) and I thought we accomplished the things that we needed to accomplish," Edsall said. "Then when you add these five outstanding young men and student-athletes to the family and put together with the 19 that we signed previously, I really feel good that we addressed as many of the needs as we could.

"We weren't going to be able to take care of all the needs this year because of the numbers limitations that we had."

The newest recruits include two defensive backs, an offensive lineman, defensive lineman and a running back. They come from recruiting hotbeds in Texas, Florida, Georgia and Maryland.

The overall 24-member incoming class represents an upgrade in athleticism, speed and playmaking ability, according to Edsall, who added that there will be opportunities for them to play right away.

Edsall also likes the fact that several of his future Huskies are multi-sport high school athletes.

"I think our coaches did a tremendous job of evaluating these guys and finding out about them and knowing what we look for and what fits for us," he said. "The other thing is I like these guys because they're workers and wanted to be here. They want to make a difference.

"They want to do everything that they can to get this program back to where we once had it. Again, just a bunch of guys that you felt good being around through the process and talking to their coaches and people in their communities.

"They're the right kind of guys for us. Guys that do it the right way and willing to work. ... I'm really pleased and really happy with these guys. And I really just can't wait for the rest of them to get here so we can start working with them."

Edsall added he would consider adding a graduate transfer if it would fill a need. He already was contacted by a couple on Wednesday.

In Edsall's first season since returning for his second coaching stint in Storrs, UConn finished 3-9. The Huskies have made strides since the end of the regular season.

"The attitude is a lot different," Edsall said. "About 180 degrees different. I really like what I'm seeing. Those kids did a good job, too, hosting these young men."

Here's Edsall's breakdown of Wednesday's signees:

• Christian Haynes, 6-foot-4, 295-pound OL, Bowie H.S. (Md.): Three-year starter and two-time captain ... named team MVP as a senior. ... played in the Maryland Crab Bowl, an annual all-star game that features top talent in Mid-Atlantic Region.

Edsall: "Just a really good kid, a really good athlete. He's a strong powerful young man who's very versatile and would have the opportunity to play probably just about any of the spots up front. ... He'll just continue to grow and continue to get better."

• Dante Black, 5-10, 200-pound RB, Brookwood H.S. (Lilburn, Ga.): All-state selection ... rushed for 1,927 yards with school-record 36 touchdowns last fall while piling up 2,295 all-purpose yards.

Edsall: "Might not be a more productive player that we've recruited in the time that I've been here on both occasions. ... When you watch him play on film, you see all those combinations that you like in a running back. He's got really good vision. He's got ability to make people miss. He's got a really good burst, a good jump cut. To me, he possesses all the things that you want in a running back."

• Jalon Ferrell, 6-2, 177-pound DB, Killian H.S. (Miami, Fla.): Had 33 tackles, one interception and one kick return for a touchdown in 2017. ... also competes in track and field.

Edsall: "He's a guy that's really a physical, tough, aggressive safety that also has the ability to be a return guy, so he has a lot of value in special teams as well as on defense. ... He has a lot of confidence. Just very, very happy to have him."

• Messiah Turner, 6-1, 198-pound DB, Tampa (Fla.) Catholic: Made 54 tackles, four interceptions, returning one for a touchdown, forced five fumbles and registered two sacks last season. ... was selected to play in Hillsborough County All-Star game ... also played basketball for four years.

Edsall: "I had an opportunity to watch him play basketball. ... I like being able to get out and watch guys play other sports because I think you can find out some things. This guy is a very smooth operator from the standpoint that he moves very, very gracefully. He's a guy that really anticipates things extremely well. You could tell that he's a leader on the field. ... He could be a corner or safety. He's also a guy that could play in the nickel, a lot like (former Husky) Reggie McClain."

• Pierce DeVaughn, 6-4, 230-pound DL, Prestonwood Christian (Plano, Texas): Was a second team all-state selection last fall and first team academic for team which reached the TAAPS 6A state championship game.

Edsall: "A young man that I think has got tremendous, tremendous upside. ... When you put the tape on, he's a guy that just has some natural ability that you don't teach. When you watch his game tape and see some of the things that he can do, the way he can bend and dip, and he does it full speed and never stops. There's guys playing in the NFL that can't do that. ... This was a steal, in my opinion."

g.keefe@theday.com

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