Dunn, UConn's new offensive coordinator, excited to be reunited with Edsall

Storrs — One day during football practice his senior year, John Dunn asked his high school coach a question.

The answer would set Dunn down a career path that eventually led him to being hired as the UConn's offensive coordinator.

"Do you get paid to do this?" Dunn said to his coach.

His coach responded, Yes.

"I remember going home saying, this is what I want to do, I want to coach," Dunn said on Tuesday.

Dunn, who would go on to play quarterback and tight end at North Carolina and then become a graduate assistant there, joined Randy Edsall's staff at UConn last month, filling the vacancy left by the departure of Rhett Lashlee.

He spent the last two seasons in the NFL, working on John Fox's staff in Chicago, first as an offensive quality control coach and then offensive assistant. Before that, he was on Randy Edsall's staff at Maryland, serving as tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator. Other college stops include LSU where he was a graduate assistant.

"I'm very excited to be back with coach (Edsall)," said Dunn, who'll also coach the quarterbacks. "We were together in Maryland for five years. I love what he stands for, love the program. When he called about his offer, I couldn't say yes fast enough. Extremely grateful to be here."

Edsall is happy to have Dunn back on his staff.

"He's very sharp, smart, really understands the game, understands how to utilize personnel to make us better," Edsall said. "I'm excited about it because I know what he brings to the table."

Dunn takes over an offense that underwent a transformation last season, improving from 122nd to 49th in the country in total offense and scored 105 more points than the previous season.

His offensive philosophy will be similar to last season's uptempo attack.

"The first premise of offense is this: we have to be able to do what our players can do," Dunn said. "That's something, as we watch them on tape and as they go through their winter workouts, we're trying to figure out.

"But, philosophically, we will be a no-huddle team. We're going to be able to use multiple formations and personnel grouping. Tempo is very important. We'll have the ability to go uptempo and have the ability to slow it down. ... Ultimately, for us, we have to do the things that you have to do on offense, which is block, run, catch, etc. As we figure out who we are, then we'll go in the direction that we need to go in order to move the football."

Dunn is the fourth UConn offensive coordinator in the last three years. But he doesn't see that as a negative.

"They've built a library in their own head where they've been exposed to a lot of football," Dunn said.

In the upcoming months before spring practice, Dunn will continue to familiarize himself with his players. From watching film of last year's games, he already can tell that there's talent on the perimeter.

Dunn just enjoys every day in the coaching profession.

"Coaching started out as a way for me to be around the game," Dunn said. "I love football and I love the Xs and Os and everything that goes into it. And it kind of transitioned for me at Maryland to where it's really about people. Then once you get hands on and realize you can have an affect on lives, it kind of changed for me.

"This isn't work, this is fun. We go up in a meeting and watch football and we come up with plays. ... You can't beat it."

g.keefe@theday.com

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