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    UConn Football
    Wednesday, August 17, 2022

    Mora active in state and the transfer portal in announcing UConn's recruiting class

    UConn football coach Jim Mora speaks with the media during his introductory press conference last November at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)

    Storrs — There's a Revolution going on in Storrs.

    A Husky Revolution.

    At least that's what UConn football is trumpeting on social media as new head coach Jim Mora and his staff start the massive job of rebuilding the program.

    Every tweet about each member of the Mora's first recruiting class on Wednesday featured the hashtag #HuskyRevolution.

    During a signing day press conference at the Burton Family Football Complex, Mora was asked about the Husky Revolution.

    "It's an internal thing, not to be coy," Mora said. "It's kinda for the team. Now, we put it out there because the recruits hear it. But it's kinda our deal. ... It's really just a focus for us as a team, as a group of men."

    Anything to generate interest in UConn football is a good idea, considering the Huskies have suffered through 10 straight losing seasons, including going 4-32 dating back to 2018.

    What will really jump-start a Husky Revolution among the fan base is putting a competitive team on the field.

    Mora, who was hired in November, is already laying a foundation that he hopes will eventually lead to success. He announced the addition of 15 players, some from the high school ranks and some from the transfer portal.

    Thirteen players committed during the early signing period in December.

    "As we add this second group, it's going to turn out to be a successful class," Mora said.

    Mora gave a rundown of each player's strengths and position. The transfers are likely to make the biggest impact right away.

    Offensive lineman Gamaliel "Tres" Barboza (Texas El Paso), linebacker Marquez Bembry (Kentucky), wide receiver Nigel Fitzgerald (Old Dominion), offensive lineman Jake Guidone (Dartmouth), defensive lineman Sokoya McDuffie (ODU), offensive lineman Nikko Pohahau (Colorado), quarterback Ta'Quan Roberson (Penn State) and long snapper Tommy Zozus (Florida International) are strong and experienced additions.

    Running back Will Knight played at Delaware and Old Dominion and spent last season at Garden City Community College.

    "What we're looking for in all of these people is high character individuals, not just good football players," Mora said. "And guys that love to play football."

    Among the high school recruits, quarterback Zion Turner stands out. He led football powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida to three straight state titles and a national championship. His career totals: 4,951 passing yards and 59 touchdown passes.

    He has all the traits that Mora looks for in a quarterback. Plus, Turner is a winner.

    "He's a three-year starter at one of the premier programs in the country and he's 37-2 (in his St. Thomas Aquinas career)," Mora said. "As a football player playing quarterback, he's lost five games in his life. ... His personality is infectious."

    Mora also raved about in-state players Cam Edwards of Norwalk and Prince Samuels of Windsor.

    Edwards will play defensive back for the Huskies but rushed for 2,349 yards and scored 44 touchdowns during his Norwalk High School career.

    "He's a dynamic player," Mora said. "I've watched him a lot. ... We will start him out at safety. He's got unique ball skills. Cam's a ball magnet. He's got savvy. Just a great attitude. When he gets the ball in his hands, he can do things with it."

    Mora says Samuels, a Windsor High standout, can play a variety of positions. Samuels will start out as a linebacker. He was a first-team all-state selection as a defensive end, finishing with 70 tackles, 14 sacks and four forced fumbles.

    Samuels also plays basketball.

    "He's not played a lot of football in his life," Mora said. "He's primarily been a basketball player. He's got length. He's got athleticism. He's got a great attitude, great personality. He's a competitor. He loves to go against the best every single day."

    The work is just beginning for Mora and his staff.

    They'll continue to track players in the portal.

    "The portal is ever evolving," he said. "It's unbelievable, really, kids going in at any point in time. We think that in May after everyone has completed spring ball, there will be a whole new batch of kids entering the portal and we're going to be hunting high and low and trying to find young men that fit our profile, have the attributes that we're looking for and that are good football players that we can add to this team, add to this university and add to this state.

    "Right now, we're happy but not satisfied."

    Mora pointed out that it took more than the coaching staff's efforts to sign the recruiting class. He thanked all the football, academic and support staff as well as facility workers for doing their part.

    "It's just a big, gigantic collaborative effort by everyone on this campus," he said.

    g.keefe@theday.com

    LATEST UCONN SIGNEES

    UConn football coach Jim Mora announced the addition of 15 new players on Wednesday during the February signing period:

    Gamaliel "Tres" Barboza (6-4, 310) offensive lineman, San Antonio, Texas (UTEP transfer)

    Marquez Bembry (6-3, 242), linebacker, Stone Mountain, Ga. (Kentucky transfer)

    Isiah Davis (6-1, 190), defensive back, Fairburn, Ga.

    Camryn Edwards (5-10, 181), defensive back, Norwalk

    Nigel Fitzgerald (6-3, 210), wide receiver, Greensboro, N.C. (Old Dominion transfer)

    Jake Guidone (6-3, 300), offensive lineman, Westwood, Mass. (Dartmouth transfer)

    Matt Hoffman (6-4, 214), defensive lineman, Cheltenham, Pa.

    Will Knight (5-8, 213), running back, Smyrna, Del. (Garden City CC)

    Sokoya McDuffie (6-5, 310), defensive lineman, Florence, S.C. (Old Dominion transfer)

    Lee Molette III (6-3, 180), defensive back, Nashville, Tenn.

    Nikko Pohahau (6-5, 278), offensive lineman, Redwood City, Calif. (Colorado transfer)

    Ta'Quan Roberson (5-11, 197), quarterback, Orange, N.J. (Penn State transfer)

    Prince Samuels (6-3, 205), linebacker, Windsor

    Zion Turner (6-1, 195), quarterback, Overtown, Fla.

    Tommy Zozus (6-1, 240), long snapper, Punta Gorda, Fla. (FIU transfer)

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