Things have changed drastically for UConn Football in just over a month. When the latest recruiting period began on Jan. 12, UConn’s recruiting class was ranked below many FCS schools and was far behind where it needed to be.
While recruiting rankings should be taken with a grain of salt, there was no denying that Diaco was not doing the best job recruiting. Randy Edsall’s success since taking over has proven that.
In the 20 days that followed, Edsall secured 10 additional commitments, including many of the best in the class, including flipping quarterback Marvin Washington from UCF and athlete Robert King from Temple. He also secured David Williams, a graduate transfer who played running back at South Carolina, and a junior college quarterback who could start this year.
Edsall also added another Connecticut kid in the class in TJ Gardner. He is ranked No. 9 by Rivals in Connecticut and seven of the eight recruits ahead of him are going to ACC and Big Ten schools. The eighth is going to Notre Dame.
Gardner, listed at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, starred on both sides of the ball at a senior at Windsor High. Diaco and his staff attempted to recruit him, but he ended up committing to Boston College.
With the coaching change and the new staff, Edsall made contact with Gardner and got him to reconsider.
“That was a situation where we got in here and found out that he might have an interest in Connecticut,” Edsall said. “We contacted him. We pursued it.
“Then we got a phone call from him and he said he wanted to come up and he wanted to visit,” Edsall said. “We’re very happy because he is a quality football player, he is a quality person.”
Gardner, who will play defense for the Huskies, liked what he heard from the new staff.
“I just liked the chemistry they had, the energy they brought when they were talking in meetings,” Gardner said. “I had a previous interaction with some of the coaches, Coach Crocker at Villanova and Coach Whooley at Fordham. It just felt right for me.”
Gardner made visits to Boston College and UConn in consecutive weekends, choosing the Huskies for the feel.
“Being a Connecticut guy, it felt right for me to represent my home state,” Gardner said.