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Takeaways from UConn Football National Signing Day

Edsall discussed the newest members of the program on Wednesday, what did we learn?

Ian Bethune - The UConn Blog

With National Signing Day on Wednesday, UConn football head coach Randy Edsall was finally allowed to talk about his first recruiting class in his second go-around in Storrs.

Here are the biggest takeaways from his press conference:

Bryant Shirreffs will return for his senior season

In non-recruiting news, Edsall confirmed that the former starter would indeed be returning for his final season of eligibility.

Shirreffs seemed good as gone after the previous regime decided to go with Donovan Williams as the quarterback of the future, meaning Shirreffs would have to go elsewhere to if we wanted to start.

But with a new coaching staff, the quarterback position once again will have an open competition and Shirreffs decided to stay to be a part of it. This gives the Huskies three realistic options at quarterback: Shirreffs, Donovan Williams and junior college transfer David Pindell.

“I’m a firm believer that it all starts under the center,” said Edsall. “You have to have somebody there that can pull the trigger.”

The Huskies added two freshmen passers as well with great potential in Jordan McAfee and Marvin Washington, a UCF flip who made his decision on Signing Day.

The biggest weaknesses were directly addressed

If it seemed like this recruiting class was heavy in a few positions, namely offensive line and defensive back, which was no accident.

“When we got here, we evaluated as much of the tape of the current team as we could to see where we were with our roster, but also take a look at where the needs would be for this class,” said Edsall.

Adding to a position group which has been a liability for years, the coaching staff signed four offensive linemen.

“We were able to go out and really get some quality offensive lineman, which I thought was a priority for us in this class,” Edsall said.

The Huskies also struggled replacing Andrew Adams in the secondary last season and will also need to replace Obi Melinfonwu and Jhavon Williams. Edsall and his staff brought in six defensive back to help strengthen the back of the defense.

While these players likely won’t make an immediate impact, it puts the roster in good position for depth at those key positions moving forward.

True freshmen will have the chance to start

It’s rare for a true freshman to come in and play in their first season at the college level, but Randy Edsall isn’t ruling anything out.

“[Recruits] would ask about redshirting and I told them, ‘Redshirting is up to you. I don’t make that decision. I watch what you do then I decide from the end of August if we’re leaning that way to redshirt you,’” said Edsall.

The coach was asked specifically if any of the offensive lineman in the class could start due to the struggles of the unit over the past few seasons. He named a few who he thought could play right off the bat.

“Robert Holmes, he could have a chance physically and strength wise. Ryan Van Demark, he’s a big, broad-shoulder guy. He’ll be 300 pounds easily before all is said and done. James Tunstall, he’s another guy that has size and good athletic ability.”

While these players have the size to play, that’s only part of the equation.

“How quickly can they master the fundamentals the techniques, our terminology and all those things?” said Edsall. “That’s the hard part for those guys.”

Another player to watch is safety Omar Fortt, who’s already at UConn. Now, he can practice with the team in the spring which gives him a better chance to play come September.

“I always use the saying ‘The closer you are to the football the harder it is to play early, but further away you are from the football, the better opportunity you have to play early,” said Edsall.

As a safety, Fortt couldn’t get further away from the football, and it’s a position of serious need. He could end up even moving to corner later in his career the way Byron Jones did.

Addressed the Ryan Dickens situation...sort of

When Randy Edsall revoked Ryan Dickens’ scholarship offer, it ignited a national firestorm that was ridiculous and completely overblown. While the coach couldn’t mention Dickens specifically, he defended the move.

“You try and make the best decision for the program and what you think is best,” he explained. “Sometimes when that happens, people don’t agree with you.”