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UConn football inks preferred walk-ons and transfers to start February signing period

The Huskies filled out their 2023 roster with experienced players and some depth pieces, including a few Connecticut high school stars.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Jim Mora and the rest of the UConn football staff remain hot on the recruiting trail entering the month of February, gaining nine new additions to the 2023 squad through preferred walk-ons and the transfer portal.

The Huskies’ busy winter period culminated on February 1, signing day for the remainder of the class.

Here’s a rundown of the signings:


Five transfers who had previously committed to UConn are now officially signed with the school. That group includes three defensive backs, Zakhari Spears (who committed in mid-December), Noah Plack from Delaware, Mumu Bin-Wahad from West Virginia University, as well as Richmond defensive lineman Ray Eldridge and Maine quarterback Joseph Fangano.

Jalen Mitchell (RB), Louisville

Even with the emergence of Devontae Houston and Victor Rosa as quality running back options in 2022, UConn football still has a Nate Carter-sized hole in the backfield heading into the 2023 season after he transferred to Michigan State.

Louisville transfer Jalen Mitchell is here to help fill that gap. He was the program’s leading rusher in 2021, carrying the ball 154 times for 726 yards and five touchdowns on the year before sustaining a leg injury in 2022 that knocked him out of the mix.

He has a big body and, although he’s not the most explosive rusher, can break tackles and pound the rock every snap. Mitchell was a three-star recruit in the class of 2019 from Rockledge High School in Florida and will have two years of eligibility remaining to make an impact on the UConn rushing game.

Geordon Porter (WR), New Mexico

UConn football’s second transfer announced this week has the potential to make an impact on the receiving corps as soon as he steps on campus: New Mexico’s leading receiver, Geordon Porter.

Porter transferred to the Lobos after three years at Arizona State where he never really got traction but hit his stride in the Mountain West in 2022. Playing for one of only four FBS programs that threw the ball less than 260 times all year, Porter accounted for nearly 25% of the team‘s 1,259 passing yards in 2022.

Porter also doubled as a kick returner for the Lobos, and his impressive 4.32 40-yard dash tabs him as a dangerous return and downfield threat for the Huskies, something they did not have much of last year.

Amir Renwick (DB) - Coffeyville Community College

Renwick is a 6-foot-25, 210 defensive back who offers UConn still more depth at that position as the fourth new addition to that area of the field this offseason. The Coffeyville Community College transfer held offers from a laundry list of Power 5 schools, including Colorado, Washington State, and Nebraska before choosing the Huskies.

Preferred Walk-Ons

Other than the transfers, UConn football also made an effort to recruit locally, bringing in seven preferred walk-on commits from the northeast, including five from the state of Connecticut:

John Neider (QB/ATH) - Law High School, Milford, Connecticut

UConn kept the Connecticut Gatorade Player of the Year home for the second straight season, securing the signature of the star quarterback from Milford. Neider started his high school career as a receiver, but ended it as one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the state, passing for 1728 yards and 20 touchdowns and adding 1,153 yards and 15 on the ground in 2022.

Listed as an athlete, Neider could feature at any number of positions on the UConn squad, at quarterback, returning to his previous position at receiver, bulking up to be a tight end, or potentially even playing on defense.

Danny Shaban (ATH) - Joel Barlow High School, Redding, Connecticut

From Redding, Connecticut, Shaban led Joel Barlow to a storybook 10-2 season and a Class SS state title with 2788 all-purpose yards and 46 touchdowns as starting quarterback.

Howard Simpson (LB) - Bloomfield High School, Bloomfield, Connecticut

Like Shaban, Simpson’s Bloomfield High School made it all the way to the state championship (albeit in Class LL, ultimately falling to Ansonia). Simpson has a great frame for a college linebacker at 6-foot-5 and used that to his advantage with 56 tackles through 11 games played. With his size, a transition to linebacker could be on the cards.

Teddy Williams (ATH) - Salisbury School, Salisbury, Connecticut

Williams was a Class S State Champion with Cromwell/Portland in 2021 and spent this past season at Salisbury, where he saw time at receiver, running back, and linebacker.

Chase Fountain (ATH) - Kingswood Oxford School, West Hartford CT

Fountain transferred to Kingswood Oxford after attending Conard High School in West Hartford for the 2019 season, playing both sides of the ball on varsity for three years as a running back, receiver, and defensive back, earning an all-NEPSAC selection his senior year.

Frank Daniley (RB/LB) - New Hampton School, New Hampton, New Hampshire

Daniley is another Connecticut native staying home for college, originally hailing from New Haven before transferring to New Hampton School in New Hampshire.

Seth Turner (K/P) - Great Valley High School, Malvern, Pennsylvania

Turner adds depth to the kicking unit as someone who can perform kicker and punter duties.

Zach Madison (WR/DB) - Northern Highlands High School, Allendale, New Jersey

Madison is a tall track athlete with the potential to be a difference-maker given his size and athleticism.

Cody Smith (DL/TE) - Shenendehowa High School, Clifton Park, New York

Smith is another local star joining the Huskies, albeit from a nearby state. With great size at 6-foot-5 and a well-respected work ethic, he could contribute on either side of the ball depending on how he develops in the coming years.