Big Day for UConn Football Recruits

Khaliel Rodgers still wants to make his college choice by the end of June. That makes this weekend an important one for him – and it means the Connecticut football staff wants to make a very good impression Sunday in Storrs.

Rodgers, the 6-foot-3, 310-pound offensive lineman from Elkton, Md., will be on the UConn campus Sunday with his team from the Eastern Christian Academy as competition takes place in a 7 on 7 tournament featuring 30 teams at UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni's camp.

Rodgers then will stick around for an unofficial visit to meet coaches, players, and to see the UConn campus. He was in Storrs for a camp in 2011 but said he only got a chance to see the football practice facility. Rodgers spoke on the phone with Pasqualoni and offensive coordinator George DeLeone on Thursday.

"I want to see more of the campus," Rodgers said. "They are going to show me around some more and I'm going to talk with Coach Pasqualoni."

Before traveling to UConn, Rodgers was scheduled to stop for a visit to the University of Maryland on Saturday. Rodgers, ranked by Scout.com as the No. 2 center in the Class of 2013, announced on Twitter last month that he had narrowed his choices to Auburn, Ole Miss, UCLA, Ohio State, West Virginia and UConn.

In a phone conversation Friday, he said those schools still comprise his "final six."

Last weekend Rodgers was visiting Auburn, along with Jahmere Irvin-Sills, a cornerback and teammate from Eastern Christian Academy, when that campus was rocked by the shooting tragedy that claimed the lives of two former Tiger football players and injured a current player.

Desmonte Leonard, 22, of Montgomery, Ala., turned himself in to police Tuesday after a lengthy manhunt. He faces three counts of capital murder and two assault charges in the shootings that reportedly occurred after a fight over a woman.

"I was still there," Rodgers said. "I was around the block, I wasn't actually at the scene. I was with my teammate and a couple of girls came by and knocked on the door and yelled that somebody was shot. We rushed to the scene and it was blocked off already.

"But when we first got there I knew for a fact that two [former players] were killed. They said an outsider came to a party. He was from Montgomery, not in the Auburn area. And things got out of hand."

Rodgers said he didn't feel threatened or in danger because of the incident.

"I talked to the coaches the next day," he said. "They were very worried about losing recruits because of this, but we were the only recruits down there at the time. Things like that can happen anywhere. That's not the worst thing I've seen or heard in my life.

"You have to be prepared for situations like that. That could happen anywhere, just like the Virginia Tech shootings. You never thought that would happen, but things happen."

Irvin-Sills, a cornerback, has committed to Auburn. Another teammate from Eastern Christian Academy, wide receiver Dhameer Bradley, committed to UConn on June 7. Bradley will be at UConn Sunday, along with Wendell Smallwood, a running back from the Elkton school who holds an offer from UConn. Bradley also plans on sticking around until Monday for an unofficial visit.

What's next for Rodgers? He's not sure. He is trying to schedule visits to Ohio State and West Virginia.

"But I don't see that happening right now. I'm just too busy and there are transportation issues," he said. "My decision date is still June 30. It may change again if I want to evaluate more schools. But right now it's still June 30." Teams from Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey will compete in the 7 on 7 event.


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