Signing Day Preview

What do you do when you're the coach of a Division I-A football team and you have 19 letters of intent in your "in" box and fewer than 19 scholarships available for the 2006 season?

Randy Edsall, in his eighth year at UConn, isn't going to worry about that today. It's national signing day, a Christmas reprise for college coaches everywhere, and Edsall wants to fill as many of his 25 stockings --- the maximum allowed by the Grinch known as the NCAA --- as he can.

"There's always attrition, some way, somehow," Edsall said in January about his 85-man roster of scholarship players. "I'm not worried about how many we have now. Let's just see what number we're at in August when it matters."

If everything goes according to plan overnight and this morning on the fax front, Edsall will be introducing at least 18 new players at a reception for season ticket holders at Rentschler Field in East Hartford late this afternoon.

Coming off a 5-6 season, UConn was expecting to lure in talent from as far away as Alabama (linebacker Lawrence Wilson) and Montreal (long snapper Martin Bedard), as well as three from within the state lines: offensive lineman Zach Hurd of Waterford, linebacker Scott Lutrus of Brookfield, and the pick of the litter, not just locally, but also on the national scene, cornerback/wide receiver James Nixon of Hamden. He is considered one of the 50 best incoming cornerbacks in the nation, according to and

Other hot commodities include Scotland, Pa., linebacker Greg Robinson, who gave an oral commitment to UConn over Virginia, Brad Kanuch, a top-40 wide receiver who shunned his brother and uncle at Penn State to declare in UConn's favor, and North Attleboro, Mass., safety Robert Vaughn, who shunned offers from two of UConn's peskiest Big Ten recruiting nemeses, Iowa and Wisconsin, to orally commit to the Huskies.

As is the case every first Wednesday in February, the new recruiting class will be bursting with anecdotes about how each player ended up in Storrs --- metaphysically, anyway, since no players actually will be on hand for today's festivities. And with the NCAA gag removed from his mouth as this recruiting season officially ends, Edsall finally will get to tell each player's tale.

Today's the day Edsall can explain why he chose to bring in yet another kicker --- Desi Cullen of Louisville --- despite already having two placekickers (veteran Matt Nuzie and mystery man Tony Ciaravino) and a punter (the underachieving Shane Hussar) on the roster. UConn must be among the national leaders in scholarship kickers, as most programs tend to go the walk-on route for depth at placekicking and punting.

Edsall also can give expound on whether Robert McClain is the second coming of Terry Caulley. They play the same position (running back) and come from the same high school (Patuxent in Lusby, Md.). One difference is unmistakable: At 5-10, McClain is 3 inches taller than the veteran Husky.

While he's at it, Edsall can provide more information on cornerback Darius Butler's little brother, Stormy, who either was going to sign a letter of intent or walk on as a defensive back.

Edsall didn't recruit a quarterback this season. Was it because he brought in two, Dennis Brown and Billy Cundiff, last February? Or because Duke's Gene Delle Donne is transferring and is scheduled to visit Storrs later this month?

Edsall also didn't recruit any defensive tackles. Did he run out of scholarships, or is he planning to move some defensive ends inside? Deon McPhee has graduated and John Baranowsky was kicked off the team in November, so depth is a factor.

The most nagging problem, though, is where 19 kids fit in after only 13 graduated and two --- running back Cornell Brockington, who decided to go pro, and tackle Craig Berry, who left for personal reasons --- quit the program.

There's always the chance that a recruit switched allegiances before he went to bed last night, though that would be a first for Edsall during his time at UConn. At least two players, Nixon and safety Jarvis Hicks, still aren't academically eligible, so that could clear up some space as well if they need prep work.

Today, however, the story is the new arrivals. In February, there's plenty of room for everybody on the UConn football roster.

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