Signing Day Wrap-Up - Huskies Add Speed

Sometimes you've got to wonder if Randy Edsall checks the various recruiting sites and just laughs. Try as they might, no one can quite pin him down when he's out searching for talent to bring to UConn. Wednesday was no different. At National Signing Day ceremonies at Rentschler Field, Edsall introduced the 23 newest Huskies --- five of whom weren't on anyone's list of oral commitments leading up to the big day.

That's always been the case with Edsall, and the eighth-year coach repeated his familiar early-February mantra for everyone who spends too much time gazing at stars next to the names of recruits on recruiting sites.

"The ratings and all that, that stuff never bothers me," Edsall said, "because we're going to make our evaluation. You can go back and you can see things. There's guys that get rated so highly coming out of high school and they never pan out. They're duds. And there's a lot of guys that are a little bit hungrier."

So, to follow Edsall's cautionary statement, if you've never heard of linebackers Mike Cox and Corey Stringer, cornerback Darren McKahn, or linemen Alex Polito and Mathieu Olivier, you can rest assured that Edsall and his staff have, and they like what they've seen from those under-the-radar types.

"They're very highly thought of in our minds," Edsall said, "and that's all that matters."

No one, perhaps, is held in higher esteem by the UConn coach than cornerback Jamie Nixon out of New Haven. Nixon is most highly acclaimed recruit to have signed a letter of intent Wednesday, and Edsall agrees with the recruiting sites' assessment of the Hyde Leadership School's talents.

"In my opinion," said Edsall, who plans to use Nixon solely as a cornerback, "he's the best player in the state."

Joining Nixon and staying in-state to continue their football careers are linebacker Scott Lutrus of Brookfield and lineman Zach Hurd of Watertown.

"Those were the three that we really went after," said Edsall, who won't know until at least August whether Hurd and another lineman, Polito, will play offense or defense. "They all fulfill what we're looking for."

During the 45-minute conference with the Connecticut media, Edsall got a chance to extoll the virtues of many of his signees --- the reward for being made to wait until Wednesday to talk about specific recruits, as the NCAA mandates.

Edsall called wide receiver Brad Kanuch "a little but of a buster. He wanted to participate in track, which he will, and be his own person."

Punter Desi Cullen is known as the "Kentucky Hammer," Edsall said, because of his willingness to get involved in the play after he has kicked the ball. Edsall said Cullen will get the chance to punt and kick off in the fall, freeing up Matt Nuzie to concentrate on field goals and extra points.

McKahn, according to Edsall, is "high-wired." McKahn does a perfect imitation of Deion Sanders' celebratory dance, Edsall said, and didn't get the notoriety he deserved because he plays in Florida.

"A lot of guys get overlooked because of the number of people who play football there," Edsall said.

Edsall said the 2006 class is fast and athletic with a number of players who could play special teams right away. Martin Bedard and Derek Rich will vie for the long snapper's job, while Kanuck, Nixon, and Kevin Poles, among others, could develop into quality return men in a hurry.

While Edsall did say Wednesday held no surprises, it should be noted that defensive end Shawn Lemon of Waldorf, Md., apparently reneged on his oral commitment to UConn and now is choosing between Akron and Cincinnati, according to Lemon's high school coach. Edsall had nothing to say about Lemon.

"Not on our list," he said.

Defensive back Stormy Butler, the brother of budding star Darius Butler, and offensive lineman Kindly Jacques might be headed for prep school, Edsall said. In addition, Nixon and linebacker Jarvis Hicks have yet to pass the SAT.

But even if all 23 players don't arrive at UConn this summer, Edsall was pleased Wednesday with his haul.

"The biggest thing is, we were able to attract more speed and athleticism, even with the linemen," Edsall said.

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