UConn Signs 21 Recruits

Three In-State Players to be Huskies

Connecticut received commitments Wednesday from 21 recruits as the school attempts to build on its second bowl win and third bowl appearance in five seasons.

The class is led by wide receiver Dwayne Difton from Florida and Leon Kinnard, a quarterback from Maryland.

Difton is a 6-foot-1 speedster from St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale, one of the nation's top high school programs, and was rated the 39th best senior receiver in the nation by Rivals.com. He backed out of a verbal commitment to South Florida last summer.

"He's fast, he's quick. He's not as big as maybe some of the guys, but he's a guy who can make plays, he's got tremendous speed," said UConn coach Randy Edsall. "I was even more excited once I watched him work out and watched him practice. He was very very impressive."

Kinnard is a 5-foot-9 dual threat quarterback from Loyola Blakefield High School just outside Baltimore.

His grandfather worked with Edsall's father in the same steel mill in western Pennsylvania. But Edsall said that didn't factor into the recruiting process.

Kinnard has said he chose UConn over Maryland, Boston College and West Virginia, because the Huskies told him they will give him a shot at quarterback, while the other schools wanted to move him to receiver or defensive back.

"Leon's a quarterback until he comes to me and tells me he doesn't want to be a quarterback," Edsall said.

UConn also signed a second quarterback, 6-3 Michael Box from Suwanee, Ga.

"Both quarterbacks can throw the football and maneuver in pocket," Edsall said. "They are both athletes and they can do the things we want them to do."

The Huskies also have commitments from a couple of top in-state players: Mike Osiecki, 6-2 linebacker from Seymour, and Marcus Aiken, a receiver from St. Paul Catholic in Bristol, one of four receivers in the class.

Osiecki was named the Gatorade state player of the year, and said he chose UConn because it was close to home.

The class also includes Trevardo Williams, a defensive end from Bridgeport who originally signed with UConn last year but went to a prep school instead. He signed again, and is already enrolled at Connecticut.

The class includes recruits from 10 states and Canada. Five players come from Pennsylvania. The Canadian is Jesse Joseph, a linebacker from Lavel, Quebec who went to the same prep school as UConn offensive lineman Moe Petrus. He also is already enrolled in Storrs.

Difton, Kinnard and Aiken and the rest of the offensive players arrive as UConn begins revamping its offense under new coordinator Joe Moorhead, who has promised to bring a more open style from Akron, where his offense averaged more than 30 points per game.

UConn averaged under 140 yards per game through the air last season.

Edsall said most of the incoming class will likely redshirt, but he said they all will be given a chance to prove themselves.

"Wide receiver is probably a position where there is a little bit more opportunity, but still, if there is a guy that comes in and shows he's above the other people, than he's going to play."

The Huskies finished the 2008 season 8-5, including a 38-20 win over Buffalo in the International Bowl.

"I think this class is better than last year, I think it's more athletic we have more speed. I think every year we've been able to upgrade where we are at," Edsall said.

Several other top state players announced their college plans Wednesday. New London quarterback Jordan Reed is headed to Florida. Bunnell wide receiver Mark Harrison is going to Rutgers and Northwest Catholic tight end Jake Golic will join his brother Mike at Notre Dame, where their father, former NFL lineman Mike Golic Sr., played.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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