STORRS - Randy Edsall got his first extended, up-close look at what David Pindell can do as a quarterback over the weekend, but the UConn football coach was already impressed with some of the junior college transfer’s abilities as the Huskies entered training camp.
“He’s very cool under pressure,” Edsall said Friday of Pindell, who joined the Huskies from Lackawanna College in Scranton, Penn., in the offseason. “Watching him on film and observing some things, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a guy get the ball out of his hands so quickly.”
The 6-foot, 190-pound Pindell could well be the Huskies’ starting quarterback when the season begins Aug. 31 against Holy Cross, though there’s a long way to go before then. The Husky players reported for training camp only Thursday and will hit the practice field for the first time Saturday.
Senior Bryant Shirreffs and sophomore Donovan Williams are the other Huskies most likely to start under center this season, though none of the coaches have identified candidates or favorites at this point.
Edsall, however, certainly had plenty of positive things to say about his junior from Columbia, Md.
“It seems to me as if people have already started to gravitate to him,” the coach said of Pindell.
UConn, under the direction of new offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, has been installing a new offense for the upcoming season. Each of those contending for the starting job seems to relish the opportunity to lead the group.
“In JUCO and in high school, I always ran an up-tempo offense. I can say I’ve never been in a huddle before,” Pindell says with a smile.
Shirreffs, who had been UConn’s starter for nearly two years before ex-coach Bob Diaco opted to go with Williams down the stretch in 2016, was certainly glad to see Lashlee arrive.
“It’s awesome. I love this offense,” Shirreffs said. “As far as my skill set, that’s for other people to judge. But I feel like I’m comfortable running the offense and it’s a lot of fun.”
UConn had an inordinate amount of trouble moving the ball and scoring points in the latter stages of 2016, leading to six straight losses and the change in the coaching staff.
“We’re trying to change the identity or the reputation they’ve had here on offense,” said Lashlee, adding that in a quarterback he’s searching for “a leader, a guy who can make plays, and protect the ball.”
As much as Shirreffs, Pindell and Williams, along with sophomore Brandon Bisack and freshmen Jordan McAfee and Marvin Washington, compete for the same job every day, they also seem to bond. It seems the Husky quarterbacks have a true affinity for one another at this point.
“I have to say I like everyone. You have to say that. But genuinely I really do,” Shirreffs says with a laugh.
“Everybody wants to be ‘the guy.’ But when we can get to the point, and we’ll see in camp how it is, when everyone is looking out for everyone’s best interests just for the sake of winning, it’ll make it so much more fun,” Shirreffs added.
St. Paul’s Pryor transfers in
Ben Pryor, a 6-0, 188-pound redshirt freshman cornerback from St. Paul, was recently announced as part of the 2017 UConn roster after transferring from Sacred Heart. He’s listed as a defensive back.
Pryor made a name for himself with the Falcons during his senior year in 2015 as a running back, becoming St. Paul’s second-leading single-season rusher in school history with 1,622 yards.
He had planned to switch back to wide receiver in college, the position he played in high school up until his senior season, but he never played with Sacred Heart.
In addition to Pryor, the Huskies added seven other new players to the roster recently, including a much-needed punter in Australian native Luke Magliozzi.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound native of Westmeadows, Australia, won’t join the team officially until later this week, but could still be the team’s starting punter.
“There’s been a lot of good history with Australian punters coming over to the states and doing very well,” Edsall said.
Edsall coached an Australian punter in Adam Coles during his first stint with the Huskies, and also coached kicker Brad Craddock at Maryland.
The remaining six newcomers to the UConn roster are: Kyle Buss, a 5-10, 190-pound junior wide receiver who transferred from Robert Morris; Jarrell Chaney, a 6-2, 180-pound freshman wide receiver from Albany; Kevin Mensah, a 5-9, 200-pound freshman running back from Cheshire; Zavier Scott, a 6-2, 200-pound freshman wide receiver from Fort Hood, Texas, via Germany; Carlton Steer, a 6-3, 260-pound junior defensive lineman from East Hartford who transferred from CCSU; and Santana Sterling, a 6-2, 212-pound junior linebacker from Mesa (Arizona) Community College.