Pasqualoni signs 16 to first class at UConn

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HARTFORD, Conn. _ Connecticut coach Paul Pasqualoni says recruiting is like riding a bicycle, and after five years away from it, he has enjoyed peddling around the country.

Pasqualoni landed a class of 16 football recruits Wednesday, less than a month after joining the Huskies.

Most of those who committed to former coach Randy Edsall stayed with the program through the change to Pasqualoni and faxed in their letters of intent early on national signing day.

“When a coaching transition is made, I think you gotta do some convincing,” Pasqualoni said. “There’s a little convincing with almost everybody. But the coaches had done such a good job, and the University of Connecticut is such a good school, that I think they were hanging in there pretty good.”

The recruiting class includes highly touted quarterback Michael Nebrich from Burke, Va., who is already enrolled for the spring semester, and linebacker Jefferson Ashiru, from Powder Springs, Ga.

Running backs Deshon Foxx from Lynchburg, Va. and Max DeLorenzo of Berlin will add depth after junior running back Jordan Todman declared for the NFL draft.

Pasqualoni also received commitments from two corners, a free safety and a strong safety.

“We actually signed an entire secondary,” he said, “which is always exciting to bring that group in and watch them grow as we move through this.”

The Huskies are coming off their first BCS appearance, a 48-20 loss to Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Edsall left to coach Maryland a day after the loss, which ended a five-game winning streak, and concluded an 8-5 season.

But Pasqualoni, hit the ground running, and his first class includes recruits from 10 different states, including four from Georgia.

“So many people were so receptive and made me feel so welcome,” he said. “I have always enjoyed visiting with high school coaches and talking about their programs and football.”

He said there are still a couple players the school is looking at, and a chance to add a recruit or two.

Pasqualoni, a former coach in the Big East at Syracuse, came to UConn with a strong endorsement from Connecticut’s high school coaches association, as well as those in New Jersey and New York. Those ties are expected to pay greater dividends with future recruiting classes, as just three recruits this year are from Connecticut.

Pasqualoni, 61, grew up in Cheshire, Conn., and was coach and athletic director at Western Connecticut from 1982-86. He coached at Syracuse for 14 years before moving to the NFL, working most recently as the Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator.

It was that experience that convinced many, including Ashiru, to stick with UConn.

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