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Amid transfers and ex-player criticism, UConn athletic director David Benedict voices support for Randy Edsall

UConn athletic director David Benedict once again expressed confidence in football coach Randy Edsall on Sunday, despite a wave of transfers out of the program and vocal criticism from some former players.

“Randy’s the right guy,” Benedict said of the Susquehannock High School graduate. “I’m not saying that everyone has to share the same opinion or have the same level of confidence in Coach Edsall that I do, but he has to be given the time to build the program. You can’t do it in three years.”

Benedict said he is not willing to fire a third straight coach after only three seasons.

“I believe Randy has got to have five recruiting classes before you can truly evaluate his program,” the athletic director said, indicating Edsall has relative job security through at least the 2021 season.

Wave of transfers: After finishing 2-10 in 2019, at least 15 players are planning to transfer. Many of those transfers were reserves who scarcely played during their time in Storrs, but others, such as safety Tyler Coyle, cornerback Tahj Herring-Wilson and center Nino Leone, were regular starters.

On Saturday, quarterback Mike Beaudry became the latest player to join the exodus, thanking Edsall and other coaches, as well as teammates who “welcomed me as a family.”

Benedict noted that transfers had risen nationally, not just at UConn, due to NCAA rules changes but said he would work with Edsall to evaluate why so many players had left the Huskies.

“Obviously, yeah, you pay attention to it. You ask questions, and you talk about it,” he said. “And, certainly, we’ll be evaluating that.”

Some ex-players critical of Edsall: In the wake of the transfers, several recently graduated former players have weighed in, often critically, about their experiences under Edsall.

Former UConn cornerback Jamar Summers tweeted that he was “casted out & portrayed to my brothers & fan base as if I was the worst player” and that he was once asked to cut his dreadlocks. Another ex-Huskies defensive back, John Robinson IV, said on his personal podcast that Edsall had alienated players recruited by former coach Bob Diaco.

Asked about Summers’ charge that he was asked to cut his hair, Benedict said Edsall abides by the program’s guidelines, which recommend hair be “kept neat for maintaining an appropriate appearance and safety.”

Benedict said he hadn’t listened to Robinson’s podcast.

As for the general sentiment among ex-players: “There’s always going to be people that have things to say about their own experience, and you try to evaluate those,” Benedict said. “You obviously want every student-athlete that’s here to have a positive experience, but unfortunately it doesn’t always happen.”

Many of transfers weren't recruited by Edsall: Of about 15 players who have announced plans to transfer this offseason, all but a few were originally recruited by Diaco, who was fired after the 2016 season. Edsall has often spoken of his desire to bring in his own recruits, which has seemed to bother players from previous regimes.

“It is a fact that the majority of the kids that are transferring were not recruited by Randy and his staff," Benedict said. "Is that the lone reason? I don’t think so, but certainly that’s a part of it.”

On his podcast, “BallTalk w/ JRob,” Robinson said Diaco-recruited Huskies sometimes texted each other clips of press conferences at which Edsall would talk about filling the roster with his own players.

“It kind of just seemed like one guy’s kids that were recruited were getting replaced by another guy’s,” said Robinson, who left UConn in the winter of 2017. “I think there was a divide: It was Edsall vs. Diaco.”

Benedict said he had not spoken to departing football players but had met with current players and would continue to do so.

Linear TV deal likely coming: Benedict said UConn had not yet reached an agreement on a football television deal.

“Still working on it," Benedict said. "Nothing to announce at this point in time. But I’m very confident we’ll wind up in a place where we’ll have linear TV.”

UConn’s decision to compete as an independent beginning next summer means the school must negotiate its own football TV agreements.

Benedict has previously mentioned SNY as a potential television home for Huskies football, and network president Steve Raab said earlier this year that he’d be open to a deal as well.

Huskies land two more recruits: Three more high school football players have committed to UConn in recent days, making 17 in the Huskies’ 2020 class.

Desmond Fogle, an inside linebacker from Camden County, Ga., announced his commitment Sunday morning on Twitter, only hours before Quay Evans, a defensive tackle from Chester, S.C., did the same. Austin Reeves, an offensive lineman from Lake Norman, NC. followed Sunday afternoon.

Fogle also had offers from Savannah State and Campbell, while Evans chose UConn over Maryland and North Carolina, among others. Reeves had recently de-committed from Elon.

Benedict said UConn was expecting to announce “16 or 17” commitments Dec. 18. on National Signing Day.

UConn’s class currently ranks No. 102 nationally and No. 11 in the AAC, according to 247Sports.

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