York County bond helps York High lineman make commitment to Randy Edsall's UConn program

ROB ROSE
717-505-5418/@robrosesports
York High rising senior offensive lineman Joden Nelson announced his verbal commitment to the University of Connecticut on Tuesday.

Joden Nelson knew he was about to release some top-secret information on Twitter, but he never expected it would become a security threat.

The York High rising senior lineman was ready to tell the world about his college commitment, but he got locked out of his own account before he could.

Nelson had already told the University of Connecticut coaching staff that he was going to commit days ago, so they had started asking when he was going to post something.

So, once Nelson got the notification that his account was unlocked on Tuesday, he shared with his friends, family and fans the news that he wanted to keep a secret, but not for this long.

“The moment I got the email that I logged back into my Twitter account and my password had been recovered, I kid you not it took me maybe one minute to type up the tweet and post it,” Nelson said.

Solo session: Nelson received the offer from UConn under unusual circumstances. He was originally going to take part in a camp at the university with his Bearcats teammates, but ended up scheduling a solo session with nearly the entire UConn coaching staff during an unofficial visit.

In the days leading up to the workout and five-hour drive to the campus, Nelson battled some butterflies about stepping onto such a big stage with an opportunity to earn his first NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision offer. Once he got on the field and started to stretch, he settled into the situation and got locked in.

“It was really nerve-racking just to be out there and have so many eyes on me,” Nelson said. “As I was warming up I felt like the tension died down a little bit. I thought, ‘I’m here, I know what I have to do. It's just a regular practice, just with a couple more coaches.’”

York High rising senior lineman Joden Nelson poses for a photo. After being named a York-Adams League Division I second team all-star in 2020, Nelson has received seven NCAA Division I scholarship offers and recently committed to play at the University of Connecticut.

Bonding with Edsall: After the workout finished up, Nelson took a tour of the facility and was put through a test on the whiteboard by the coaches. Then Nelson and his parents headed into head coach's office belonging to Susquehannock High School graduate Randy Edsall.

They talked about several topics, but Nelson built a different type of bond with Edsall because of their similar backgrounds, compared to other college coaches he talked to. Something as simple as Edsall’s familiarity with the drive from UConn to York made him feel comfortable.

“It just felt a little bit more natural with coach, honestly,” Nelson said. “Just the way we could talk about everything like we had the same upbringing. We both come from York County (and) will be making the move to Connecticut, so it was almost like I didn't even have any questions to ask because he would cover it just talking about his past experiences before I even got a chance to break down any questions that I had.”

Connecticut offensive lineman Matt Peart (65) hugs Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall during senior day festivities before the start of an NCAA college football game against East Carolina Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, in East Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Stephen Dunn)

Edsall offered Nelson early on in the conversation and it shocked the 6-foot, 4-inch, 280-pound lineman and his parents. Nelson had received his other six offers over the phone or on Zoom, so to get a full scholarship to play NCAA D-I football while sitting next to his parents made the moment even more special, since he saw the joy on their faces.

Nelson and his parents agree on Huskies: Between the connection with Edsall and the amazement he felt toward the facilities at the university, Nelson was hooked, and so were his parents.

“Both my parents said on the way back home that they wouldn't mind sending me there for the next four years and they would become like my new guardians,” Nelson said. "It’s almost perfect that I'll be living there. They said that by just talking with them the whole day, they can tell that they can trust them with me.”

In his first season with York High as a junior in 2020 after transferring from West York, Nelson was a York-Adams League Division I second-team all-star offensive lineman. He was part of a group that helped running back Jahiem White rush for a league-best 1,332 yards.

Nelson joins a UConn program that struggled in recent years. The Huskies are a football independent, but did not play in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the three previous years under Edsall, UConn was 6-30. It's Edsall second coaching stint with the Huskies.

Now, Nelson and Edsall are hoping to turn around UConn's fortunes.

Excitement about his commitment: After days of waiting to tell the world where he was going to spend the next four years, the time finally came for Nelson to share with everyone that he was joining the Huskies.

Once Nelson got access to his Twitter account he was able to enjoy the explosion of excitement about his commitment. He posted his news, put his phone downstairs to go get a bottle of water and returned to a screen full of notifications, which included a ton of new followers from Connecticut.

The recruiting process had officially ended and Nelson started to feel what it would be like to enter the UConn family, even though he actually had been committed for a few days already.

“It was definitely a surreal experience to be able to have that little moment right there,” Nelson said. "I just tweeted that out and came back to my phone to so much love and support from people I hadn't met before. It's definitely one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and experiences.”

Reach Rob Rose at rrose@yorkdispatch.com.