On November 11, Jim Mora was named the head football coach at UConn with 3 games left in the season for the Huskies. In an unusual move, he joined the coaching staff as an Assistant Coach immediately in order to allow him to begin hitting the recruiting trail in an effort to begin the Husky rebuild ASAP. Just 2 months later and a wave of recruits committed, Mora is already making a statement with his ability to turn this program around. What’s that I see? It’s a glimmer of hope for the floundering UConn Huskies football program.
In his short time at the helm, Mora has brought in 17 recruits, 13 who have signed letters of intents, 3 transfers, and 1 top QB who just committed this week but has not officially signed. He began by doing exactly what he promised, keeping CT high school prospects in-state. Of the 13 signees, 5 are from CT which has become a surprisingly solid breeding ground for college football players over the years, most of whom have historically gone elsewhere for college. Once Mora brought in some local talent, he turned his attention to some top names other places in the country, mainly Florida, which has been a hotbed for UConn over the years and has a massive number of high school prospects each year.
Of the non-transfers who have committed, 8 are 3-star prospects (according to ESPN) and the top 2 in the class, DE Donovan Branch from Winter Garden, FL and QB Zion Turner from Fort Lauderdale, FL (just committed this week) are two of the highest graded prospects to commit to UConn in a very long time. Turner is a 78 according to ESPN and an 87.42 according to 247sports and a dual-threat in the backfield. According to 247sports, Turner is the 9th highest ranked recruit of all time for UConn and the highest since 2013. Most amazingly, he turned down offers from big schools like LSU, Maryland, Miami, Texas A&M, and Pittsburgh to become a Husky. Turner will join Penn State transfer QB Ta’Quan Roberson and Northern Arizona transfer QB Cale Millen (began at Oregon) in a room that already has a promising talent in QB Tyler Phommachanh, who unfortunately had his season cut short in 2021 due to injury and may miss the beginning of 2022.
The edge-rush talent of DE Donovan Branch should help anchor the defensive line and force opposing QBs into more rushed decisions. A strong pass-rush will be critical if the defense is to have success, because last season the opposition had plenty of time to make the right read and they gave up way too many big plays. Mora did also sign CB D’Mon Brinson who is a 78.92 according to 247sports and S Derek Spearman who is a 81.04, so a focus on adding secondary depth is there. The Huskies could really use some more top talent on defense if they want to be competitive. One of the remaining 3-star recruits considering UConn is the #8 Junior College CB, Cortez Eatmon, who would be a great piece for the Husky defense.
Just 2 months into his tenure, Mora has improved the UConn recruiting outlook over the previous year. According to 247sports, UConn’s recruiting class is ranked 101 (114th in 2020), 4th amongst independents (5th in 2020) and an average recruit rating of 82.06 (81.43 in 2020) and things are far from over. According to ESPN, there are 9 3-star recruits still considering UConn, including 6 rated as 75+. If UConn can secure a few more 3-star recruits, this class will continue to rise in the rankings and at very least get the fanbase excited for the 2022 season. There is finally real reason for optimism about football in Storrs, CT.