E.J. Norris’s commitment to Connecticut showed that maybe there is hope for schools to land sought-after players even after a coaching change.
Before Randy Edsall left Connecticut to take over the Maryland football program, he and assistant Lyndon Johnson began recruiting the Carroll defensive end. They were impressed enough that they offered Norris a scholarship when they arrived in College Park.
Norris, though, was still intrigued by Connecticut, and when Paul Pasqualoni replaced Edsall in January, he and his staff stayed after Norris, and offered him scholarship three days after meeting him in early May.
Norris attended a camp at Connecticut two weeks ago, and saw, first-hand, much of what he thought the Huskies could provide him.
It’s easy to see why Connecticut – and other schools – are intrigued by Norris’s talent. After playing tight end for the majority of his high school career, Norris moved to defensive end last season, and Houchens said he was impressed by how quickly Norris attacked the run. Further, the 6-foot-4 Norris bulked up more than 20 pounds over the past year to 230.
“For someone who played defense for the first time,” Houchens said, “he’s showing that he’s got all the tools.”
Expect more recruiters to be swinging by Carroll. Senior lineman Derrick Nelson has 15 offers, according to Houchens, who added that Rutgers and Georgia Tech have been Nelson’s most aggressive pursuers. Houchens said he doesn’t expect the 6-5, 280-pounder to make a decision before the early part of the season.
And perhaps the biggest recruit to come to Carroll since Houchens took over the program in 2008, rising sophomore Jonathan Haden, received his first verbal offer from North Carolina. Several other schools have told Haden, as far back as last year, that they plan to offer – but cannot do so verbally until the end of a player’s freshman year, and cannot grant a written offer until the start of his junior year.
“He’s had a great offseason,” Houchens said of Haden, “and now he’s ready to take that next step.”