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Knights' senior chooses UConn

February 03, 2005|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

MIDDLETOWN, Md. - Andrew Presnell's calling may have been printed on a calling card.

"Their card says, 'A Journey of Excellence,'" Presnell said. "I guess they are on their way."

"They" is the University of Connecticut football team and Presnell has decided to join the journey. Middletown's 6-foot-4, 280-pound lineman on Wednesday officially signed his National Letter of Intent to play for the Huskies, ending nothing in the way of suspense, but opening the door to a long-anticipated world of possibilities.

Presnell, the son of Ed and Kelli Presnell, will be joining a UConn team that will be in its second year of NCAA Division I football. UConn finished its first season with an 8-4 record in the Big East Conference followed by an invitation to and a victory in the Motor City Bowl.

"I'm excited," said Presnell, who nervously sat through his first press conference at Middletown High School. "I want to get past high school and get to college and work. They brought the program from Division I-AA to Division I and I want to help. They said they want me to play defense, but that could change. I just want to play. I'll play quarterback if they want me to. ... I just want to play.

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"This is all icing on the cake. My folks and I stood around and watched the letter of intent go on the fax."

Presnell, a two-year varsity player, worked with weights and beefed up from a 217-pound sophomore to the 280 pounds he carries now.

He earned first-team honors on the Maryland Small School, Herald-Mail All-Area and MVAL Piedmont teams as an offensive lineman. He is Maryland's top-ranked heavyweight wrestler and won his 100th career match last weekend.

"This is a great opportunity for (Presnell) and his family," said Tim Ambrose, Middletown's athletic director and former football coach. "He has worked hard for it. This kid just cracked through. He has tremendous potential. He just turned 17. Why he has so much potential is because he's so young."

Presnell settled on his journey to UConn long before the Huskies made their splash on the college football scene.

It started with a college football "combine" - where coaches see potential scholarship players work out - at Penn State, where Presnell put up some eye-popping sprint times.

"The time he put up at the Nike combine at Penn State brought him out early," Ambrose said. "Now he wasn't just a big kid, he was a big kid who could run."

Presnell spent last summer at two football camps - the first at Marshall University and the other at UConn, schools which became his top choices to attend. After each camp, the schools made offers. In July, he committed to UConn.

"I got a lot of looks at the camps," Presnell said. "I went to Marshall and then the next week, I went to UConn. I didn't want to go to any more camps. ... I wanted to get it out of the way and enjoy my senior season."

The early commitment backfired a little, though.

"I got to the point where I got reserved," he said. "I didn't want to mess up in the eyes of Coach (Ambrose) or UConn's coach. Once I relaxed and started to play, I started to see my potential."

Some saw that potential early. He said he called Maryland to tell them he wasn't interested and also heard from Penn State, William & Mary and Towson University. He already knew that UConn coach Randy Edsall had plans for him.

"They want me to play defense," Presnell said. "Depending on how much weight I put on, I'll play defensive tackle, but if I can keep my speed, I might be a rush defensive end."

At UConn, Presnell said he might have the best of all worlds. It's young program working to carve its niche at a school that loves its athletics and has a formula for success.

"When I first heard from them, I said, 'UConn? What's this?'" he said. "But once I got up there ... they have two national championship basketball teams and a lot of resources that they are putting into football. It was great. Coach Edsall is an amazing guy. He's all positive and upbeat. I'm psyched."

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