The offseason has seen the UConn football staff load up on defensive backs throughout the recruiting process, a position that is in need of depth, particularly when playing a 3-3-5 system. One of those who put pen to paper during early signing day in December is Keyshawn Paul, a 6’0″ prototypical corner who can run, with a 40-time clocked at just 4.46.
Hailing from Miami, FL, Paul attends Miami Jackson Senior High School and will follow in the footsteps of another former native of Miami who called UConn home, Jasper Howard. He has heard Jasper’s story, noting that ‘he was a tremendous player out of Miami.’
So what set UConn apart from others and made the player from south Florida, decide that a place up north in Connecticut was for him?
“The feeling that I got when I stepped foot on campus,” he said over the phone a few weeks back. “The bond that I had with the guys there, they made it feel like home. Coach Richardson and Coach Cox played a big part. They asked me real-life questions that I had to think about. Just being at the school, I could see my future there as they had a lot of things that I had never seen before.”
Paul fits the mold of the type of recruit head coach Randy Edsall and his staff are looking for and he echoed those sentiments during our conversation.
“Family, education and then athletics,” he said sternly when asked what drew him in. “They have great academics there too.”
Miami is known for producing not just athletes, but football players that excel not just in college, but at the next level. He takes pride in where he is from and will certainly bring that swagger with him to Storrs.
“There isn’t another place to play and learn the game of football, other than Miami,” he said proudly. “I believe in the work ethic, the talent and the speed we have [here].”
Already mentioned was the impact running back coach Terry Richardson and defensive backs coach Curome Cox had on Paul, but Edsall made an impression as well.
“Coach Edsall was a big factor,” Paul confirmed. “He kept it real from the jump. He didn’t sugar-coat anything. He told me what he was going to expect and the work you are going to need to put in. Him and his staff were amazing.”
Paul will bring the complete package from the corner position. His highlight tape is littered with big hits, press coverage, reading the quarterback while in zone, ball skills and speed. He’s the type of talent that immediately stands out and UConn Nation will love that he plays with one mindset.
“I play aggressive,” he said matter-of-factly. “I like to play physical.”
UConn is one of the top school’s to produce defensive backs that go on to play in the NFL. In 2017, eight former Huskies were on NFL rosters during the season, including three picks over the last three years in Obi Melifonwu, Andrew Adams and Byron Jones. This year, Jamar Summers should expect to get his name called in April’s draft. Paul’s versatility is an added bonus to the traits that align with what many of the successful defensive backs at UConn have brought to the table.
“I can play man-on-man and I’m good at cover-3 too,” he said and he’s also not shy from contact. “I like to deliver big hits and make big tackles.”
He is humble, however, recognizing he has areas he can improve upon.
“My off coverage,” he said. “In some of the strategy Coach Cox was telling me, I believe he can fix that no problem, with the right fundamentals and techniques.”
During Paul’s official visit, he wasn’t the only one that was pleased with what UConn would bring.
“This school made myself and my family happy,” he said. “I call it my home. I wanted to sign in December rather than wait in order to get the process over with.”
The game of football has helped him develop not just on the field, but off it. It’s a story that is prevalent in countless players’ lives and it really portrays how the game can impact not just their present, but their futures as well.
“Football has kept me out of trouble,” he confirmed. “It’s made me see things in different ways. Bonding with your teammates, they become your brothers.”
In addition to football, Paul runs track, something he says ‘keeps him in condition.’ That speed will also be utilized on special teams, already having had conversations about the opportunity to return punts here at UConn. If his tape is indicative of the type of player the Huskies are getting, the name Keyshawn Paul will be one UConn fans will remember.
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