STORRS - Kevin Mensah is all over the UConn football teamâ€™s record book.
The five touchdowns he scored against UMass in a 2019 game were one shy of the school-record six Walt Trojanowski had against Worcester Tech in 1945. The senior running back has a chance, with another big season, to become the programâ€™s all-time leader in rushing yards.
But the numbers donâ€™t tell the full story of the Worcester nativeâ€™s career, coach Randy Edsall says.
In fact, Edsall admits he had actually been hoping for more from Mensah, though that has nothing to with his back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
â€śHe hasnâ€™t developed into the type of leader that I would expect him of a guy in his situation. Thatâ€™s part of the maturity factor,â€ť Edsall said as the Huskies began training camp. â€śHeâ€™s gotten better but heâ€™s still got a ways to go from that standpoint.â€ť
That seems rather harsh for a player who has stood out on the field through a rather rough period in UConn football history - the Huskies did not compete in 2020 for COVID-19 safety concerns, but have won a mere six games in the three seasons since Edsallâ€™s return to the helm - but Mensah admits his coachâ€™s critique is reasonable.
â€śYeah, fair. Coach and I, weâ€™re good. Weâ€™re good together,â€ť Mensah said. â€śHe knows whatâ€™s the best for me, and Iâ€™m starting to understand that. Iâ€™m starting to listen to him more and just be more patient, more humble.â€ť
It seems Mensah wasnâ€™t always keen to Edsallâ€™s way of thinking. He is, however, coming around.
â€śI canâ€™t lie, itâ€™s difficult to be a player for him. But if you can get your head on and be focused, itâ€™ll work out for you,â€ť Mensah said.
Mensah equated Edsallâ€™s approach to another veteran New England coach.
â€śCoach Edsall is almost like coach (Bill) Belichick. Just do your job,â€ť Mensah said of the six-time Super Bowl champion.
After nearly two years of waiting, the Huskies will play their season-opener Aug. 28 against Fresno State (2 p.m., CBS Sports Network).
â€śWeâ€™re just ready to get out there and start hitting,â€ť Mensah said just before the start of camp. â€śAnd weâ€™re excited for our first game coming up.â€ť
The 5-foot-9, 202-pound Mensah has already accumulated 2,619 yards on the ground in his Husky career. Only four players have ever run for more at UConn, topped by Donald Brownâ€™s 3,800.
â€śHe is a young man that has been productive here in the program. I think he can still be even a little bit more productive in terms of being better as an all-around running back. Heâ€™s proven he can run the ball really well. Now I would hope that this year heâ€™ll be able to take his pass protection, his pass catching to another level,â€ť Edsall said.
Thatâ€™s fine by Mensah.
â€śWhatever I can do to help this team get a bowl game,â€ť Mensah said.
Mensah wonâ€™t be the only one occupying the UConn backfield this season, of course. Robert Burns, a graduate transfer from Miami, is also likely to see a good deal of playing time.
â€śRobert Burns is a great addition to our team. Heâ€™s awesome,â€ť Mensah said. â€śItâ€™s like he was always here.â€ť
The two men have rather different playing styles, and could prove a good compliment to each other.
â€śHeâ€™s got great size. Heâ€™s like 230 (pounds). Heâ€™s definitely bigger than me,â€ť Mensah said of Burns. â€śHeâ€™s a bulldozer.â€ť
Edsall, as he typically does with every position on his team, points out that Mensah should know there is competition for his position this season despite his resume.
â€śKevin is going to be challenged by Nate (Carter) and by Robert,â€ť Edsall said. â€śHe canâ€™t get complacent and rest on his past accomplishments to think heâ€™s got the job won.â€ť