UConn Football Coach Randy Edsall at today's press conference on the stabbing-death of 20-year-old Jasper T. Howard. AP photo courtesy of UConn Athletic Communications.
From the Sunday, Oct. 18 press conference regarding the death of student and football player Jasper T. Howard:
Head Coach Randy Edsall – opening statement:
“I got over to St. Francis Hospital at around 1:40 in the morning, and there were already some of Jasper’s friends and teammates there trying to get information on the health of their friend.
“The people at St. Francis were great, and I basically was just trying to comfort everyone there for Jasper. I stayed in contact with Jasper’s mother throughout the morning, keeping her informed as to what was going on.
“At around 4:30 [a.m.] I was called into the operating room to identify the body. Then I got on the phone with the doctor and we had to make a phone call to Jasper’s family. I then went down and addressed the student-athletes who were there, and needless to say, that was not a very enjoyable moment. That’s when the counseling began for the players who were there, to comfort them and guide them, as a coach and a father. I let them know what we were going to do to get through this terrible tragedy that happened to a great young man.”
On the team meeting held this morning:
“We scheduled a team meeting for 6 a.m. so the players and coaches would hear the news from me, and not through the grapevine. About 90 percent of the team was able to make it, and I told them how we had lost a brother, a teammate, a great person, a mentor and somebody that you love to be around.
“I told them it was unfortunate, and that life isn’t always fair. I also told them that life is very precious and we have to be thankful each day we’re alive for who we are. Everyone’s going to grieve a different way for this, but I told them that we have to love and support one another, and help each other through this difficult time.
“The team was heartbroken and devastated, but I told them to remember what Jasper would have wanted us to do. They all know that Jasper would want us to take our time to grieve, but then move on and get ready for the next game.”
On Jasper’s development since coming to UConn:
“Jazz grew so much in the two and a half years that he was here. The strides that he made, not only as a player but as a person, is just incredible. You could tell a huge difference this year in the way Jasper played; you could see how much his maturity level and willingness to play as part of a team had improved…They don’t come any better than Jazz.”
On honoring Jasper’s memory:
“I told the men who were at the hospital that we will remember Jazz for the rest of the season, whether it be his initials on our helmet, his number on our helmet, or something else. Whatever the NCAA will allow us to do to honor his memory, we will do.
“We will also have something in [the Burton Family Football Complex] to remember what he has done and how tragic a situation this is today.
“I also spoke to Jasper’s girlfriend down in Miami, and I let her know that her baby, Jasper’s baby, would be part of our family forever. I told her I’d make sure that the baby receives some memorabilia, including yesterday’s game ball, to remember him by.”
Senior Captain Desi Cullen – opening statement:
“Speaking for the team, as part of the family, we’ve been grieving quite a bit. I came here thinking the tough part was over, but it’s not. That just goes to show you the bond that you create as a teammate. It shows you the impact he made, not only on me, but on every individual in the program.
“You may come here from a tougher background that doesn’t have the same level of support or family as everyone else, but when you come here and invest the time and effort, you create a bond that can never be broken. That’s one of the things Jazz achieved while he was here, a bond with us that will never be broken or forgotten.”
On Jasper’s family:
“Hearing the news that he’s a father breaks my heart. The idea that he will grow up without a father to raise him will be extremely tough for that child. Along with Jazz looking down on him, that child will have 105 uncles to look up to. As a team, we’re going to make sure that we don’t just get through these times, but that we grow from it and become better men because of Jazz.”
On the team’s relationship with Jasper:
“From a team standpoint, our prayers go out to his mother. Jazz grew up from childhood with a tough background, and the simple fact that he got to where he did is a miracle. He was able to overcome everything and come all the way up to Connecticut where his mother thought he was safe.
“Jazz is our brother – he was closer to some than others – but when this happened, we all felt the same. There’s a saying in our locker room that, ‘If you shed this blood with me today, you shall forever be my brother.’ I promise you that this team will never forget him.”
Posted Oct. 18, 2009 – 8:45 p.m.