By Paul Sykes
He dreamed of playing football at Papa John’s Cardinal stadium, kicking for the red and black. Kickoffs, punts, extra points.Â Didn’t matter to Desi Cullen. Louisville was his favorite school and any way he could help was the right ticket for him.
Except Bobby Petrino had no interest. Submitted game tapes went unviewed. Calls from Butler coaches didn’t get returned.Â Cullen would wind up in the Big East, but it was at UConn instead of Louisville.
Cullen has been the punter and kickoff specialist for Randy Edsall’s squad the last three years. He did eventually get to punt at Papa John’s last season, rocking the Cards for five punts for an average of 44 yards in a 26-21 UConn win.
Currently, he’s the second leading punter in the Big East, with a 43.4 punting average. 70% of his kickoffs have gone unreturned this year.
He recently told the Hartford Courant:
“I have some great discussions with my grandmother back in Louisville, because she’s so pro-U of L and I’m up here. The great thing is that she’s coming up to watch the game Saturday and it’s homecoming and it’s my senior year so that is really special to me.”
Cullen admits he was “too jacked up” when he first punted against Louisville in 2007 and “wanted everything to go 60 yards … but after I shanked the first one and it went about 20 yards…the coaches told me to calm down and focus.”
Butler coaching assistant and mentor Keith Beisler describes Cullen as “one of those kids that comes along once in a lifetime. Good student, great personality, a team leader and motivator. Why Petrino didn’t grab him up is still a mystery to me…but Desi’s happy at UConn and that’s all you can wish for him.”