By Paul Sykes

He dreamed of playing football at Papa John’s Cardinal stadium, kicking for the red and black. Kickoffs, punts, extra points.  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.  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.”

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

4 thoughts on “Petrino Snub Gets Job Done At UConn”
  1. Where did this guy get his info from Keith beisler is not a mentor to Cullen and was never an assistant coach. I believe he may be right on Cullen being ready for the game, but. Why would an EMT and Bus driver be this kids mentor?

    1. Beisler is a volunteer coaching assistant in case you haven’t noticed. Also, I know a few EMT’s and bus drivers who are very good mentors. What’s your problem anyway?

  2. Notice I mentioned “coaching assistant” and not “assistant coach”, Chris. And, Mr.Beisler knows quite a few of the current and former Butler football player, including Desi.

    The bottom line (and the point of the article) was this…Petrino’s failure to get a local kid that wanted to come here but got the cold shoulder from the prior regime.

    If given the choice between Cullen and the current UofL combo of Goettsche, Payne and whoever Krags decides is going to do kickoffs….who would you pick?

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