Thursday, July 24, 2014

A look at 22 UConn products in NFL camps

Former UConn stars Yawin Smallwood and Shamar Stephen trying
 to make it onto the active rosters of Atlanta and Minnesota
With NFL training camps upon us I thought it would be a good time to take a look at where the 22 former UConn products stand in their quest to be on the active rosters. In the for what it is worth department, ESPN had each of its NFL team bloggers predict the opening game rosters and of the 21 former Huskies on rosters at that point (Lawrence Wilson had yet to signed by St. Louis) 16 of them made the cut. For those wondering, Kashif Moore, Yawin Smallwood, Shamar Stephen, Nick Williams and Trevardo Williams were the players who did not make the projected rosters of their respective teams.
Will Beatty is back on field for the New York Giants

Will Beatty, OT New York Giants: Was cleared to practice earlier this week as he has returned sooner than expected from broken leg suffered in 2013 regular-season finale.
Tyvon Branch, S Oakland : Another former Husky looking to rebound after seeing 2013 season ended due to broken leg
Donald Brown, RB San Diego: Although he is in a crowded backfield, expectations are high for the former first-round pick in his first season with the Chargers
Darius Butler, DB Indianapolis: Has found a home with the Colts, his third NFL team. Posted a career-high 54 tackles and four interceptions last season.
Marcus Easley, WR Buffalo: Had his first two career regular-season catches last year but it was his work as the Bills' leader in special-teams tackle that has him in position to return for a fourth season
Dwayne Gratz, CB Jacksonville: Expectations are extremely high for the second-year cornerback who had 32 tackles and two interceptions in 10 games as a rookie
Ryan Griffin, TE Houston With Owen Daniels now with the Ravens, opportunity could be knocking for Griffin who had 14 catches in final three games of 2013 season.
Danny Lansanah, LB Tampa Bay: His appearance in 2013 regular-season finale against New Orleans was his first since 2008. He will likely need to contribute on special teams to make the team this season.
Robert McClain, DB Atlanta: One of the true success stories, McClain has 126 tackles and has 15 pass breakups over the last two seasons and he's found a home in Atlanta.
Kashif Moore, WR Pittsburgh: Moore faces an uphill climb to make the team after the Steelers signed Lance Moore and Darius Heyward-Bey and drafted Martavis Bryant.
Sio Moore, LB Oakland: After registering 50 tackles and 4.5 sacks as a rookie, Moore moves to the weakside outside linebacking spot and is being pushed by Miles Burris for the starting spot.

Dan Orlovsky, QB Detroit: After playing in three games over the last two seasons in Tampa Bay, he was signed to be Matt Stafford's backup in Detroit. He'll likely have to beat out Kellen Moore, who has been with the Lions for two seasons without appearing in a game, to be the No. 2 QB.
Kendall Reyes, DL San Diego: Reyes, heading into his third season, was second on the Chargers with five sacks last season.
Anthony Sherman, FB Kansas City: For the second year in a row Sherman will be asked to lead the way for Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles.
Yawin Smallwood, LB Atlanta: Like most seventh-round picks, it will not be easy for Smallwood to land on the opening day roster especially after the Falcons signed Tim Dobbins and Pat Angerer to help fill the void left by the injured Sean Weatherspoon.
Shamar Stephen, DT Minnesota: There has been nothing but positive reviews for Stephen, also taken in the seventh round in this year's draft. As is the case with Smallwood, Stephen is going to have to impress during training camp to put himself in position to make the squad.
Donald Thomas, OG Indianapolis: Thomas suffered a season-ending torn quad in the second game of the 2013 season but he was recently cleared to practice.
Jordan Todman, RB Jacksonville: With Maurice Jones-Drew now in Oakland Todman will be pushing Toby Gerhart for carries for the Jaguars.
Nick Williams, WR Washington: Williams made the Redskins as an undrafted rookie free agent but with Washington signing Desean Jackson and Andre Roberts and drafting Ryan Grant, he has his work cut out for him.
Trevardo Williams, LB Houston: The fourth-round pick in last year's draft hasn't had the chance to show what he can do. He spent his rookie season on injured reserve and is currently on the physically unable to perform list due to the knee injury. The fact that he wasn't cut seems to be an indication that new coach Bill O'Brien is willing to wait to see what Williams is capable of.
Lawrence Wilson, LB St. Louis: Signed earlier this week by the Rams, the much traveled Wilson will need to open eyes during training camp. Wilson has been with Carolina, Tennessee, New Orleans and Chicago but has yet to appear in a regular season game although he has recorded 21 tackles in 11 career preseason games.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB Tennessee: With Alterraun Verner headed off to Tampa Bay Wreh-Wilson is competing for a starting cornerback spot in his second season.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Former UConn OT Beatty returns to field

There have been plenty of questions concerning former UConn offensive lineman Will Beatty's timetable for a return to the football field following the horrific injury he suffered in the 2013 season finale for the New York Giants.

Well, the speculation came to an end yesterday as Beatty took part in drills, on a limited basis.

Beatty was cleared to practice on Monday which was a major landmark in his return from a fractured tibia he suffered in the third quarter in the December game against the Washington Redskins.

Beatty started all 16 games for the first time in his career but had a disappointing season. The return to football drills is the first step for Beatty, a second-round pick by the New York Giants in the 2009 NFL Draft, as he looks to return to the form that earned him a five-year contract worth nearly $40 million.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Some catching up to do

Senior cornerback Byron Jones is one of two UConn players expected to be
in attendance at next week's American Athletic Conference media day
After taking the last two weeks off, I figured I would attempt to recap what I missed.

Let's start with the hiring of Darrell Perkins at Old Dominion.

Perkins spent the last four seasons at UConn coaching the safeties last season after spending the previous three seasons coaching all the defensive backs.Perkins will coach the cornerbacks at Old Dominion while former UConn assistant Kermit Buggs will coach the safeties. Also, former graduate assistant Jordan Orlovsky has been named as a grad assistant at Old Dominion.

It looks like every coach from last year's team except offensive coordinator T.J. Weist, the interim coach for the final eight games has found a landing spot.

Paul Pasqualoni: Defensive Line coach Chicago Bears
George DeLeone: Assistant Offensive Line coach Cleveland Browns
Shane Day: Assistant Offensive Line coach/offensive quality control Washington Redskins
Mike Foley: Offensive Line coach UConn
Hank Hughes: Co-Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers coach Cincinnati
Kermit Buggs: Safeties coach Old Dominion
Shane Fogarty: Offensive Coordinator Colby
Darrell Perkins: Cornerbacks coach Old Dominion
Jonathan Wholley: Co-Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers coach Fordham

Also, former UConn grad assistant Michael Digman has been hired as the quarterbacks coach at Central Connecticut and Doug Shearer is a grad assistant at North Carolina State.

UConn received a commitment from Chris Lee, a tight end out of Severna Park. The 6-foot-7 Lee is also a member of the basketball team which reached the Maryland 4A quarterfinals. Lee's best game as a junior might have come against South River when he had four catches for 50 yards including a 15-yard touchdown. He finished with 18 catches for 261 yards and two touchdowns. His 14.5 yard per catch average was second on the 5-5 Severna Park team among players with at least 10 receptions. He also averaged 8.8 points per game for the basketball team.

The American Athletic Conference recently released the list of players expected to take part in next week's AAC media day and receiver Geremy Davis and cornerback Byron Jones were the UConn players on the list. Media day is set for July 29 and will be held in Newport, R.I.

Boston College posted its 2014 roster and as expected some familiar names are on the list as former UConn safety Ty-Meer Brown and receiver Shakim Phillips will play for the Eagles. Brown will wear No. 5 and Phillips No. 11. Former Norwich Free Academy star Marcus Outlow, a freshman running back, was given No. 7.

Former UConn tight end John Delahunt had a 23-yard catch leading to a field goal as the expansion Ottawa Redblacks won their first Canadian Football League game on Friday.

Ottawa, playing its first home game in franchise history, defeated Toronto 18-17 on Friday. Delahunt, who plays fullback, has four catches for 55 yards in three games this season.

Larry Taylor's 145 kickoff return yards was one of the few bright spots in Montreal's 41-5 loss to the BC Lions on Saturday. Taylor went over the 5,000 yard mark in career kickoff returns. He is fourth on the CFL career list with 236 career kickoff returns and needs 283 yards to move into the No.. 5 spot in career kickoff return yards.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

UConn's Cochran nominated for Allstate Good Works team

UConn sophomore quarterback Casey Cochran is a candidate for the Allstate Good Works team.

Cochran, who quarterbacked UConn to a three-game winning streak to end the 2013 season, is recognized for representing the football team on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, volunteering as a coach in the Monroe Lions Youth Football program and regularly visiting local elementary schools as part of the Goal Line Project. Cochran has also been recognized for his work in the classroom.

The former Masuk High star also worked as a counselor at the camp during the 19th annual Manning Passing Academy run by the family of Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning.


UConn's Davis on Biletnikoff Award watch list

UConn senior receiver Geremy Davis was named to the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award which is presented annually to the nation's top receiver.

As a junior Davis had a team-leading 71 catches including a program single-game record 15 in the regular-season finale against Memphis. He had four 100-yard games and finished with 1,085 receiving yards during the 2013 season which is the sixth highest total in UConn history and most since the Huskies began playing at the FBS level in 2002.

Davis has led UConn in receptions in each of the last two seasons and if he accomplishes the feat again as a senior, he will join Mark Didio as the only Huskies to lead UConn in catches for three seasons in a row. His 1,771 career receiving yards is the most at UConn during the FBS era and ranks ninth all time.

Davis was also named to the College Football Performance Awards WR watch list.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

No UConn products in NFL Supplemental Draft

When Lyle McCombs, the fourth all-time leading rusher in UConn history, was dismissed from the program one of the options suggested for McCombs was having him enter the NFL Supplemental Draft.

Well, that draft will be held later today and McCombs is not one of the four available players.

McCombs would have been a long shot to be taken even if he had entered his name in the NFL Supplemental Draft. Perhaps had receiver Shakim Phillips opted to go down that road rather than playing his final season at Boston College, he would be been a more likely option to be taken in the NFL Supplemental Draft.

None of the six available players were taken in last year's draft.

UConn announced that football coach Bon Diaco will take part in an event at Rentschler Field on July 29 titled “An Evening With Head Football Coach Bob Diaco.” The event is being run by the Greater Hartford Chapter of the UConn Alumni Association.

The 12th annual event begins at 4:45 p.m. when fans can take to the playing field and have a football toss and get their pictures taken. A buffet dinner will then be served in the Club Level at Rentschler Field with a cash bar and silent auction. Diaco will then address the group, including a question and answer period.Tickets are priced at $45 for dues paying members of the UConn Alumni Association and $55 for the non-dues paying attendees.For additional information or to register, visit or contact the UConn Alumni Association toll-free at 888-822-5861.

Temple rising junior linebacker Tyler Matakevich from Stratford is one of four American Athletic Conference players named to the Bronko Nagurski Award watch list.

Other AAC players named to the list for the award, presented annually to the nation's best defensive player, were Tulane defensive back Lorenzo Doss, Memphis defensive end Martin Ifedi and Houston linebacker Derrick Mathews.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

UConn's Mateas named to Rimington Trophy watch list

UConn senior center Alex Mateas, who along with Geremy Davis is the only returning offensive player to start all 12 games during the 2013 season, was one of 66 centers named to the watch list for the Rimington Trophy.

Mateas had played in 20 games at UConn over the last two seasons after transferring from Penn State, starting 17 times and he is one of the few experienced players on an offensive line which lost four starters to graduation.

He has drawn praise from new UConn coach Bob Diaco for being one of the best leaders among the returning Huskies and it would be a surprise to nobody if he were to be named as one of UConn's team captains.

The list of candidates looks very much like the one put out a few months ago as the committee went from having 64 candidates on the spring watch list to 66 on the most current roll call.


Monday, July 07, 2014

DE William Richardson commits to UConn

William Richardson, a defensive end out of Ballou High in Washington, D.C., announced on his Twitter account last night that he has committed to UConn.

William Richardson @Will_GoGetIt
I am Commited to The University of Connecticut  #GoHukies #GameChangers #BBB  

Richardson was a starter at tight end and linebacker during the 2013 season at Ballou. Richardson becomes the 12th player to commit to UConn.

Considering that UConn received its first four commitments when I took my first week of vacation and I am currently off this week as well, I can only surmise that many more commitments will be coming UConn's way this week.