Sunday, June 26, 2016

Dixon trying to get up to speed at UConn

Keyion Dixon opened more than a few eyes as a quarterback when he was a senior at Glastonbury High School but the reality is that he would rather be on the receiving end of passes.

Dixon took the first steps towards realizing that goal when he headed up to UConn last week to take part in the conditioning program as well as enroll in some classes in the summer session.

"I am coming at it full speed," Dixon said after being named the offensive MVP for the winning Team Constitution squad at the Super 100 Classic at Rentschler Field. "They are always about precision routes, running everything with timing, just execution and that is what I really have to work on adjusting to the tempo of things and getting everything correct at that moment of time."

The receiving position is an interesting mix at UConn with veterans Noel Thomas and Brian Lemelle joined by talented youngsters Tyraiq Beals, Hergy Mayala and Aaron McLean.

"You have to take heed at what the other guys tell you because they have been in the same position when they were a freshman," Dixon said. "They tell you all the do's and don't, you just have to learn from them, soak up all that you can. You have to be a sponge in your first couple of weeks and in your first year because they have been there before. They know what to tell you in order for you to succeed because we all want to win. All of our receivers there because they all have different skill sets that you can benefit from so you try to see what they are good at and implement into your game."

Dixon admits that the workout sessions run by Matt Balis "are kicking my butt."

"We had our first leg day so they made us lift and then run so I figured wow, they are really into this," Dixon said. "Once you lift it, OK let's go run,  mentally you have to be focused for anything they can throw at you.

"You wake up at 5, you try to eat but it is hard when you have an hour to get ready and change. It is a workout from 6-7:30, you have to go to class until 8:15. My class schedule is 8:15-12:30, a rest period and go back and do practice."

Dixon had two catches in yesterday's game. The first one was a 65-yard touchdown and the other one was a 40-yard grab which set up another TD. Being on the same field where he will play his home games only increased his excitement to put on the UConn uniform.

"It is a dream come true," Dixon said. "You realized that you worked all your high school career, basically all of your life to get there and when you are there, you try to take in as much as you can. It is also a learning curve because you don't know what to expect going in there, they just throw you in there and teach you but it is hard to grasp all of that. It is very stressful; very tiring.

"You try a lot to make a good first impression on the team but then you realize there are other guys there who have the same skill set as you  so you try to differentiate yourself from the crowd. once you get into your comfort zone."


Saturday, June 25, 2016

UConn recruits shine at The Rent

UConn football signees Tyler Coyle and Keyion Dixon couldn't have come up with a better finish to their high school careers as they embark on life as members of the UConn football team that what transpired on a sunny Saturday night at Rentschler Field.

Coyle forced a fumble while Dixon had two catches for 105 yards including a 65-yard touchdown which opened the scoring as Team Constitution defeated Team Nutmeg 33-9. Dixon set up another score with a 40-yard reception.

"I had to give it my all and I came through," Coyle said. "It was definitely sweet. Like I told him, it is the first of many(touchdowns)."

Coyle, who wrapped up a brilliant track career by running the second leg on Windsor High School's national championship 4x200 relay team, is not enrolled in classes in summer session like Dixon and the other incoming freshmen as he said there is paperwork issues that need taken care of but he expected to be up in three or four weeks.

Dixon arrived on June 19 and has been introduced to the grueling conditioning program run by Matt Balis at UConn.

"You wake up at 5, you try to eat but it is hard when you have an hour to get ready and change," Dixon said. "It is a workout from 6-7:30, you have to go to class until 8:15. My class schedule is 8:15-12:30, a rest period and go back. You have time to yourself. You know you have obligations to yourself but you have things (to get done).

 "It is a mixture of both being that you are used to doing things on your own and in college, it is a team and it is intensive," Dixon said. "Everything is fast paced, you have to get it done and you have to be on time. They are really big on discipline, doing your job and worrying about the guy next to you, working with them and it is really just fun."

Dixon and his classmates have engaged in regular group chats allowing them to get to know the players they will be spending the next four or five years with but being on campus together has enabled they to become an even more tight-knit group.

"It is a really fun experience," Dixon said. "You talk to them over the phone, you don't really get a grasp of who they are in person, now having all of them, having Ty with me, we have known each other for years, having him coming there with me, it felt great to understand where they are coming from, putting it together as one cohesive unit and it really feels good  to be with them.

"It is a dream come true, you realized that you worked all your high school career, basically all of your life to get there and when you are there, you try to take in as much as you can. It is also a learning curve because you don't know what to expect going in there, they just throw you in there and teach you but it is hard to grasp all of that; it is very stressful; very tiring.

"You try a lot to make a good first impression on the team but then you realize there are other guys there who have the same skill set as you  so you try to differentiate yourself from the crowd. once you get into your comfort zone. The workouts are kicking my butt."

Dixon was named the offensive MVP for the winning team at the Super 100 Classic and he certainly seemed to make the best of his last game at Rentschler before beginning his college career.

"Coming in and playing in the Rent, this is a dream come true and to have Tyler right there next to me as my teammate to back me up on defense whenever I needed him," Dixon said.

"It felt good going back to UConn with the victory, it really means something to both of us."
While Dixon knows he will play receiver at UConn, Coyle is uncertain if he will play either cornerback or safety for the Huskies. He did go up to campus to see his soon to be classmates working out which only made him more eager to get up there for good.

"It's been a long ride and something like this is great to go out with," Coyle said. "We have to work hard, that strength and conditioning is no joke.

"I think when I get up there, I will be fine.

"You just have to take everything in. The strength and conditioning is a the hardest."

Hard work is nothing new to Coyle as his exploits in track and field indicate.

"All the things in high school, that was the last thing on my checklist," Coyle said of winning a national title. "It was so surreal to really accomplish that. It was such a great team that we had.
It is definitely intense. I praise God."

Reuben Frank didn't score a touchdown in 48 games at UConn. He didn't have to wait that long to find the end zone as a pro.

Frank blocked a punt and recovered it for a touchdown in his first regular-season CFL game in Edmonton's 45-37 loss to Ottawa on Saturday night.

Here's a link to a video of Frank's impressive play.

Former UConn standout Joseph makes an impact

Former UConn defensive end Jesse Joseph recorded his first career sack in the Canadian Football League in Montreal's 22-14 win over Winnipeg on Friday night.

Montreal was leading 22-6 with 5:15 remaining when Joseph took down Drew Willy for a six-yard loss on third down to give the ball back to Montreal. It was one of five sacks for the Alouettes in the season opener.

Joseph is in his second season with Montreal as he made six tackles in 18 games during the 2015 season.

A couple of Joseph's former teammates could square off tonight when Alex Mateas's Ottawa team plays Edmonton featuring rookie Reuben Frank.

In Toronto's 42-20 loss to Hamilton on Thursday, Larry Taylor returned to the CFL as he returned five punts for 40 yards and had 68 yards on three kickoff returns. Taylor moved up a spot to eighth on CFL's career kickoff return list moving past Ron Hopkins.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Former UConn star Taylor returning to CFL

Former UConn star Larry Taylor, who twice led the Canadian Football League in punt return yardage, is returning to the league after being signed by the Toronto Argonauts today.

Taylor, who previously played for Calgary and Montreal, ranks seventh in return yardage in CFL history, last played in the league in 2014.

Taylor played for Montreal from 2008-10 although he spent most of the 2010 season attempting to make it in the NFL. He was signed by Calgary in 2011 and spent three seasons there before being traded to Montreal in 2014.

He is one of five former UConn players who will start the season on CFL rosters as Reuben Frank is with Edmonton, Alex Mateas is in his second season with Ottawa while Martin Bedard and Jesse Joseph are on Montreal's roster.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

UConn sacks leader among CFL cuts

Canadian Football League teams had to trim their rosters to 46 players today and among those players let go today was Trevardo Williams, UConn's all-time leader in sacks, who was waived by the Toronto Argonauts.

Williams played in both preseason games for Toronto, finishing with two tackles and one sack.

Former UConn receiver Terence Jeffers-Harris was cut by the BC Lions. While official rosters haven't been posted, former Huskies Martin Bedard (Montreal), Reuben Frank (Edmonton), Jesse Joseph (Montreal) and Alex Mateas (Ottawa) were not listed among the cuts. Bedard, Joseph and Mateas (a former No. 1 overall pick) are all from Canada so it's not a surprise to see them survive the cuts but it would be an impressive feat for Frank to be on the opening game roster for Edmonton. Frank was signed by Edmonton on May 28.

I'd expect official rosters to be on the official CFL site perhaps as soon as tomorrow. The regular season kicks off on Thursday when Hamilton plays Toronto.

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Special day for pair of UConn incoming freshmen

The new members of the UConn football team are heading to campus today to embark on their freshmen seasons with the Huskies. However, before arriving both Noel Brouse and Tyler Coyle had some work yet to be done.

Brouse had a pair of sacks as the Pennsylvania team defeated Maryland 26-14 in the Big 33 Classic.

Brouse was originally slated to play offensive line but coaches decided to move him to defensive end. Brouse got the start and was a part of a dominating defensive effort.

While Brouse was in Hersheypark Park Stadium winning the final high school game of his career, Coyle was at North Carolna A&T University helping his Windsor High School 4x200 relay team win a national title.

Coyle ran the second leg as Windsor finished with a time of 1:27.03 to take home the title at the New Balance Outdoor Track and Field Nationals. He also ran the second leg on the 4x100 relay team which qualified for today's championship with the fifth-best qualifying time of 41.71. The final is set for today at 5:30 p.m.

Friday, June 17, 2016

UConn incomnig freshman in action tomorrow

Lineman Noel Brouse will suit up for the Pennsylvania team at the Big 33 Classic tomorrow and there is a live stream available at I can't vouch for the quality of the stream or if any passwords will be needed but you can try going to that page around 7 p.m. tomorrow and see how it works.

Brouse will wear No. 79 in the game.

The Big 33 Classic is a big-time event. I went down there in 2013 when Chris Britton, Junior Joseph and Brian Lemelle played in the game and was very impressed with how well run the game is. I won't be making the trip down there this year unfortunately.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Diaco family gives back to UConn

UConn announced that UConn football coach Bob Diaco and his wife Julia have announced plans to contribute $250,000 to help fund the construction of new soccer, baseball and softball facilities at UConn.

“Our UConn football family is very fortunate to call The Burton Family Football Complex and Mark R. Shenkman Training Center our home,” said Diaco in a statement. “These facilities are among the finest in the nation and fully serve the needs of our football student-athletes. I want all Husky student-athletes and my fellow coaches to be able to enjoy the same caliber of facilities, which they richly deserve.”

Preliminary costs to build the baseball, soccer and softball complexes total $46 million and the UConn Foundation expects to be able to raise $25 million in private donations toward the projects, with a substantial portion of that total already in hand.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

UConn's Knappe, Williams on 2017 NFL draft watch list

Let's just file this under the "take this for what it's worth" department with the NFL draft still about 10 months away and it's hard to read too much into draft watch lists this far out but College Gridiron Showcase has been posting watch lists.

Offensive tackle Andreas Knappe and cornerback Jhavon Williams are the only UConn players to make the list as they are two of 412 draft eligible players on the list.

Knappe is going into his third season as UConn's starting right offensive tackle while Williams is coming off a junior season where he had 55 tackles and three interceptions.

Personally, if I were to list UConn's pro prospects in the senior class, I would start with safety Obi Melifonwu and receiver Noel Thomas but it is nice recognition for Knappe and Williams, who I would consider to be leading candidates to be among the UConn captains during the 2016 season.

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More UConn kickoff times announced

UConn announced the start times for five more games during the upcoming season.

The Huskies kick off the season by hosting Maine on at 7 p.m. on Sept. 1 with the game airing on ESPN3. It was previously announced that the Sept. 10 game at Navy had a 3:30 p.m. kickoff and it will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network. The Sept. 17 home game against Virginia will start at 1:30 p.m. and be televised by SNY. On Sept. 29 UConn's game at Houston will start at 8 p.m. and be broadcast on ESPN. On Oct. 8, Cincinnati will face UConn at 11:30 a.m. with the game being carried by CBS Sports Network while ESPN2 will televise the 7 p.m. Temple/UConn game on Nov. 4.

UConn returns 11 of the 12 offensive players to start at least five games a season ago and seven defensive players who started at least 10 games in the 2015 season.

Yesterday, Virginia defensive back Bebe Olaniyan committed to UConn and today it was New Jersey linebacker Ryan Dickens' turn.

Dickens announced his commitment on his Twitter page

Beyond blessed and honored to say that I have committed to play Division 1 football for Uconn!  #Huskies