Sunday, April 27, 2008

Davis, Lansanah sign deals

More UConn NFL news: Donald Thomas says defensive tackle Dan Davis has signed a free agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts. Linebacker Danny Lansanah signed with the Green Bay Packers.

Productive day for Connecticut football; four with state ties drafted

Very busy day for Connecticut football, and not just UConn. Tyvon Branch and Donald Thomas went in the fourth and sixth rounds to the Raiders and Dolphins. Rob Jackson, a defensive end at Kansas State, gave West Haven a second draft pick for the day when the Redskins took him in the seventh round. Also, Greenwich resident John Sullivan, a center at Notre Dame, was picked by the Vikings in the sixth round.

Still waiting for a callback from Jackson, but I spoke with both Thomas and Branch today. Here's some of what they had to say:

West Haven’s Donald Thomas had last played organized football as a freshman in high school when he decided to tryout at UConn in the summer of 2004.

Less than four years later, Thomas is heading to the NFL.

Thomas, an all-Big East offensive guard last fall in his only season as a starter, was selected in the sixth round (195th overall) of the NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

Earlier in the day, UConn teammate Tyvon Branch was taken in the fourth round (100th overall) by Oakland. Branch, a cornerback/return specialist, became the third-highest drafted UConn player behind Alfred Fincher in 2005 (3rd, round, 82nd overall) and John Dorsey in 1984 (4th round, 99th overall).

Thomas joins a Miami team with a heavy New Haven flavor. Head coach Tony Sparano, hired in January, was born and raised in the city. So was tight ends coach George DeLeone. Defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni attended Cheshire High and coached several seasons at Southern Connecticut State.

“All the New Haven connections in Miami is just crazy,” Thomas said. “It goes to show it’s a small world. A lot of people (in the NFL) can say they’re from Connecticut, but not a lot can say they’re from New Haven. To be going to the next level and have the head coach be from your hometown…it’s kind of like this was supposed to happen for me with Miami. It’s the perfect fit.”

Thomas, who is 6-foot-3, 308 pounds, says he had only one brief discussion with Miami in the months leading into the draft and has never met Sparano.

On Sunday, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland called Thomas to tell him he was about to be selected. Shortly after the pick was made official, Sparano called. Bill Parcells, recently named Miami’s executive vice president, hadn’t called Thomas as of Sunday evening.

Thomas joins a Miami team coming off a 1-15 season in which the offensive line was one of many problems. On Saturday, the Dolphins chose another offensive lineman, Michigan tackle Jake Long, with the No. 1 overall pick of the draft.

"The Dolphins are a team that obviously needs a lot of help and it's an organization filled with New Haven people,” UConn coach Randy Edsall said. "Donald will fit in well there. He is one of those tough, hard-nosed guys that Parcells looks for. He has a tremendous opportunity in Miami if he continues to work hard and some very good coaches to be around.” Thomas leaves for Miami’s mini-camp on Thursday.

“I want to show them I’m a good football player,” Thomas said. “That I only started for one season doesn’t mean anything. I’m a quality football player. Now I just have to show them that when I get down there.”Branch, a three-year starter, was projected to be taken int he second or third round. He fell to the first pick of the fourth round, although the Raiders traded with Dallas just before the selection, moving up four spots so they could take Branch.

The slight drop mattered little to Branch on Sunday.

“I’m just relieved,” Branch said from his home in Cicero, where he gathered with about 25 friends and family members to watch the day’s proceedings. “It’s a dream come true, and a huge burden off my back.”

Branch may ultimately move to safety in the NFL, where his size (5-foot-11, 205 pounds) and blazing speed (4.31-seconds in the 40-yard dash) make him ideally suited for the position.

Oakland’s plans for Branch are tough to read because of its offseason acquisitions of high profile safety Gibril Wilson and cornerback DeAngelo Hall.

But there’s no doubt Branch will have the opportunity to be an immediate contributor on special teams. He returned a pair of kickoffs for 97-yard touchdowns last fall, is a former high school sprint state champion in New York who was clocked at 10.60 seconds in the 100 and turned in the second-fastest 40 time at the NFL Combine in February.

The Raiders, 4-12, won more games than only Miami and St. Louis last season. It could be an ideal situation for a young player to see the field right away.

"It's great for Tyvon and great for our program,” UConn coach Randy Edsall said. “It's also exciting to see the Raiders trade up to draft him because it shows that they really want Tyvon.

"To graduate in three and a half years and get drafted is a great testament to Tyvon. He has had a fulfilling career here at UConn with a Big East Championship and two bowl games. I couldn't be happier for him. The Raiders are getting a young man of very high caliber in Tyvon."

Branch was the Raiders second draft choice. After selecting Arkansas running back Darren McFadden in the first round (fourth overall), they were without second and third round picks.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Settling in for the draft

I'm not going to lie. I don't like watching the NFL Draft on television. It's painfully long. I can't take Chris Berman for more than, oh, 15 seconds any more. Even less for Mel Kiper Jr and his hair. But with UConn about to have two players picked over the next two days, with a third possible, I'll be tuning in. At least for longer bits and pieces than usual.

With a little spare time this morning during my son's nap time, I've done a little digging for information about our state and the NFL. Turns out, we've done pretty well in churning out some pretty good pro talent. Relative to our size, at least. Here's a few fascinating facts to tide you over during the next 40 or so hours of ESPN draft coverage.

  • The Connecticut-born player with the most NFL games under his belt is kicker John Carney with 274. Yep. Carney was born in Hartford, even though he attended high school in southern Florida.

  • The true leaders amongst Connecticut-born NFL players is Hartford's Eugene Robinson and Vernon's Bill Romanowski. Robinson, best known for soliciting a prostitute the night before the Super Bowl, has played in 250. Romo, the 'roid raging, loogie hocking cheap-shot artist, played in 243 games. Those are two names to be proud of, eh?

  • Steve Young grew up in Greenwich, but was born in Salt Lake City. He also failed to make first-team all-state in high school.

  • Wide receiver Joe Horn was born in New Haven, but grew up in North Carolina.

  • A total of 15 Connecticut-born players saw action in at least 100 NFL games. How many can you name? A hint: Horn and Carney are included on the list, Young is not. Just about all of them are names you should know. Answer later.

  • Yale is the state school that has sent the most players on to the NFL, with 28. UConn is second wit 24. Southern Connecticut State is third with 11. Trinity (6), New Haven (5), Bridgeport (2), CCSU (1) and Wesleyan (1) round out the pack.

  • UConn has the most active NFL players with three (Orlovsky, Fincher and Brian Kozlowski). Yale has two (Eric Johnson and Nate Lawrie). SCSU has one (Jacques Cesaire).

  • Six state born players saw action in games last fall. Jamaal Branch (Hartford), Carney, Horn, Dwight Freeney (Bloomfield), Niko Koutouvides (Plainville) and Andrew Pinnock (Bloomfield). I can name at least one, Chukki Okobi of Hamden, who grew up here but was born in another state.

  • Here's the 100-games played list: Carney, 274; Tom Condon (Derby), 148; Chris Hetherington (North Branford), 126; Horn, 163; Tebucky Jones (New Britain), 109; Floyd Little (New Haven), 117; Nick Pietrosante (Ansonia), 116; Eugene Robinson (Hartford), 250; Andy Robustelli (Stamford), 175; Romanowski (Vernon), 243; Bob Skoronski (Ansonia), 146; Ken Strong (West Haven), 131; Dave Widell (Hartford), 156; Doug Widell (Hartford), 139; Terry Wooden (Hartford), 120.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Red, White and Blue postgame notes

A rundown of the postgame topics:

  • Most of the postgame press conference centered around UConn's proposed series with Notre Dame. Randy Edsall defended the decision to play none of the 10 games with the Irish on Connecticut soil. Edsall even channeled his inner Don King with this quote, "The opportunity is here for us to play them, and give us a chance to elevate our program on more of a national spotlight. I thought that's what America is all about is opportunity. Gentlemen, isn't this an indictment of our American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but I'm not going to stand here and listen to you all bad-mouth the United States of America!" Edsall boomed, before storming out of the interview room while humming the Star Spangled Banner. OK, the last part didn't happen. But I couldn't help but think of Eric "Otter" Stratton's speech defending Delta house.

  • You'll read plenty about this in the paper tomorrow. Essentially, Randy champions the fact that Notre Dame will get UConn on NBC at least once a season, will get the Boston and New York media on board, get UConn's alumni in those markets involved, and expand the school's recruiting base and exposure. It wasn't exactly a no-spin zone (apologies, Bill O'Reilly). Edsall and Jeff Hathaway know there's no chance of Notre Dame coming to East Hartford, so now it's time to sell the Connecticut public on why this is a good deal. Still, would just one game at the Runway be that much to ask of the Irish? Is Notre Dame that arrogant? We know now the answer is absolutely, they are.

  • Zach Frazer looked much better today than he has in practice. He overthrew a few times, he still tends to step one way and throw the opposite way. “The process of him processing what we do is not the issue,” Edsall said. “It’s the fundamentals of throwing the football that are the issue with Zach. He is a student of the game. He works feverishly at understanding everything we want to do. For him to develop into the complete quarterback, it’s the mechanics that he has to work very hard on this summer.” Still, 16-of-27 passing for 272 yards and a touchdown with one interception is a good day's work. Cody Endres has ability, but took four sacks. "That's inexperience," Edsall said. "Cody is still young. In the pocket, you'd like to see him step up and avoid some of those sacks. But it was good to see him handle the huddle."

  • Robbie Frey played very well, especially considering his entire high school football team made the four-plus hour trip from Leighton, Pa. After the game, he said he didn't want to be rude and say quick goodbyes, so he took them on a tour of the locker room. Edsall said this of Frey, "“One thing I liked today was that he caught the ball a little better than what he had in practices. He’s a hard runner, he’s got good vision. When he sees a hole, he’s got the ability to have that burst to get through the hole. He even showed some strength. He broke some tackles. A sign of a good running back is how many yards they get after being hit. I thought he had a couple of nice runs after contact today.”

  • Darius Butler lined up for one play on offense today. He burned Gary Wilburn for a 27-yard touchdown. Edsall reiterated that Butler is still a cornerback first, and will help out how the situation dictates at receiver. But he also said that if Butler dedicated all his time to learning the position, he'd be a better wide receiver than a cornerback.

  • Edsall said he expects UConn to be stronger and faster than a year ago. The one area in question is special teams, which may not be as explosive without Larry Taylor and Tyvon Branch returning kicks. Jasper Howard, even with only fair catches allowed Saturday, didn't impress Edsall. But Edsall has very high hopes for recruit Jordan Todman. "Jordan will have every chance to be a punt returner and a kick returner. Darius will be one of our kickoff returners, and right now Jordan will be the other. I coach that position, so a lot of the pressure will be on me to get him ready."

  • There are four captains, but many more leaders who won't have the title, Edsall said. Rob Lunn, Steve Brouse, Keith Gray, Scott Lutrus, Andre Dixon, Donald Brown and Terry Baltimore were all named as guys who don't need to be captains to lead like captains.

  • Edsall said he expects Cody Brown to really blossom now that he's been elected captain. Brown has a world of talent, and he flashed a sense of humor, too. Brown entered the interview room with his name tag held precociously under his chin, with a devilish grin. Guess you had to see it, but it was funny.

  • Jarrell Miller is still a defensive tackle. He played end today because the Huskies were a little thin at the position this spring.

  • Edsall's NFL Draft predictions: Tyvon Branch between rounds 2-4, Donald Thomas between rounds 4-6 and Danny Lansanah with a chance at the 7th round. This coming from a man who has spoken directly with plenty of NFL execs who are very interested in the trio.

  • Edsall mentioned UConn has only offered four Connecticut high school prospects a full scholarship for the class of 2009 .

We're being booted from the press box (no arguments from's three hours after the game ended and getting late), so I'll wrap it up. We still plan to have periodic updates on the Runway, so come back.

Nice day for a spring game

We're back at Rentschler Field for the first time since last November's 30-7 victory over Syracuse. The weather's perfect, though the field is in it's typical shabby condition.

Couple of pre-game notes: Seymour's Mike Hicks has been grounded by coach Randy Edsall, and won't be playing today. He's not suspended, we've been told, but he is not allowed to take part in team activities for two weeks for a rules violation. Today is part of his punishment. No word on whether he was sent to his room without dessert today.

-- The 2007 Meineke Car Care Bowl banner has been hung beneath the press box at the Runway. No unveiling ceremony, which is understandable. At least the banner isn't stamped "participant", like those ribbons they gave all the kids who didn't win during Field Day in elementary school.

-- We're still 45 minutes before kickoff, but it has the makings of a sparse crowd today. I'd be surprised if they break 10,000, especially considering there's about 35 in the stands now.

-- Some clown across the street from the Silver Lane entrance to the Runway was holding a sign offering parking on his front lawn for the low, low price of just $10. I resisted the urge to roll down my window and inform him, oh, so delicately, that parking is free at the stadium this afternoon. Maybe someone can whip up a batch of fake tickets to see if this guy wants to scalp them.

-- Seating is open in the press box today, except for one slot. Leigh Torbin marked a place for Randy Smith of the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, who passed away last week. We'll all be thinking of you, Randy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Notes from the penultimate spring practice

Gotta cherish any opportunity to use the word "penultimate". Go ahead. Sprinkle it into your conversation tonight or tomorrow morning. You'll feel like you've accomplished something.

Really not much in the way of news today, as it was an Edsall no-speak practice.

  • There was a guy named Derrick Foster on the roster. Been there since last fall. I found that out only because he was arrested early Sunday morning outside the UConn student center, charged with criminal trespass and breach of peace. He's a walk-on, redshirt freshman from Newark, N.J. who was somewhere down the depth chart at corner back behind Darius Butler and Jasper Howard.

  • Tyler Lorenzen didn't practice, though he was throwing the ball around pretty well during breaks in the practice. Don't expect him to play Saturday.

  • There was another Tyler Lorenzen in attendance today. An 8-year old from the area sent the Huskies QB an email earlier this spring, telling him he was a UConn fan also named Tyler Lorenzen. Quarterback Tyler invited mini Tyler to practice today, then gave him a guided tour of the practice facility afterward. A really nice gesture.

  • Rob Lunn was in full pads and practicing today after what appeared to be a rolled ankle during practice on Saturday.

  • Pretty exciting 2-minute drills today. Donald Brown broke off a 50-plus yard touchdown run, mocking linebacker Scott Lutrus as he made his way into the end zone, just minutes before Eric Muchette hauled in a similarly distanced touchdown pass. D.J. Hernandez looked pretty nimble sprinting down to give him a chest-bump.

  • Kijuan Dabney and Jonathan Jean-Louis are getting most of the reps. But Hamden's Jameson Davis is working hard to earn some playing time at strong safety this spring. He's hoping to make enough of an impression during Saturday's spring game to make the coaches' decision that much harder come fall. Check tomorrow's Register for more on Davis.

  • I forgot my wallet, but Leigh Torbin and Neill Ostrout chipped in to buy me a post-practice Coke. I am eternally in their debt.

  • Avoid "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" at all costs. Unfunny, unoriginal and the topper: full-frontal male nudity. The eject button on the Malafronte family DVD player was hit in world record time. C'mon, John C. Reilly. You're better than that.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

A klutz, a rising Pole(s) and a perfect D-tackle

Plenty of tidbits coming out of today's scrimmage, and time is short. I need to get to the TV to root against Tiger Woods. So pay attention!

  • Tyler Lorenzen rolled an ankle on one of the final plays of the 2-minute drill during Thursday's practice, and sat things out on Saturday. Nothing serious, but his status for the spring game is now in question, as Edsall said Lorenzen's health is more important than the need to get him into next week's game.

  • As for circumstances of Lorenzen's injury, Edsall said, "He's a klutz and he's a non-athlete. You can print that. I told him, I'm going to tell the media you're a klutz and you're not an athlete. He laughed. I was just joking with him."

  • Edsall is a bit perturbed at the number of injuries that have occurred from non-contact this spring. Ellis Gaulden (foot), D.J. Hernandez (ankle), Steve Brouse (tendon flare-up), Isiah Moore (pulled hamstring) and Lorenzen all went down without contact. Trey Tonsing's injury injury was the result of him moving in the wrong direction on a block, Edsall said. Rob Lunn also limped off with a likely sprained ankle. "I guarantee it was because he didn't play to the whistle blew, didn't keep his feet moving," Edsall said. "Any time those things happen it's because guys don't keep moving their feet because they don't play til the whistle. The hardest hit we had (that resulted in an injury) was Mike Cox's sister jumping on him when he got hurt at home just before the spring."

  • Big day for Kevin Poles, who reeled in a pair of touchdowns. He made a nice leaping grab of a Cody Endres pass in the end zone, getting his feet down in bounds as the pass was toward the corner. Later, he caught a post from Endres and outraced the defense to the end zone. It went for about 75 yards. Gaulden, watching the day's action from a trainer's table behind the end zone, shrieked in delight as the play developed. "Poles! Poles! POLES!" he screamed as his teammate ran toward the end zone. It was like the scene in Rocky II when all the kids are jogging with Rocky through the streets of Philadelphia, and when Rocky finally sprints away from the pack that one kid screams, "Go! Go! GOOOOOOOO!" When I first watched that scene, I thought Sly Stallone was the fastest man on earth. By high school, I realized Rocky's 40 time was probably around 6.8.

  • We won't pencil Poles into Terence Jeffers old slot just yet. Asked about Poles afterward, Edsall said, "Kevin did better today. I'll leave it at that. He needs to be a lot more consistent, and needs to be a lot more physical at that position."

  • Dan Orlovsky, sporting an Ashton Kutcher-like John Deer trucker's cap with matching beard, was roaming the sidelines at the Shenkman Center today.

  • Kashif Moore caught a 75-yard touchdown pass from Zach Frazer, which set Edsall into a tirade directed at safety Robert Vaughn. Vaughn misread the play, and Edsall screamed at him for what seemed like, honestly, a solid 15 minutes. "Get me a new safety! You don't have anything sewn up! Bagsby! Get in there! Get your eyes in the right place! Where's Bagsby?!?" It went on and on like that for a while. It may still be going on. "There were situations guys didn't think the way I think they should be thinking. When you see certain individuals who've played a lot for you making mistakes, that tells me they aren't as focused because they shouldn't be making those mistakes. I told them afterward they need to understand I'm looking for perfection. I know they're not going to be perfect all the time. I know sometimes guys are going to get beat. But there are certain situations where I thought guys should react better than they did, and that's what brought about some of the stern teaching moments out there."

  • Frazer had a pretty rough day, too, catching grief from Rob Ambrose and Edsall for his tendency to throw off-balance or off the wrong foot when he has time to set his feet and throw. Asked to talk about what Frazer does wrong with his throwing technique, Edsall said, "I don't know if we have enough time to go through all that. The bottom line is he has to learn to step and throw the ball where he's going. Get his shoulders turned to the target and step directly toward the target when he throws the ball. Until we get that corrected, the others don't mean anything."

  • Edsall had a conversation with Darius Butler and asked him how much he thought Darius could contribute at wide receiver this fall. Butler told him about 15 plays a game, and Edsall agreed that was a good number. Edsall trusts Butler a lot, which is one of the reasons he was captain last fall.

  • Speaking of captains, the team will vote on Thursday and the results will be announced prior to the start of the spring game Saturday. My take: There's no reason why Keith Gray, D.J. and Butler shouldn't return. Pencil in Lorenzen for No. 4. If Edsall wants six again, I'll take a stab that it's Rob Lunn and Dahna Deleston rounding out the sextet.

  • Dave Teggart had a much better day kicking field goals than Tony Ciaravino, but Edsall says nothing will be decided this spring with his kickers.

  • Defensive tackle Alex Polito has been outstanding this spring. "He's improved leaps and bounds since last season ended," Edsall said. "Also from a leadership standpoint." Alex relayed a great story when I asked him about his attendance record at Governor Mifflin High in Shillington, Pa. Polito and a couple of his buddies didn't miss a day of school in four years. Turns out they heard kids who had four years of perfect attendance from their rival school, Wilson High, were entered into a raffle to win a brand new car. But for his Cal Ripken-esque streak of 720 straight school days without a sniffle, headache or dentist appointment, Polito received $200. "They got new cars," Polito said. "Mifflin gave us $200."

  • Edsall confirmed Marcus Campbell will return to the team in May (as was reported a few weeks ago) and he's still waiting on Brandon Dillon, also an academic casualty. Cox isn't expected to return from his sister-induced injury until a month into the season.

  • John Delahunt, a tight end straight out of the junior football leagues in Ottawa, needed a quick primer on the rules of American football. Edsall said early in the spring, Delahunt would be shifting from his right foot to his left while waiting for the snap on the line of scrimmage. "He didn't even think it was a problem," Edsall laughed. "He thought he was still in Canada playing with those Canadian rules." Edsall remarked Delahunt has exceptional hands. He also isn't afraid of contact, as he lowered his shoulder and bowled through a couple of would-be tacklers on Saturday. Still, "He has to get stronger," Edsall said.

  • Several teams have contacted Edsall about Tyvon Branch and Donald Thomas in regards to where each might end up (and in what round) for the upcoming NFL Draft. A few teams are also very interested in Danny Lansanah, Edsall said, though he declined to name teams or specifics.

  • No weird scoring for the spring game this year. It'll be first team offense and second team defense vs. second team offense and first team defense with traditional scoring. No live special teams, aside from field goals and fair-catch only on punts.

Just to clarify, I root against Tiger Woods because I'm one of the few who thinks it's more exciting when he doesn't win. That and the fact that his bouncer/caddy is perhaps the biggest ass on the planet.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Saturday Pow-Wow

It's a little odd sitting here in the bowels of Gampel Pavilion as I prepare to give you the recap of Saturday spring practice. There's some sort of American Indian festival happening on the court, with tribal drums, ceremonial dancing and chanting. Think of the Brady Bunch episode where they visit the Grand Canyon. You know, the one where Bobby and Cindy sneak hot dogs and beans hidden in a flashlight to the little Indian boy who ran away. Jeez, I'm really dating myself. Anyway, they just gave me an honorary Indian name. Armed with a couple bags of chips and a tall Arizona Iced Tea as I made my way through the procession to my work area, I'm now known as "Chief Snacks a Lot".

Here's a quick rundown of the day's practice.

  • I speculated about the offensive line changes in my last posting. Edsall confirmed them today. Zach Hurd and Mo Petrus are now the starting guards. Mike Hicks was moved to tackle. Dan Ryan and Alex LaMagdelaine (still injured) are on the second team. Hurd had a rough day, taking some dumb penalties during the scrimmage and prompting Edsall to shout "Zach! Get your head out of your ass!" Hurd, a tackle until this week, is still getting adjusted to guard. He says he checks with center Keith Gray a lot to see if he's doing the right things. "Spring is an evaluation period," Hurd said. "I'm just trying to get better every day until the fall."

  • Edsall on the changes to the o-line, "Zach and Mo deserve to be in there as the starting guards. We've been watching Mike Hicks, and just felt he was more suited to be a tackle rather than a guard. But we like the physicalness of Zach and Mo. In the end, you need to be more physical and aggressive up front. Through six practices, they're doing the things I need to see from the offensive line."

  • Andre Dixon, Steve Brouse and Trey Tonsing were among those who didn't practice. Edsall expects Dixon and Brouse back Tuesday. Tonsing will miss the remainder of the spring with a knee sprain. LaMagdelaine, suffering from a shoulder malady, may be out another week.

  • Darius Butler spent the scrimmage as a wide receiver. Edsall said he designed it so the emphasis would be on the passing game today, and that he still wants to see how Butler can help the most as a receiver. Butler couldn't be happier. "I've been trying to get in there at wide receiver since I got here," he said.

  • Robbie Frey had a great practice, busting loose for at least two long runs. With Dixon out, and Donald Brown getting a lighter load for the day, Edsall wanted to see more of Frey and Screamin' Meme Wylie. He liked both. Yianni the Greek is also catching praise with his solid play, and could be in the process of stealing time from backup Martin Bedard (who had a bad day and caught much of Edsall's wrath in the scrimmage).

  • Today was the first day for the 2-minute drill, which took up the latter half of practice. Not exactly pretty from an offensive standpoint. We'll leave it at that.

  • Ellis Gaulden had surgery on his tendon yesterday, and is expected to make a full recovery. He'll start rehab right away with the hope of being back in the fall.

  • A bunch of recruits at practice, including what seemed like half the starting squad from Don Bosco Prep in Joisey. Coach Ed McCarthy from West Haven High also had four large gentlemen in tow. Jake White, the quarterback from Foran-Milford whose been know to throw as many as 50 times in a game, was also there. He set a state record with 38 completions against North Haven last fall, throwing for over 500 yards and five TDs, and is catching interest from lots of Division I-A programs.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Three pounds makes all the difference

It's April Fools' Day. I would have conjured up some detailed, elaborate story and tried to pass it off as legitimate...and then sprung an "April Fools'!" on you at the end. But I decided against that because, well, it's just so stupid.

Just back from practice. Today was an "Edsall no speak" day, so we're a little thin on news and heavier on observations.
  • Zach Hurd has moved into a starting role on the offensive line. That was confirmed independently. Moe Petrus also played with the first team today at guard, even though he's listed on the spring roster as a center. Whether that move sticks is open for debate. Alex LaMagdelaine wasn't practicing due to what appeared to be a shoulder injury, and Dan Ryan and Mike Hicks both took reps with the first and second teams. Both Ryan and Hicks have likely been moved down, with Petrus taking over for Hicks and Hurd for Ryan. William Beatty and Keith Gray are both still with the 1's.

  • It also appears Jonathan Jean-Louis has passed Kijuan Dabney at strong safety, as he spent the whole practice with the first team, while Jasper Howard started opposite Darius Butler at cornerback while Robert McClain took snaps with the 2's.

  • Scott Lutrus and Martin Bedard were ill, and didn't attend practice. Steve Brouse was dressed, but sat out with what looked like a lower leg injury. C.J. Marck and Yianni Apostalakos played with the 1's. Yianni had a pretty good day catching the ball, and showed he's got some speed, too. Screamin' Meme Wylie also had some impressive runs. The three injured receivers, Kanuch, D.J. and Gaulden, remained out.

  • Slimmed down Donald Brown says he feels much more agile, thanks to a healed ankle and a couple of shed pounds. How much lighter is Brown? Three pounds. He's around 210, down from 213 from the fall. "A couple of pounds makes a big difference," he said. Running backs coach Terry Richardson, the designated spokesman for coaches today, said with Brown's frame and strength, he doesn't need the added bulk. "He's plenty strong," Richardson said. "Keeping him lean and quick is the way to go."

  • Robbie Frey says he is ready to make whatever contribution he can as the No. 3 back. He's stronger and heavier -- up to 195 from his listed 187 in the fall -- and is looking to peak at 200 if he can get there. "Donald runs with more power, but I have a little more speed," Frey said. "That's one of the things that makes our backfield so unique. We do different things and that has its advantages."