The sidelines at the Shenkman Center are usually devoid of civilians, save for us media types and an occasional handful of high school recruits with their parents. On Saturday, we were greeted by high school coach-a-palooza. Roughly 500 high school coaches lined the entire outline of the practice field as part of UConn's annual seminar. It was a sea of khaki pants and windbreakers (no coaches' shorts, however...a bit chilly outside for that polyester fashion staple of the football coaching profession, I suppose). Andy Baylock, who organizes the event, said every New England state plus New York, New Jersey and even 37 Canadian coaches were represented. It wasn't easy to get a view of Saturday's controlled scrimmage, but here's a few other observations.
- D.J. Hernandez didn't practice, but seems to be getting along pretty well in his walking cast. He dressed in shorts minus the pads, and even jogged through a couple of routes prior to the scrimmage. No doubt he'll be fine in a few weeks.
- Your starting receivers on Saturday? Kashif Moore, Marcus Easley and Rob Theoudele. Kashif has some speed. Easley could haul in a few passes this year. Theoudele would like his name pronounced as Toe-DEAL, not Toe-DELL.
- Expect the competition to replace Dahna Deleston at strong safety to be fierce. Kijuan Dabney has the inside edge now, but Jonathan Jean-Louis is nipping at his heels. Both had some big hits Saturday, though Jean-Louis had a nasty pop on ... I believe ... Robbie Frey. Edsall isn't ready to heap praise on either, as both have a long way to go, but I think he's pleased with what both can bring to the table.
- Zach Frazer had an off day and caught Edsall's ire, just two days after he laid into Tyler Lorenzen. Neither has exactly been gangbusters so far, but they're also limited with so many receivers on the shelf. Edsall has also been shuffling his running backs when one isn't getting the job done to his liking. He's sent a few messages this spring. "We're looking at that competition phase of it, and it's a way to keep people motivated. If a guy doesn't go out and perform, people know we won't hesitate to put someone else in. There's more guys able to step in and make a contribution. Plus, guys have to know that even though they've been starters, there are guys breathing down their necks."
- The running back depth seems very deep and very talented. Everyone knows what Donald Brown and Andre Dixon are capable of, but I like what I've seen from Robbie Frey and Screamin' Meme Wylie. Even Nate Sherr pulled off an impressive run last week, making a pretty cut back on a 90-yard TD run. Expect to see Brown and Dixon on the field together in some sets.
- Donald Brown has dropped a few pounds from last fall, and Edsall says it's made a world of difference in the early spring. Andre Dixon, on the other hand, just can't seem to gain weight. Edsall said he'd like to see him a little bulkier, but it's not something that a week of buffalo wings and Krispy Kreme's will cure. "Good weight," Edsall said. "We want him to put on good weight."
- Every time I see Robert Vaughn do something on the field for UConn, I automatically think of the law firm of Mark E. Salomone and Morelli. Maybe since that damned commercial is aired 1,000 times per day in Connecticut has something to do with it. However, I love that they were forced to put a disclaimer at the bottom of those ads stating that "actor Robert Vaughn is a paid spokesman." I envision tons of potential customers expecting to be represented by the debonair actor demanding an explanation when some schlub comes out to greet them. "Hey! You're not Mark E. Salomone!" ... (Robert Vaughn the UConn football player is doing just fine, by the way.)
Warning: This is not attorney Mark E. Salomone.
No official spring depth charts have been released, but here's what they would look like, best as I can tell. (Only players in camp included).
WR: Isiah Moore - Kashif Moore
WR: D.J. Hernandez (injured) - Marcus Easley
WR: Brad Kanuch - Rob Theoudele
LT: William Beatty - Mike Ryan
LG: Alex LaMagdelaine - Gary Bardzak
C: Keith Gray - Trey Tonsing
RG: Mike Hicks - Mathieu Olivier
RT: Dan Ryan - Zach Hurd
TE: Steve Brouse - Martin Bedard - Yianni the Greek OR John Delahunt
QB: Tyler Lorenzen - Zach Frazer - Cody Endres
TB: Donald Brown OR Andre Dixon - Robbie Frey - Screamin' Meme Wylie
FB: Anthony Davis OR Anthony Sherman
DE: Cody Brown - Hard Hittin' Lindsey Witten
DT: Rob Lunn - Scott Shultz - Jarrell Miller
DT: Alex Polito - Twyon Martin - Danny Russell
DE: Julius Williams - Kendall Reyes - Oliver Bernson
SLB: Dahna Deleston - Greg Robinson - Corey Stringer
MLB: Scott Lutrus - C.J. Marck - Aaron Bryant
WLB: Lawrence Wilson - Greg Lloyd - Matt Ashmeade
LCB: Darius Butler - Jasper Howard - Derek Foster
SS: Kijuan Dabney - Jonathan Jean-Louis - Jameson Davis
FS: Robert Vaughn - Aaron Bagsby - Glen Mourning
RCB: Robert McClain - Terry Baltimore - Harris Abgor OR Gary Wilburn