Wednesday, February 25, 2009

T-minus three weeks til spring ball

Had the chance to chat with a few players at the Shenkman Center this afternoon. More in the paper tomorrow -- the New Haven Register will be around for a while -- but here's a little on UConn's running game.

  • Andre Dixon knows he nearly blew his college football career after his DUI arrest in December. He says he's planning to be a leader for his fifth and final season. "Everyone has bumps in the road," Dixon said. "I just fell a lot farther than most people. I had every opportunity to do more, to push myself and to push others last year, and I felt I left some things on the table and let others pass me. This year there's no more holding back. I know this is my last time around, and I'll do whatever it takes to make the most of it. I'm dedicated to being a UConn football player; to being a student-athlete."

  • Jordan Todman says he's added 10 pounds to muscle to his frame, and weighs in at 195. He still wants to get to about 200 for the season. With Donald Brown and his 25-30 carries-per game on its way to the NFL, there's more work available for the running backs. The added pounds, he feels, will help him better survive the pounding. "Last year, I could feel (the need for more strength) when I was pass blocking and on some runs up the middle," Todman said. "I felt if I had a little more weight maybe I could have broken some more tackles." He says he knows when enough is enough, and won't compromise his speed and quickness for bulk.

  • Most who followed the NFL Scouting Combine have seen the glowing reports already, so this isn't exactly news, but both a scout and an agent who were in Indianapolis over the weekend told me Donald Brown and Will Beatty have both entered first-round projection territory, and that Darius Butler may not be far behind. Two years ago, the same scout told me Beatty was going to have the NFL big wigs swooning. At the time, I screamed, "Get some facts, and come see me. GET SOME FACTS, AND COME SEE ME!" Not really. But I wondered if that was some scouting hyperbole. I still think scouts put too much emphasis on things that don't really matter (i.e. 40-times run in gym shorts and track shoes, bench reps of 225, vertical leap, etc.)...but I think this one is on to something.

  • If someone told me in 1984 that in 25 years, the defining actor of my generation would be the guy who played Jeff Spicoli, I would have started taking acting classes myself.

I'm going to cut things a little short. I need to do some digging on how to solve the state's budget crisis, because apparently that's what we UConn beat writers need to be doing more of. More in the coming days and weeks (though I can't guarantee it will all be football news).

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Remedial Drive-Thru 101

Alright. Do things like this happen to everyone, or just me? I dropped the little guy off at day care this morning and headed over to the Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru for my morning coffee. The car in front of me was stopped at an odd angle, about 8 feet short of the order box. Wondering what was going on, it occurred to me after a couple of minutes that the blue-haired old woman at the wheel was giving her order to a garbage can.

Realizing this could last for the better part of the morning -- the window was around the bend from the order box, and the workers had no way of knowing the drive thru was backed up -- I knew I needed to remedy the situation. So I got out of my car and walked over to her window.

The nice old lady looked up at me and said, "Are you here to take my order?"

"Um, no. I'm in the car behind you. You have to pull up a few feet. This is a garbage bin."

"Oh, my. I thought the speaker was broken," she said.

"That's OK. Let's just be happy no one answered you from in there."

Problem solved. Consider that my good Samaritan act of the day.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Introducing the Class of 2013 (or 2014).

For the folks who aren't going to the reception at the Runway tonight, here's what Randy Edsall had to say about the incoming class along with some other notes.
  • Of the 21 recruits, 18 will enroll on June 28 for summer classes. Trevardo Williams, Keensen Chambers and Jesse Joseph are already in school. Edsall said Williams has surprised him with how much stronger he's gotten during the time he spent at Canterbury. "He's the closest, strength wise, to having an opportunity," Edsall said. Joseph needs to improve his strength, and Chambers is in a cast after recent wrist surgery, and won't be lifting for a while.

  • Wide receiver was one of the main (if not the biggest) concerns for improvement, and UConn responded with four recruits of all sizes. Dwayne Difton could be the impact player in the group. He played for St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale, the top high school program in the nation this fall, where Cris Carter, the former Vikings star, coached the receivers. Edsall said he has, "tremendous speed" and watched his workout coming away "very impressed." Malik Generett, at 6-foot-5, was called "a winner and a leader," by Edsall. He led his William Penn (York, Pa.) football team to the playoffs, and is captain of the basketball team, currently 22-0.

  • Leon Kinnard, just 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, will be a quarterback at UConn until he says he doesn't want to be a quarterback anymore, Edsall said. Michael Box, the other quarterback recruit, has the more traditional 6-foot-3 frame. Both can throw the ball and maneuver in the pocket, Edsall said, traits the Huskies want for their offensive leaders.

  • Most of the class was born in 1991, meaning they've grown up knowing UConn as a Division I-A program. For the in-state players, it's viewed as a successful program (as opposed to an upstart) where all their goals can be accomplished. "We're getting to the point where a lot of kids understand they can flourish here, in-state kids especially," Edsall said. "If they haven't seen that, they're missing the boat. Because when you have a chance to be this close to home, and have your friends and family come and see you play all the time. And you can be an All-American here, because it's been done, and you can be a Rhodes Scholar candidate here, because it's been done, and you can win a Big East championship here, it's been done, you can get to the NFL from here, it can get done. Kids are starting to understand that. We need the coaches in this state to understand that because with the facilities and everything we have, you don't need to go anywhere else. Hopefully, we'll get more and more of the state kids to stay here at home."

  • Seymour's Mike Osiecki, the Gatorade State Player of the Year, comes from a football family. His dad starred at Ansonia, Arizona State and spent time in the NFL. His brother is a preferred walk-on quarterback at Louisville. In the mold of Mike Hicks, Eric Kuraczea, Edsall is beginning to love the Naugatuck Valley. "He is the epitome of the word football player," Edsall said. "Whatever (coach Paul Sponheimer) asked him to do, he'd go and do. He played tailback and middle linebacker, and never came off the field. He's one of those tough valley kids and gets the most out of his abilities."

  • It still hasn't been decided if Nick Williams, listed as an athlete, will play on offense or defense. Edsall said he doesn't foresee any two-way players ala Darius Butler. But Williams' main contributions will be as a return man, another area the coaches targeted for improvement.

  • Keep an eye on Martin Hyppolite, the tailback recruit from Wakefield, Mass. At 6-foot, 215-pounds and great lower-body strength, Edsall said he reminded him of a certain tailback about to leave the program early for the NFL. "We weren't certain if we were going to recruit a tailback," Edsall said. "With Donald out, Martin was at the top of our list. He has tremendous balance and strong legs. He reminds me of the guy leaving in terms of his balance and lower body strength. He's a guy we're excited about."

Signing Day

Here is the official list of recruits who signed today, with their official UConn bios at the end.

I'll be headed up to the Runway shortly.

UConn Athletic Communications – February 4, 2009 – Football Letter Of Intent
STORRS, Conn. (February 4, 2009) - University of Connecticut head football coach Randy Edsall announced on Wednesday that the Huskies have signed 21 student-athletes to a National Letter of Intent to join the UConn program.
Student-athletes in UConn’s 2009 signing class hail from 10 different states (and Canada).
The following is a full signee roster and biography of each:

Name Pos. Hgt. Wt. Hometown/High School/Prep School
Aiken, Marcus WR 6-1 175 New Britain, Conn./St. Paul (Bristol)
Brandon, Tevrin DB 5-9 180 Bethlehem, Pa./Bethlehem Catholic
Box, Michael QB 6-3 195 Suwanee, Ga./Collins Hill
Bullock, Tyler OL 6-4 250 Mechanicsburg, Pa./ Mechanicsburg
Chambers, Keensen DE 6-5 230 Greenville, S.C./Southside/Worcester
Academy (Mass.)
Christen, Chad K-P 6-1 190 Etters, Pa./Red Land
Difton, Dwayne WR 5-11 175 Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas
Friend, Kevin OL 6-5 260 Warrenton, Va./Faquier
Generett, Malik WR 6-5 210 York, Pa./ William Penn
Greene, Steve OL 6-5 311 Edensburg, Pa./Bishop Carroll
Hyppolite, Martin RB 6-0 215 Wakefield, Mass./Wakefield
Joseph, Jesse DE 6-4 235 Lavel, Quebec/Northeast Philadelphia
(Pa.)/Vanier Prep
Kenney, David SS 6-0 205 Highstown, N.J./The Peddie School
Kinnard , Leon QB 5-9 180 Reistertown, Md./Loyola Blakefield
Lang, Michael WR 6-0 180 Largo, Fla./Largo
Lopes, Chris DB 5-10 190 Brockton, Mass./Tilton School (N.H.)
Osiecki, Michael LB 6-2 225 Seymour, Conn./ Seymour
Stephen, Shamar DT 6-5 260 Brookville, N.Y./Long Island Lutheran
Williams, Nick ATH 5-10 180 East Windsor, N.J./The Hun School
Williams, Trevardo DE 6-3 220 Bridgeport, Conn./Central/Canterbury
School (Conn.)
Willman, Tim DT 6-4 245 Fulton, Md./Reservoir

MARCUS AIKEN – Played wide receiver, running back and defensive back during his scholastic career….as a senior, rushed for 1,000 yards and 15 TDs with 19 receptions for 253 yards and three TDs…team went 9-2 overall in ’08…as a junior, rushed for 933 on 122 carries and had 31 receptions for 476 yards….had 213 rushing yards with three TDs in junior year vs. Wilcox Tech…two-time All-Nutmeg conference pick…third team all-state pick by the New Haven Register …team captain…also plays basketball and track…in spring of 2008, won state Class S championship in 300-meter hurdles in record time of 39.15..was also second in 110-meter hurdles…born February 5, 1991.

TEVRIN BRANDON - 2008 all-state honorable mention and second team All-(Lehigh Valley) The Express-Times All-Area… intercepted eight passes and made 51 tackles as senior… named first team all-conference his junior year after making 51 tackles and five interceptions also ran track in high school, making the first team all-area his sophomore and junior years …born December 9, 1990.

MICHAEL BOX – Played his senior season at Collins Hill and led team to 8-3 record…had school-record 1,561 yards of passing as a senior, including 286 yards in one game for a school record….two-time Gwinnett County Player of the Month…second team all-region…threw for 1,005 and four touchdowns as a junior at Duluth (Ga.) High School and rushed for 540 yards and three TDs…as a sophomore, had 781 passing yards as a sophomore…played in the Gwinnett County All-Star Game…born November 19, 1990.

TYLER BULLOCK -- Named a First Team The Sentinel (Cumberland County, Pa.) All-Star and to the AAA All-State Associated Press second team as a senior…team captain…two-time (Harrisburg) Patriot News All-Star…also played tight end and defensive end in high school…team finished 12-1 in 2008 with their only loss coming in the state quarterfinals…born July 10, 1990.

KEENSEN CHAMBERS – Enrolled at UConn this January after spending the fall semester at Worcester Academy….was a New England Prep School Athletic Conference All-Star this past fall…at Southside High School, was an all-county pick in 2007 and two-time all-region pick…played basketball as team won Class AA State Championship in 2007…named to all-tournament team…was awarded a Pepsi-Greenville County Schools Golf Tournament Scholarship following his senior year for community involvement…named to The National Society of High School Scholars…born June 16, 1990.

CHAD CHRISTEN – Named Class AAA First Team All-State and first team All-Mid Penn Conference selection…had a long field goal of 49 yards as a senior and 50 yards as a junior…had seven field goals in both his junior and senior seasons…averaged 42.8 yards per punt as a senior – improving from 38.5 as a junior…in three years as a starter, registered 83 touchbacks on kickoffs….was also team’s starting quarterback as a senior…born September 9, 1990.

DWAYNE DIFTON – Named first team All-Broward County by the Miami Herald and second team All-Broward County by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel as a senior…ranked 13 th top recruit in Broward County by Sun-Sentinel …St. Thomas Aquinas finished the season as top-ranked high school football team in the country by USA Today …team was 2007 and ‘08 5A State Champions…had 25 receptions for 414 yards (16.6 average) and five TDs in the 2008 regular season…also had a 34-yard rush during season…caught a TD pass in his team’s 56-7 victory in the 2008 state championship game…had eight receptions for 134 yards and two TDs in three postseason games….had four receptions for 121 yards and a TD in win against Cincinnati Elder in Kirk Herbstreit Classic played at Paul Brown Stadium…team averaged 426 yards of total offense per game… as a junior, had 19 receptions for 276 yards and two TDs…born February 15, 1990.

KEVIN FRIEND – First team All-Cedar Run District pick as a senior and second team all-region…team MVP and captain…is highly-ranked wrestler in the heavyweight division and is ranked second in the state…born July 12, 1990.

MALIK GENERETT- First team all-state in 2008 by Associated Press and Pennsylvania Football News … named 2008 Tri-Player of the Year in the York Adams Interscholastic Athletic Association… named first team all-league twice…selected to play in Big 33 All-Star game…864 receiving yards as a senior captain…team captain…switched from quarterback to wide receiver midway through his junior season…45 receptions for 933 yards and 11 TDs his senior year, an average of 20.7 yards per reception…as a junior, after position switch, had 21 receptions for 420 yards and four TDs…attended same high school as current Husky Zac Zielinski and ’08 grad William Beatty…born October 6, 1989.

STEVE GREENE – Two-time Associated Press Class A first team all-state selection in Pennsylvania on the offensive line…2008 first team all-state pick by Pennsylvania Football News (Class A) and first team all-conference by the Altoona Mirror …also played defense as a senior and made 42 tackles…team captain…also plays basketball and football…selected to play for Pennsylvania in the Big 33 All-Star Game in June 2009..born December 13, 1990.

MARTIN HYPPOLITE – Set single-season school records as a senior with 1,639 rushing yards with 29 TDs…also is school’s career leader in rushing yards with 2,850 yards and is the leading scorer with 269….had five touchdowns in two different games this year and four TDs in was 8-1 in senior year…had 19 receptions for 318 yards and four TDs as a senior….also return kicks and punts…rushed for 1,013 yards as a junior…first team all-state pick…averaged 9.6 yards per carry as a senior….team captain…named to 2008 All-Scholastic team by both The Boston Globe and Boston Herald … born June 17, 1990.

JESSE JOSEPH – Enrolled at UConn in January of 2009…was team captain and all-league pick….invited to 2007 Team Quebec camp…team was 2006 and ’07 Bol d'Or Trophy champions, which goes to the winner of the Canadian Prep Triple-A football league champions…from same prep school as current Husky Moe Petrus…a Canadian native who graduated from Northeast Philadelphia High School in 2006…will have five years of eligibility to compete in four at UConn.

DAVID KENNEY – Was named first team all-conference all-prep as a junior… named New Jersey-New York All-Star as a senior…born September 18, 1990.

LEON KINNARD – Second team all-state pick as a junior…was honorable mention all-state as a sophomore and senior…as a senior, was named second team all-metro from the Baltimore Sun and All-Baltimore County…first team all-metro and all-county as junior ….as a sophomore in 2005, was 103 for 185 in the air for 1,415 yards and 11 TDs..also rushed for 303 yards and 11 TDs…as a junior in 2006, threw for 1,489 yards with 13 touchdowns as team won state title… team went 11-0 in senior year….team captain…was selected to play in 2008 Maryland Crab Bowl between all-stars from Maryland and Washington, D.C., but missed game because of injury…born February 9, 1991.

MICHAEL LANG – Had 38 receptions for 960 yards and nine TDs as a senior….the yards and TDs were school single-season records….team advanced to state semifinals …had two receptions in state semifinals…team captain…also played defensive back in high school….First Team All-Suncoast by St. Petersburg Times …First Team All-Pinellas County by St. Petersburg Times … as a junior, had a 75-yard interception return for a TD in state playoff game…played in 2008 Florida North-South All-Star Game…born December 24, 1990.

CHRIS LOPES – Helped lead Tilton to an undefeated season in 2007 and win its first-ever New England Prep School Athletic Conference Super Bowl appearance….had 10 receptions for 350 yards and five TDs….had 60 tackles as a defensive back…had a 23-yard TD reception in Super Bowl….team went 7-2 in 2008 and played in Super Bowl again…was an All-Evergreen League pick and All-New England selection in 2008…originally attended Brockton High School…was a Boston Globe All-Scholastic pick and Big Three League All-Star in 2006…born January 5, 1990.

MICHAEL OSIECKI – 2008 Gatorade State Player of the Year in Connecticut….also earned first team all-state honors from the New Haven Register …two-time first team All-Naugatuck Valley League…team advanced to state Class SS final as a senior…also played fullback in high school, rushing for 1,774 yards and 26 TDs on 199 carries and catching 25 passes for 419 yards and six TDs as a senior…second team all-state his junior year…team captain…born June 14, 1991.

SHAMAR STEPHEN – Had 57 tackles in senior year with 12 sacks….had two blocked field goals…team captain…team went 7-2 in senior year…also plays basketball…..First Team All-American Lutheran Team…born February 25, 1991.

NICK WILLIAMS – Named 2008 Trenton Times Player of the Year…team captain and MVP…all-conference on both offense and defense as a junior and senior and all-conference on defense as a sophomore…as a junior, made 50 tackles with three interceptions….had 11 interceptions as a sophomore…born November 23, 1990.

TREVARDO WILLIAMS – Enrolled at UConn in January of 2009…named to the 2007 all-state team by both the Hartford Courant and the New Haven Register…a two-time all-conference selection…on the track, placed second in New England in the 100 meters in 2007...lived in Jamaica until 1999…born December 31, 1990.

TIM WILLMAN – First-team all-league selection…honorable mention all-state…named to the Howard County Times All-County team…named to the National Football Foundation Baltimore Chapter Academic All-State team…played in 2008 Maryland Crab Bowl between all-stars from Maryland and Washington, D.C….grandfather Lou Cavallo of Wallingford graduated from UConn in mid-50s…born November 23, 1990.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

New season ticket plan

My apologies for there being no updates on the blog in a while. I purchased a set of ShamWow's, and have spent the past month cleaning various spills around the house in astonished amazement, unable to function in a normal capacity. Or maybe it was simply hearing that creepy ShamWow salesman's voice over and over and over.

Seriously, thanks to those who sent prayers and well wishes, and others for being patient. There was a potentially serious medical issue we had to deal with, and it was a scary couple of weeks. But everything is about as good as it can be right now. The blog will have updates more regularly, though it is typically slow for the six weeks from signing day to the start of spring practice.

There was some news today regarding football tickets. In the current economic crisis, UConn announced a new plan on season tickets prices for the new three-year cycle.

"We've been working on it the past 12-15 months," UConn AD Jeff Hathaway said. "As we've wrapped up this process, the crunch has really been felt the last three to four months. We felt there were areas that needed to be tweaked ... to be sold out on a season ticket basis."

Hathaway said the goal is 34,000 season ticket sales (it was 28,000 last fall) in hopes of selling out every home game. He also said there are no immediate plans for stadium expansion.

Here's the press release.

STORRS, Conn. (February 3, 2009) – The University of Connecticut Division of Athletics has announced prices for football season tickets for a new three-year cycle, which covers the 2009-2011 seasons.

Included in this ticket plan, are new pricing points for “club” and “chairback” seats at Rentschler Field.

Season tickets may be purchased at the Online Ticketing Center at or by calling the UConn Athletic Ticket Office at 1-877-AT-UCONN.

UConn has sold football season tickets at Rentschler Field in the “club” and “chairback” locations in three-year cycles since the stadium first opened in 2003. The first cycle ran from 2003-2005, the second from 2006-2008 and the third starts with the 2009 season through 2011. All seats that are purchased with a three-year committment, which include club, chairback, preferred and the option on reserved, come with the same seat location for all three years.

There has not been a ticket price increase at Rentschler Field since the stadium first opened; however, seat donations for various locations did increase from the first cycle to the second cycle.

In the first two ticket cycles at Rentschler Field, all “chairback” seats were sold at one price with one standard annual seat donation regardless of their location. This will change in the 2009-2011 cycle. In the three-year ticket cycle that was just completed – all chairback season tickets were priced at $210 (based on six home games) and a seat donation of $650 for a total of $860 per seat.

Chairback season tickets will now be offered in three pricing categories – lower, mezzanine and upper.

The lower chairbacks are the chairback seats in the lower bowl of Rentschler Field. In this new three-year cycle, a lower chairback season ticket will cost $210 (based on six home games) and a seat donation of $500 for a total of $710 per seat and a savings of 17 percent from the last cycle.

The mezzanine chairbacks are the chairback seats in the first 15 rows of the upper bowl at Rentschler Field. In this new three-year cycle, a mezzanine chairback season ticket will cost $210 (based on six home games) and a seat donation of $400 for a total of $610 per seat and a savings of 29 percent from the last cycle.

The upper chairback seats are the chairback seats in rows 16 and above of the upper bowl at Rentschler Field. In the new three-year cycle, an upper chairback season ticket will cost $210 (based on six home games) and a seat donation of $225 for a total of $435 per seat and a savings of 49 percent from the last cycle.

In addition, club seat pricing will be reduced in this cycle. In the last cycle, club seats cost $240 (based on six home games) and a seat donation of $1,400 for a total of $1,640. In this cycle, club seats will cost $360 (based on six home games) and a seat donation of $900 for a total cost of $1,260 and a savings of 23 percent from last season.

There are approximately 600 club seats available for sale, 4,000 chairback seats and 13,000 preferred seats. All these plans include a seat donation. There are nearly 11,000 seats available in the stadium that do not require a donation --- Reserved, Family Plan and Young Alumni. The balance of the seats are sold to UConn students, the visiting team and are accessible seating.

Pricing for the season tickets is guaranteed through April 30. Seat donations are guaranteed through life of three-year cycle. The purchase of a pair of chairback tickets includes one free blue parking pass. An additional blue pass may be purchased with the ordering of another pair of tickets. For each pair of club seats ordered, one free gold parking pass is included.

Seat Location 2008 Total Price 2009 Total Price Savings Change
*Club $1,640 $1,260 $380 -23%
*Chairback-Lower $860 $710 $150 -17%
*Chairback-Mezzanine $860 $610 $250 -29%
*Chairback-Upper $860 $435 $425 -49%
*Preferred $300 $300 -- --
Reserved $150 $150 -- --
Family Plan $150/$90 $150/$90 -- --
Young Alumni $96 $96 -- --
* Price includes both tickets and tax-deductable seat donation

Notes: For the past six seasons, chairback seats were sold as one section; ticket prices guaranteed through April 30; club and chairback seats must be purchased through a three-year commitment.