With UConn not having a game this weekend, I took the opportunity to drive up to Dean College to catch up with Rennick Bryan, who began the summer practicing with the Huskies before academic issues resulted in him heading to the junior college.
Bryan, who was seeing some snaps with the second-team offensive line by the end of the first week of practice during preseason camp, made it clear that he still wants to play at UConn. He is planning to take enough summer school classes at Dean so he can graduate from Dean by December of 2014.
“If my home university wants me back, I will go back to the University of Connecticut,” Bryan said.“That is my goal and that is what I want to get back to, going back to UConn. I’ll be taking summer classes here hopefully doing a year and a half and be there by second semester of (2014).”
Bryan has been starting at guard at Dean but he was dealing with some injuries which limited him to blocking only on extra points and field goals.
Through his entire ordeal, Bryan has maintained a positive attitude.
“It was been a change,” Bryan said after Dean College’s 44-6 win over Globe Institute of Technology. “It’s been a dramatic change being at UConn and coming to a junior college but I just had to adapt and rise to the occasion and do what I had to do here and be a better player.
“My emotions, I’ll admit I was down but I knew I had to be a man and clear my mind of things. I knew I had to focus what I wanted to focus on. I still had to come to another school, I still had to do my school work and I still had to play football no matter what. Yes, I was down and I had to step up to the occasion.”
Bryan and his family drew rave reviews from Dean College football coach Todd Vasey on the way they have dealt with the suddenness of going from UConn to Dean.
“He (Bryan) has handled it great,” Vasey said. “He and his family have been fantastic. They come here and are making this work. As long as he needs to be here, we are going to get him back to UConn. Jason Sylva was offered by UConn, he is going to get his Associates (degree) and then we are going to get him back to UConn.”
If he does end up back at UConn, he could see some familiar faces. Dean’s sophomore defensive tackle Lance Burlingame, who missed Saturday’s game with an ankle injury, has committed to UConn. Freshman middle linebacker Jason Sylva also signed with UConn in February and came to Dean with the hope of being able to suit up for the Huskies after graduating from Dean.
UConn defensive coordinator Don Brown was at Dean on Friday and Dean head coach Todd Vasey is determined to help Bryan and Sylva get back to UConn for their junior and senior seasons.
Bryan said he still keeps in touch with his former teammates at UConn and is eager to head up there to visit.
“That is my Husky family,” Bryan said. “I love them and I will be making a visit up there to say hi to my fellow teammates. Hopefully I will be back over there soon. It is tough to watch them struggle because being with them with the whole camp and during the summer. They work and every Saturday I hope to see them step up their game and get better, get hungrier and just win. I’ll be glad to go back there and help them out with that.”
Vasey was reluctant to say if there were there other players from Dean the Huskies are looking at.
It's just my opinion, but the best player on the field was uncommitted sophomore defensive end Rashard Simmons. I had Simmons with three sacks and four tackles for losses but he seemed to be in the backfield on nearly every play. Simmons is listed as being 6-5 and 227 pounds and looks like he could easily add 15-20 pounds onto his frame and be a dynamic edge rusher at the next level.
FORMER AREA STARS THRIVING AT DEAN
Bryan is far from the only former Southern Connecticut Conference star who has found a home at Dean.
DaShon Riley and Byron Pinkston, who played at Hillhouse and Hamden respectively, are two-year starters at offensive tackle while former Law High star Chris Laporte started at left guard for a Dean team which ran for 253 yards and had 416 yards of total offense in Saturday’s win.
“They are my boys, I didn’t really know them until I got here but we are like brothers now,” Pinkston said.
Of the 12 offensive linemen on Dean’s roster, six played scholastically in the New Haven area.
“We love the high school talent in Connecticut,” Vasey said. “We go down and try to get the best guys we can that need a junior-college opportunity. We are working with UConn, we work with Southern, New Haven, they recruit our guys and they help us so we are all working together.”
Former Sheehan High star Maxx Frisco is a starting linebacker who had four tackles in Dean’s sixth win of the year.
All the local products came to Dean with the hopes of securing a football scholarship. Pinkston’s dreams are close to becoming a reality as he was recently offered a full ride to Florida Atlantic University. The others also hope to catch the eyes of major college football program.
“This is probably New Haven’s finest right here,” Riley said. “We have to get everything together and get ready for the next level hopefully.”
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