Monday, March 04, 2013

Cersosimo excited about new challenge

When spring practice kicks off a week from today there is probably not a position which will garner more attention than the cornerbacks.

So much of what the defensive coaching staff has been able to do in the last couple of seasons had a lot of do with the ability of cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh-Wilson to lock up on the outside receivers. Their coverage skills and reliability enabled UConn to be more aggressive in sending linebackers on blitzes. However, with the departure of Gratz and Wreh-Wilson leaves two gaping holes to fill in UConn's defense. Add in the fact that Don Brown, who coached the cornerbacks as well as being the defensive coordinator, is also gone.

Now UConn was a relatively inexperienced group of corner prospects while former UConn receiving coach Matt Cersosimo moved over to defense to coach the corners.

Cersosimo, who spent the last seven seasons coaching receivers at UConn, is eager for spring ball to get started so he can see how the cornerbacks perform.

"I am very excited, it gives me the opportunity to go on the defensive side of the ball and become a little bit more well rounded as a coach," Cersosimo said. "I have only coached offense but I played defense in college (at Springfield College) so I get a chance to go back there and a lot of things I did are starting to come back in my mind that I have stored away since I have been on offense.

"It is a great group of kids that I am able to work with. i am looking forward to the opportunity in spring ball to be able to work with them, go through the whole process with them on a daily basis, the meetings, get the chance to review film and all the things that go along with that."

Rising senior Taylor Mack is the most experienced of the returning corners. Another top prospect at the position is David Stevenson, who was a star in the 2012 spring game.

"Stevenson on travel squad, it is not like he is new," Cersosimo said, "(Jhavon)Williams, Ellis Marder, Tyree Clark, we have a young group of guys they have been in some games before, they have been there, done that and it is just an opportunity to trying to get them acclimated to what we are doing defensively, have great technique and make sure they are holding true to their responsibilities."

UConn also brought in a pair of cornerback prospects in Javon Hadley and Tom Lucas but they aren't among the early enrollees so neither one will take part in spring drills.

Obviously UConn probably won't be able to put these group of corners out on islands as much as they did with Gratz and Wreh-Wilson.

"A lot of that will be answered in spring practice," Cersosimo said. "We will get a chance to put those guys in the situation and see how well they react in those situations and see if it is something they can excel at. If it is that is something we can potentially look at as a staff and say this could be a strength of ours and if  it isn't it is something we will work on until we get really good at it."

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