Sunday, March 10, 2013

Getting ready for opening of spring drills

UConn will kickoff spring practice bright and early tomorrow. As is the case every year there are some positions that will draw more interest than others.

A year ago the focus was on the quarterback position. However, with Chandler Whitmer having established himself as the No. 1 guy, I think other less glamorous positions figure to garner more attention.

Here are five positions which have caught my attention:

1. CORNERBACK: The graduation of starters and NFL prospects Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh-Wilson leave a pair of gaping holes for defensive coordinator Hank Hughes and new cornerbacks coach Matt Cersosimo to replace. Taylor Mack is the most experienced returning corner, David Stephenson was a standout in the 2012 spring game while Jhavon Williams earned praise with his work in practice as a true freshman. Another potential name to look out for is starting safety Byron Jones. There were rumblings late last season that Jones could shift to corner and it should be noted that while fellow starting safety Ty-Meer Brown is listed as a safety on the roster, Jones is listed as a defensive back.

2. OUTSIDE LINEBACKER: The loss of Sio Moore and Jory Johnson will be eased somewhat by Florida transfer Graham Stewart and return of Ryan Donohue. Jefferson Ashiru is a sophomore who is expected to make an impact this season.

3. TIGHT END: While reinforcements are coming in the fall with three incoming freshmen, the four tight ends on the roster have all spring to put themselves in position to be the replacements for Ryan Griffin and John Delahunt. Glastonbury's Sean McQuillan and special teams standout Spencer Parker are among the candidates to keep an eye on.

4. DEFENSIVE END: Replacing career sacks leader Trevardo Williams will be no easy task but having Jesse Joseph back for a fifth season of eligibility is a major plus. Also, with all the injuries on the defensive line last season, plenty of returning players were able to get plenty of varsity snaps including E.J. Norris and Tim Willman. Willman is now listed as a defensive tackle and a versatile player like Angelo Pruitt can also play multiple positions on the line.

5. BACKUP QUARTERBACK: As is the case at tight end, the influx of talented freshmen in the fall will change the dynamics of the position. This could be a chance for former Masuk High star Casey Cochran to make an impact before the talented freshmen arrive.


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