Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Manuel encouraged by what he has seen in preseason camp

UConn director of athletics Warde Manuel, a former defensive tackle at Michigan, makes it out to UConn practice whenever he can fit it into his schedule and he has liked what he has seen this summer.

"They are working hard, learning and preparing every day so I am excited with what I see," Manuel said after appearing at the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce's August meeting. "I think the student-athletes,  they are all getting tired around this time of practicing against each other and hitting each other but the effort and what the coaches is getting them to learn is all good to see and I am really pleased with what I have seen."

While last year's team was a senior-laden squad, there are quite a few of few freshmen and sophomores in positions to see significant action this season.

"You have to step up," Manuel said. "It is the next player, the next year, the next down and you have to step up and be prepared. I am very excited with what I am seeing. What you hope to see is that talent will take over some of the learning stuff but you still have to learn. There’s no substitute for reps in practice and in games but I am very pleased with what I am seeing and very excited with how we are approaching the season and how everything is coming together."

Manuel is thrilled with the non-conference schedule which kicks off next Thursday against Towson followed by games against Maryland and Michigan before playing the road opener against Buffalo.

"That is the plan," Manuel said. "We don’t go in taking any game lightly and there are some tough opponents who are coming in and that is what our fans want to see but more importantly, that is who our student-athletes want to play against. They want to play against the best and are preparing to do that. Towson is going to be a great start to the season, they had a great season last year and we will move forward with that."

In a perfect world Jordan Fuchs, Jamar Summers, Chasz Wright, Jalan Branford and Chris Britton would be up at UConn working alongside the rest of the talented group of true freshmen.

However, there weren't enough scholarship slots for all of them so the plan is for the aforementioned quintet to spend the fall semester at prep schools before enrolling at UConn in January.

The journey begins on Saturday as Fuchs, Summers and Wright are expected to be in uniform when Milford Academy hosts Globe Institute at 4 p.m.

A source close to the situation said that Britton is expected to enroll at Fork Union and the Reading (Pa.) Eagle reported back in June that Branford was heading to Fork Union.

However, in an email to the Register Fork Union postgraduate football coach Col. John Shuman said neither player is currently in camp and therefore won't be playing in Friday's season opener against the Apprentice School.

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