Friday, August 23, 2013

Walsh is in select company

When UConn released its depth chart for the season-opening game against Towson yesterday and former Hand High star Matt Walsh was listed as the starting fullback, I decided to take a look back and see who was the last true freshman to be listed as a starter heading into the season.

As it turns out, the answer is a pretty familiar name as current redshirt senior Jesse Joseph was listed as the No. 1 defensive end (ahead of fellow true freshman Trevardo Williams) back in 2009.

Walsh moved by redshirt freshman Jazzmar Clax to claim the No. 1 fullback job. With the uncertainty surrounding the health of starting tight end Sean McQuillan and the Huskies likely to use three wide receivers more often than not, there could be a chance for a significant number of snaps for Walsh, the 2012 New Haven Register State Football Most Valuable Player on Thursday night.

I spoke with Walsh during UConn's media day about his quest to carve out immediate playing time as a freshman.

"Physically I feel like I am capable of keeping up with everybody here at this level, it is just learning and it takes time," Walsh said. "I feel like I am coming along well and I am working hard trying to get on the field anyway I can

"I am not saying I can start and I don’t know where I will be but I am going to do all I can to make sure I can get on the field any way I can. Jazzmar Clax is a great fullback, a great athlete."

The only other true freshman in the two-deep on either offense or defense is guard Kyle Schafenacker although receiver Brian Lemelle is listed as the No. 1 punt returner. Last year the only true freshman on the two-deep for offense or defense was Kyle Bockeloh, who was listed as the backup center. Three years ago Jefferson Ashiru, Mike Osiecki (who has retired due to multiple concussions) and Marquise Vann all made the two-deep as reserve linebackers.

One statistic of note regarding the depth chart is that there are more upperclassmen in the two-deep heading into the season opener than there were at this point last season. There are 17 juniors or seniors listed as starters and another eight as second stringers on the 2013 depth chart. Back in 2012 there were 13 starters and 10 reserves who were on the two deep for offense and defense.

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