Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Loss hits Lemelle hard

When this group of incoming freshman headed to UConn perhaps only former Xavier High quarterback Tim Boyle generated more buzz that record-breaking wide receiver Brian Lemelle.

Lemelle, who caught more passes and had more receiving yards during his days at Bishop McDevitt High than any other player in Pennsylvania high school football history, wasted little time making his presence felt during preseason camp.

He quickly earned quality reps at wide receiver and emerged as UConn's primary punt returner due to his game-breaking potential and sure hands.

However, with just over three minutes left to go in his first collegiate game Lemelle's world turned upside down.

UConn had pulled within one score of Towson after Shakim Phillips' second TD catch of the game and Chandler Whitmer's two-point conversion pass to Spencer Parker. The Huskies forced a three-and-out on Towson's ensuing offensive possession and all Lemelle had to do was corral a punt and the Huskies would be 68 yards from potentially tying the game. However, with Towson players quickly approaching, Lemelle dropped the ball. The Tigers recovered the ball and six plays later Terrance West iced the 33-18 Towson win with a 5-yard TD run.

Obviously Lemelle was devastated following the game and even nearly two weeks later it was clear the pain had not fully subsided.

"I took it personally, and it hurt a lot," Lemelle said.. "They were all there for me, telling me to shake it off and it is a play, keep your head up and keep on moving and it is one play and you have to learn from it.

"I am working extra hard and know it is not going to happen again.

"Right after the game I really didn’t want to deal with a lot of things. My parents were up there and they said they could see in my face."

Lemelle is not the first play to mishandle a punt. His predecessor at UConn Nick Williams has done the same thing as did former UConn special-team dynamo Larry Taylor. Even Wes Welker, perhaps the most sure-handed player in the NFL, let a punt slip through his fingers during last week's Denver/Baltimore game.

The first time Maryland punts on Saturday, Lemelle is expected to be the player waiting for the ball to arrive. The bigger question is whether Lemelle can work his way into the rotation at receiver. With a knee injury expected to sideline Kamal Abrams for a few more weeks, it was redshirt freshman John Green and not Lemelle who moved into the two-deep chart but Lemelle could see some snaps at receiver as a true freshman.

"It is going well," Lemelle said. "It is just like high school coming in as a freshman you have to work your way up, you have to work from the bottom and work your way up the ladder."



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