Saturday, August 02, 2014

Shelton's Hashemi off to a good start at UConn

When I asked first-year coach Bob Diaco about his impressions of the true freshmen at American Athletic Conference football media day on Tuesday his response was a rather abrupt "they all look like true freshmen."

Well, at least couple of those new kids has caught his eye.

Diaco was asked whether they had enough depth at tight end after redshirt freshman Quinn Thompson (the leading receiver with five catches in the spring game) left the program and is no longer enrolled at UConn, he had nothing but good things to say about former St. Joseph High of Trumbull star Steve Hashemi. The 6-foot-6, 262-pound Hashemi was the first player to commit to UConn after Diaco was hired and he has been impressive enough that redshirt freshman Michael Boland was shifted to defensive end.

"Alec Bloom, we are taking a look at (as a tight end)," Diaco said. "I have to watch the tape but to me it looked pretty good today (with) Steve Hashemi at tight end so we are excited about those guys. We moved Michael Boland out of there, back to the position that he came here to play and he is very excited about it.We feel good about the tight end position. I am looking forward to seeing and hearing how Steve did today but if he is able to be functioning there, (we would be) walking off the bus (with four) pretty good-looking guys."

As I mentioned when the roster was first posted, I was surprised to see Hashemi, an offensive tackle for the Cadets, listed as a tight end.

Diaco said that was not the original plan but it seems pretty evident that if given his choice between undersized h-back types at tight end or a sixth offensive lineman at the position, he would choose the latter.

"We see him, even still as an offensive linemen," Diaco said. "I have explained how we roll. I explained how we want to do our business, we want to create formations that can overwhelm the defense at the point of attack so that wouldn't be off base to take a young athletic offensive tackle that probably wouldn't be able to participate at offensive tackle and see if he can do some tight end jobs that look a little like offensive tackle jobs in a tight end jersey."

He also said that true freshmen offensive linemen Ryan Crozier, Daniel Oak and Trey Rutherford "don't look out of place."

Speaking of offensive linemen, Gus Cruz was out there with the first team at guard when I was allowed to watch practice. It was the first time he's been out there, I believe, since he was shut down after five games a season ago due to a cardiac issue.

"I have to watch the tape, those guys kind of get lost in there but it is great (to have Cruz back)," Diaco said. "I am excited for him and he is excited. He loves football so to be back out there with his teammates running around doing what he loves to do is wonderful, it is a great story."

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