Tuesday, October 28, 2014

UConn's Byron Jones still a leader even after his college career is over

Jhavon Williams and the rest of UConn's young cornerbacks will be tested
for rest of season after loss of senior Byron Jones due to shoulder injury
Anybody who has ever crossed paths with UConn senior cornerback and team captain Byron Jones probably wouldn't be stunned to hear of his selfless actions on Thursday night.

Jones had received the horrible news that a shoulder injury, that has been reported as a torn labrum by NFL Draft analyst Tony Pauline, he suffered on Thursday night ended his UConn career. It would have been easy for the four-year starter whose 38 career starts is the most of any active Huskies to stand in the corner and fell sorry for himself. However. that is not how Jones is wired so he got up, spoke to his teammates and reassured them that he was going to be fine and that they should move forward.

"I knew after the game and I was pretty devastated because he was a leader in the (locker) room but he is also a leader on the field," said redshirt sophomore cornerback John Green, one of the players expected to see a larger role with Jones out for the remainder of the season. "I was pretty devastated, the whole room was devastated, the coaches were devastated. It was a blessing in disguise for Byron, he is going to have a good future.

"He addressed the team, the coaches addressed the team and he is still leading in the meeting room, he hasn't left us."

His teammates were appreciative that Jones stepped up to speak with the team during what had to be an incredibly difficult time for him.

"Byron has done a great job of leading those guys and help bring them along, help them grow and he will continue to do that from the sideline,' UConn senior quarterback Chandler Whitmer said. "He can't necessarily be out there physically with them but I think those kids have learned, have stepped up and will continue to get better each game.

"He is one of our captains and there is a reason. He is a great kid, he is positive and he works hard. It is tough to see but I know he has a bright future and he is excited about that."

Jones' message to the team was to continue to play with the same intensity as he tried to bring to the field.

"Byron definitely is a leader," junior safety Andrew Adams said. "I definitely feel for Byron and we know his UConn career is over. We try to play each game just thinking about him and thinking about what Byron wants us to do. I know Byron wants us to play hard, play 100 percent. We want to give all of our effort because we know if Byron was out there, he'd be giving all the effort. "

As for the other injuries, UConn coach Bob Diaco was expecting senior receiver Geremy Davis to practice today and despite being knocked out of the East Carolina game with an ankle injury, he seems likely to play against Central Florida on Saturday. Diaco also said that tailback Arkeel Newsome is 100 percent and said he suffered a lower-leg ailment while walking around on campus. He said that he did not expect offensive tackle Dalton Gifford to be able to play again this season but was hopeful that reserve safety Ellis Marder could return to the field at some point this season.

Following Jones' injury there obviously had to be some adjustments on the depth chart. Jamar Summers is listed as a starter across from Jhavon Williams while Green and sophomore Javon Hadley (who hasn't played this season after appearing in five games as a true freshman) are fighting it for the nickel corner slot True freshman Brice McAllister makes his first appearance on the depth chart as the primary backup to Williams. The only other change to the depth chart was at tailback. Recently all four players (Arkeel Newsome, Ron Johnson, Max DeLorenzo and Josh Marriner) were listed as the starters but this week is the first time Johnson and Newsome are listed as the co-starters.

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