Wednesday, December 03, 2014

McBryde leaving UConn with lasting memories, NFL dreams

Five years after arriving in Storrs from football-rich Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, B.J. McBryde will depart with sociology and criminology degrees, plenty of football memories both good and bad as well as a burning desire to strap on the shoulder pads even after his time as a Husky is complete.

McBryde's future endeavors may be a bit unknown at the current time, what he does know is he will be one of 14 players who will take part in Senior Day festivities before Saturday's regular-season finale against winless Southern Methodist. Unlike many of those 14, McBryde is expected to see significant action in his final collegiate football game.

"It is my last game, the last time a lot of us will be putting on pads," McBryde said. "It will definitely be an emotional thing. I am really excited about ending with SMU, ending with a bang. We really have a good chance of getting a 'W'. My family is coming up all the way from Pittsburgh so I am really happy about that. When you have your parents there it is something different. They give you that extra boost, that added support so when family is around it is always great."

McBryde is encouraged by the response he has been getting from the pro scouts. The 25 tackles, one tackle for loss and two quarterback hurries in 11 games as a senior may not be staggering statistics, the 6-foot-5, 304-pound McBryde has the size that NFL teams are looking for in defensive line prospects.

"I am very hopeful for a nice Pro Day, maybe a combine," McBryde said. "I am getting feedback from people, I have been putting some good things on film and I am excited about. If not I will have my degrees from UConn."

While McBryde and his fellow seniors are fighting to urge to use this week as a time to look down memory lane at the expense of preparing to meet SMU, he did take a couple of moments to reflect on how he has worked his way into the best shape of his life.
"I'm not saying that anything the other coaches were doing was wrong but I did a transformation Tuesday and I saw the picture (of himself) from the spring going into the summer and results don't lie. What Coach (Bob) Diaco and (strength and conditioning) Coach (Matt) Balis have been able to do with this program , it is showing everywhere but the scoreboard right now. Like Coach Diaco has been telling everybody, it is gong to show up. The changes that he is making, the recruits coming in, everything is being done for a reason and I believe in it.

"I am jealous of all the freshmen because they get to have Coach Diaco for four or five more years. At first I was a little upset about it because I won't be around for this great time that is going to be happening because I guarantee that it is going to be great times. Going through a season, maturing a little bit and being able to see the different changes, I am happy for those guys. I am happy to see a not so great past turn into a promising future. With Coach Diaco, I believe that is going to happen. I was a little upset at first, a little jealous but I am happy."

It's been an interesting season for the senior class. Former starter Angelo Pruitt lasted one game before his season came to an end, former starting long snapper Adam Mueller was beaten out by Dom Manco, three-year starters Chandler Whitmer and Gus Cruz lost their starting jobs to younger teammates and even players like McBryde and linebacker Reuben Frank have been losing snaps to underclassmen as the season has progressed.

"An interesting thing is all the years I was here in the past watching Kendall (Reyes), watching Shamar (Stephen), they were gassed, they were on the field for a long time," McBryde said. "They were coaches' guys and me being the young guy I was like 'Coach, let me run in there, give me some snaps, give these guys a breather.' I feel like I have that now, I have something that Kendall and Shamar didn't necessarily have, I have younger guys like Foley (Fatukasi) coming on to sort of fill in there. he is doing much more than just filling in. Foley is an extraordinary player, he is going to be an extraordinary player. He is so young now, so powerful, so strong. I have been able to show him some things and he has been able to show me some things. it is a learning process and I always tell people that in my short time of playing football, I only played my senior year in high school and I am still learning the game so I am excited about everything. I am excited about where my future is with football and where we are going to go."

He firmly believes that the program is headed in the right direction despite the 2-9 record including losing the last two games by a combined score of 82-10.

"Coach Diaco has said we are going to build off (this season), you have to keep your head up and keep fighting. As a senior, maturing from my freshman year. I was that guy. There was a point when I didn't think I'd ever win and I am coming from Beaver Falls High School when we are winning week after week. I come here and see that college was an entirely different world. We ended up going to the Fiesta Bowl and playing against Oklahoma. You can never lose faith because you never know what will happen."

Here's a look at the players who will be honored before Saturday's game
QB Casey Cochran: Led UConn to a three-game winning streak to end last season, setting a single-game program record with 461 passing yards in a season finale against Memphis. He started the season opener against BYU but suffered a concussion and to prevent the risk of long-term health issues, retired as a player. Top-notch student, Cochran is graduating at the end of his redshirt sophomore season.
OG Gus Cruz: Three-year starter overcame a potentially career-ending cardiac issue caused by a blood clot to start the first nine games of the season at left guard before giving way to freshman Ryan Crozier in the last two games.
WR Geremy Davis: His 162 catches and 2,270 receiving yards rank fifth and seventh respectively on UConn's career lists but first during the Huskies' time playing at the FBS level. Davis appears to be back at 100 percent after missing 2 1/2 games with an ankle injury.
DB Chris DeBerry: Former Torrington High's work habits in practice resulted in the former walk-on receiving a scholarship for his senior season. He has yet to appear in a game.
WR Deshon Foxx: Only player at FBS level to have his team's longest run (68 yards against Central Florida), reception (88 yards vs. East Carolina) and special-teams return (72-yard punt return vs. Stony Brook). Dating back to 1970, Foxx and D.J. Hernandez are the only UConn players with games with 100 yards receiving and rushing. Foxx is not only the only one to do it in the same season but he accomplished the feat in back to back games.
LB Reuben Frank: If there is a player who has seen time at more positions over the last four years than Foxx it is Frank. A former starting fullback, Frank moved to defense for the final two seasons. He has seen time at defensive end and outside linebacker and has 7 1/2 career tackles for loss, three sacks and 12 receptions in his four seasons.
CB Byron Jones: NFL prospect had his senior season ended after seven games due to a shoulder injury but he is still tops among current Huskies with 223 tackles, eight interceptions and 18 pass breakups.
C Alex Mateas: With safety Obi Melifonwu undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery on Friday, Mateas will be the only player to start every game in the last two seasons. Leading of an offensive line that has made drastic improvements, the Ottawa native is expected to be taken in the CFL draft.
DE B.J. McBryde: Has seen time at defensive end and defensive tackle. He has six games with multiple tackles this season including a season-high six against South Florida.
LS Adam Mueller: Another decorated student-athlete, Mueller was a semifinalist for the prestigious Campbell Trophy often referred to as the academic Heisman Trophy. He was the long snapper for his first three seasons before giving way to Dom Manco this season.
OL Bryan Paull: Played in four games during the 2013 season but career was shortened due to injury.
DL Angelo Pruitt: Came into the season expected to be one of the Huskies' top defensive linemen but his college career came to end after starting in the season opener against BYU. He still has aspirations of a pro career.
LB Brandon Steg: Has seen time in 44 career games as a backup linebacker and special-teams performer. Has six tackles this season and 31 career stops.
QB Chandler Whitmer: Been quite the ride for Whitmer who arrived at UConn after stops at the University of Illinois and Butler Community College.. The starter for all of the 2012 season, the first four games a season ago and eight games as a senior, Whitmer is one of four quarterbacks at UConn with more than 400 completions and 5,000 passing yards.


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