Friday, May 30, 2014

UConn in with familiar faces in AAC East Division

The American Athletic Conference announced the divisional breakdown for football beginning in the 2015 season. Cincinnati, South Florida and Temple, the only other teams to come into the AAC from the Big East will play in the East Division along with UConn, Central Florida and East Carolina.

Each team will play a total of eight conference games, facing the other five teams in its own division as well as three from the other division, ensuring that each school will play every conference opponent at home and on the road at least once in a four-year cycle. The division winners will play for the conference title at the home site of the highest ranked divisional champion.

Houston, Memphis, Navy (joining as a football only school in 2015), SMU, Tulane and Tulsa will play in the West Division.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Arkeel Newsome expected at UConn on June 28

With the first summer session set to begin on Monday many of the incoming freshmen are making preparations to head up to campus. I spoke to Ansonia coach Tom Brockett yesterday since I was curious on what the intentions of Register State Player of the Year Arkeel Newsome are in terms of enrolling at UConn.

Brockett said the Ansonia senior class won't graduate by then and the plan is for Newsome to head up to UConn on June 28. That would give him plenty of time to be acclimated before the second summer session begins on July 7.

According to the American Athletic Conference's Chuck Sullivan, conference presidents and athletic directors are meeting tomorrow and setting divisions for football is on the agenda so an announcement on the divisional breakdown could come as soon as tomorrow.

Ted Lewis from the Advocate in Baton Rouge is reporting that Houston, Memphis, Navy, SMU, Tulane and Tulsa would be in one division which would mean that UConn would be in a division with Central Florida, Cincinnati, East Carolina, South Florida and Temple.

AAC will announce FB divisions on Friday - tulane in west with SMU, UH, Tulsa, Memphis and Navy @AdvocateSports


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

UConn to host Holy Cross in 2017

UConn announced that it has agreed to play Holy Cross during the 2017 season.

Here is the release from UConn

The University of Connecticut football team will play Holy Cross in a non-conference game on September 9, 2017 at Rentschler Field.
Holy Cross is currently a member of the Patriot League in the Football Championship Subdivision and began offering football scholarships again with the freshman class enrolling in the fall of 2013. By the beginning of the 2017 season, Holy Cross will offer a full array of scholarships, allowing games with the Football Bowl Subdivision to count in the overall record for bowl eligibility.
UConn and Holy Cross have met 28 previous times dating back to 1916 and the Crusaders lead the series by a 19-8-1 count. The last meeting between the teams came in 1985 – a 22-2 win by the Huskies onOctober 19 at Memorial Stadium in Storrs.
The series also produced one of the most thrilling wins in UConn’s pre-FBS history  -- an 18-17 win over the Crusaders on October 18, 1980 at Fitton Field in Worcester in a game played in driving rain.  The Huskies scored a touchdown on the final play of the game on a four-yard pass from Ken Sweitzer to Ken Miller to make it 17-16 in favor of the Crusaders. The Huskies went for the win on a two-point conversion and Sweitzer hooked up with Hugger again on a pass for the win.
The following is a summary of all future non-conference UConn football games under contract.
2014: August 28, BYU; September 6, Stony Brook; September 13, Boise State; November 8, Army (Yankee Stadium).
2015: September 5, Villanova; September 12, Army; October 31, at BYU.
2016: September 17, Virginia.                      
2017September 9, Holy Cross; September 16, at Virginia.
2018: September 8, at Boise State.
2019: September 7, Illinois; September 21, at Indiana.
2020: September 12, at Illinois; September 26, Indiana.
UConn and Tennessee have a two-game home-and-home series under contract with dates to be determined.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Stephen signs with Vikings

Former UConn defensive tackle Shamar Stephen signed with the Minnesota Vikings.

Stephen, the team MVP of the 2013 UConn squad, was taken by the Vikings in the seventh round.

According to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press Stephen will receive a signing bonus of $65,148 with his four-year deal worth $2.285 million.


Monday, May 19, 2014

UConn's Mateas on Rimington Trophy Spring Watch list

Alex Mateas was one of 64 players named to the spring watch list for the Rimingtom Trophy, which is presented annually to the top center in the country.
Mateas, a redshirt senior, is the only returning offensive lineman to start every games during the 2013 season and had started 17 times in the two seasons since he transferred from Penn State.

He has been drawing praise from new UConn coach Bob Diaco for his play and leadership and would be near the top of the short list of players in contention to be named captains of the 2014 team.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Smallwood signs with Falcons

Former UConn linebacker Yawin Smallwood agreed to terms with the Atlanta Falcons today.

Smallwood, a seventh-round pick by Atlanta, received a signing bonus of $45,896 and the base salaries in the four-year contract were $420,000, $510,000, $600,000 and $690,000 according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun and the National Football Post.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Vikings coach dishes on UConn's Shamar Stephen

There was a transcript up on the Minnesota Vikings official site of head coach Mike Zimmer's thoughts after the first day of rookie minicamp. He was asked a couple of questions about former UConn defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, a seventh-round pick of the team.

Q: What do you see from Shamar Stephen?
 A: Yeah he’s been out here a couple of days and he’s got some good power with him. I think he’s going to be a bigger guy once he gets a little more into the weight program, but he’s got great quickness, great quick hands. He’s got a chance down the road too.

Q: He’s already at 300, do you see a weight you want him at?
 A: Well I think he can develop a little more in his upper body. I haven’t talked to the strength coaches about weights and where we want them to be at and where they can get to at this point. We’ll have that conversation probably in the next two weeks.

Safety Jerome Junior, who spent his first three collegiate seasons at UConn before finishing up at Winston-Salem State, was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars after earning a tryout at the recently-completed rookie minicamp.

Junior had 167 tackles in 37 games at UConn from 2009-11. He had six career interceptions as a Husky including a team-leading four during the 2010 season.

Junior and running back Beau Blankenship were two players who attended training camp on a tryout basis signed by the team. There were 24 others, including former UConn defensive end Tim Willman, who had tryouts with the Jaguars but left without being signed.


Ty-Meer Brown heading to BC

It looks like Ty-Meer Brown is getting a second chance at playing college football.

Brown, a safety who saw his career at UConn end midway through the 2013 season after suffering a neck injury, posted on his instagram account that he will be transferring to Boston College.

Here is what Brown posted

When one door closes another one opens I could definitely say I had 4 great years at the university of Connecticut met some great people and made memories I will never forget but today I signed a scholarship to Boston College where I will play I my last year of college football many people thought my football career was over, but it's just beginning#BostonCollege

Brown played in seven games last season and had 51 tackles. In his career he had 145 tackles and four interceptions.


Friday, May 16, 2014

UConn's Donohue heading to Eagles rookie camp

Add linebacker Ryan Donohue to the list of UConn products heading to rookie camp this weekend.

There are multiple reports of Donohue being one of seven undrafted players earning tryouts with the Eagles.

Geoff Mosher @GeoffMosherCSN
Tryouts @Eagles rookie camp: LB Blaze Caponegro, TE Jamie Childers, LB Ryan Donohue...

Jeff McLane @Jeff_McLane

#Eagles will have 7 tryout players participating in rookie camp this weekend: LB Blaze Caponegro, TE Jamie Childers, LB Ryan Donohue ...

Donohue becomes the sixth player from the 2013 UConn team to earn invites to NFL rookie camps. Defensive tackle Shamar Stephen was taken by Minnesota in the seventh round, linebacker Yawin Smallwood was a seventh-round pick by Atlanta, defensive ends Jesse Joseph and Tim Willman earned tryouts with Chicago and Jacksonville and offensive guard Steve Greene got a tryout with the Washington Redskins.

By my count that makes 14 UConn players getting into NFL camps over the last two years including 10 on the defensive side of the ball. Add in that tight end John Delahunt and defensive end Teddy Jennings and that brings the number to 16 players in pro camps including 11 defensive players.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Former UConn OL Steve Greene heading to Redskins camp

According to his Twitter account, former UConn offensive guard Steve Greene has secured a tryout with the NFL's Washington Redskins beginning today

Steve Greene @S69Greene
Heading to DC for the biggest job interview of my life! #gottawantit #prayersup #dreamchasing

It should be noted that last year receiver Nick Williams received a similar opportunity and made enough of an impression to get onto the field to appear in five games with the Redskins.

Greene is the third UConn product I've heard of getting an NFL tryout joining defensive ends Jesse Joseph and Tim Willman who earned invitations to camp with Chicago and  Jacksonville respectively. Of course seventh-round picks Shamar Stephen (Minnesota Vikings) and Yawin Smallwood (Atlanta Falcons) will also be taking part in rookie camps.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Little change in UConn's APR

The Academic Progress Rates were released by the NCAA today and the UConn football finished with a multi-year APR score of 957 ending with the 2012-13 academic year, just off the 958 in last year's report. UConn posted a 964 APR during the 2012-13 period.

UConn averaged 257.6 in the previous eight reports in the multi-year APR list so the number falls right in line for what the Huskies have been getting done in the classroom.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Calm before the storm for new UConn coach

Other than perhaps a week here, a couple of days there Bob Diaco has been able to monitor the progress of the players who will comprise his first UConn team.

However, with the finals all wrapped up and the team not set to reconvene until June 2 for summer conditioning drills, these next few weeks are one that Diaco can only hope are extremely quiet.

Diaco is hopeful that when he sees the grades from the spring semester from the returning players, there won;t be anything to cause alarm. He also hopes that when the players are back hanging out with their friends, their idea of fun doesn't cross any lines that puts the university in a negative light. He is also optimistic that all the time he and his staff spent with the team on the importance of better diets and sleeping patterns will be followed by the Huskies when they are away from campus.

"I have no other expectations other than just try to get better every day," Diaco said on a post-spring practice conference call set up by the American Athletic Conference. "The team needs a lot of work, the culture of the team needs a lot of work, the physical portion in terms of conditioning, physical conditioning, speed, strength everything needs a ton of work. We are way behind. Thinking about how we are going to win games, right now we are talking about how not to lose.

"The team just finished finals, they are away but they are not off. We have worked to educate them of when they are on their own and away, how to eat, how to sleep, what the trappings of lack of sleep and poor food and inactivity can do. We have worked to educate them on something that at least on the short term has not been done in the past. Even in the time away I am focused on that the team has enough information and knowledge and investment made that they are going to be willing participants in these next three weeks when they are away so June 2 when we get started, we are not playing catch up and we are moving forward.
In the past teams come back and they have to get caught back up again. If we can not start the first week of training getting caught back up and we can spend the first week of training moving forward that would be an improvement just that alone, we are not even talking about training we are talking about the time away. If we can do that better that is going to make the first week to 10 days better when we start on June 2. When you talk about the science of time away, there is a lot more to think about than thinking about (playing) BYU on the 29th (of August)."

As for the players, Diaco was asked for a timetable of when he would declare a pecking order for his quarterbacks as Chandler Whitmer, Tim Boyle and Casey Cochran each started four games during the 2013 season.

"There is no set depth (chart)," Diaco said. "The guys need to get bigger, faster, stronger, they need to grow their relationships with their teammates and they need to learn how to protect the ball better collectively. All four players (including redshirt freshman Kivon Taylor) will be working on that well into August, well into the middle of August before there is any proclamation about who’s who and what’s what.

"There’s some positions where it is pretty clear who the guy is. Byron Jones is going to be one of the best corners in America, not one of the best corners on our team but one of the best corners in the country. There are a few players like that on our team that it is pretty clear that they are going to be stalwarts for us and need to be. Alex Mateas at center, he is going to be the center. There are other guys who are coming on and doing well but Alex is going to be the center."

He was asked for Taylor's status moving forward as he was suspended for part of spring practice before returning to the team.

"Kivon was working on his academics and finishing up his exams so the grades, my understanding is that the grades were due today for the student-athletes and we will have a great picture on just the total picture of everyone and how they finished up there at the beginning of the week," Diaco said "My understanding, all things being equal, he has finished strong and he will be up and running with the team in June and hopefully that can happen."

Before it was time for Diaco to answer questions, American Athletic Conference commissioner gave a 7 1/2 minute opening statement which pretty much was his opportunity to pump the tires of the AAC teams and the non-conference schedule. About the only newsworthy portion of his time on the call came when he said that no decision has been made on the divisional format in the AAC but that it is an issue which will be raised at the upcoming spring meetings.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

UConn's Bennett heads to training camp with Bengals

Former UConn offensive tackle Jimmy Bennett was feeling pretty good about things as he saw ex teammates Shamar Stephen and Yawin Smallwood taken in the seventh round in the NFL Draft. However, there was more good news coming his way before the draft came to an end.

Right before the name of the final player taken in the three-day draft Bennett received a call from the Cincinnati Bengals telling him that they were signing him as a free agent. UPDATE 5/12 at 6 p.m.: Bennett was not on the list of 10 players signed as undrafted rookie free agents. The Bengals would not confirm whether  Bennett came in and did not pass a physical saying that they signed the 10 college free agents who came in and passed physicals and that the team does not have any players in camp on solely a tryout basis.

"I never talked to them before the draft so it was really surprising but it was cool nonetheless, I am happy," said Bennett, who is flying out to Cincinnati this afternoon. "They called me right before Mr. Irrelevant was announced they called me to let me know.

"It was just the Bengals, they said ‘you are signed, you are good.’ I obviously haven’t played football in a while and it is exciting to get back into football. There are a lot of things that I don’t know what to expect, it is a lot of anticipation and what is going to happen."

Bennett had an injury-plagued career as he was one of the rare players to be granted a sixth season of eligibility. He started every game over the last two seasons at left tackle and also got some positive reviews for his performance in the Medal of Honor Bowl.

"For me it is exciting, it was one of those goals because everybody wants to play in the NFL," Bennett said. "I’ve taken a few hits and had some setbacks at times but you have to get that out of your mind, get to work and focus on staying there. There are a lot of different things running through my head. It is exciting but it is also kind of nerve wracking at the same time."

Yesterday Bennett was with former teammate Steve Greene, an offensive guard who started alongside Bennett for the last two years and Bennett said that Greene is receiving an tryout with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Also, I have seen a report that DE Jesse Joseph will receive a tryout with the Chicago Bears. The Bears should have a pretty good idea what Joseph is capable of as former UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni is the team's defensive line coach.

Duane Forde @DuaneFordeTSN
DE Jesse Joseph, a 2013 Alouettes draft pick out of UConn has been invited to mini camp with the Bears, no contract.

 I haven't heard anything about the other UConn players getting free agent contracts or invitations to try out at rookie mini camp.

Bennett was thrilled to see Stephen get taken by Minnesota and Smallwood go to Atlanta,

"I was very nervous there for a while," Bennett said. "I didn’t think they were going to. It is nice to see their names come across the TV. It’s great seeing guys you went school with making it, especially Yawin because he came out early. He didn’t go as high as he thought but it happens."

Former UConn quarterback Mike Box, who transferred to Division II Indiana (Pa,) University, will be heading to the Washington Redskins rookie mini-camp

IUP Crimson Hawks @IUPCrimsonHawk
Former #IUPFB QB Mike Box (@AutoBox_5) has been invited by the Washington Redskins to their rookie mini camp beginning on May 16.

Former UConn DB Tevrin Brandon, who transferred to Monmouth, will be at the Kansas City Chiefs training camp

Chris Shanafelt @ChrisShanafelt
The Kansas City Chiefs will be signing former UConn/Monmouth CB, Tevrin Brandon.

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Vikings GM thrilled to land UConn's Stephen

I just listened to a video of the post-draft press conference with Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman.

Spielman said that with three seventh-round picks, he was considering trading one of them to pick up a sixth-round selection in next year's draft but not with Stephen still on the board.

"When you have a big guy him to be sitting there, we were not going to trade that pick," Spielman said.

He also said that after he selected UConn's team MVP that some rival GMs texted him with "he was our guy" responses.

Here's some of Spielman's other thoughts on landing Stephen.

"He's a strong physical nose tackle," Spielman said. "He's another player high on our board at the time when we were picking. I did not feel like he was not going to be there much longer. This guy will come in and compete as an interior player for us. We really enjoyed visit with him, trying to create as much competition as we possibly can."


Saturday, May 10, 2014

UConn's Smallwood taken by Atlanta with 253rd pick

Yawin Smallwood got comfortable in his home in Worcester to watch the NFL Draft beginning with Thursday's first round.

UConn's leading tackler in each of the last two seasons, Smallwood boldly declared that he considered himself to be the best linebacker in the draft. If one of the NFL teams agreed with him, perhaps he would join Donald Brown as the only UConn player to be taken in the first round. He watch the second and third rounds and nearly every pick on Saturday when the final four rounds took place.

Finally, his wait ended when Atlanta took Smallwood with the 253rd overall pick late in the seventh round.

"Once it got to the second round I was waiting for my name to be called. In the third round I was still waiting, fourth, fifth, sixth and I still didn’t see my name getting called," Smallwood said. "I kept seeing players I thought I was better than. I was (wondering) whether I was going to get drafted. I started getting calls from teams talking about free agency. I was a little disappointed and I got that call from Atlanta, they told me they loved the type of player I am and they were going to draft me. It felt great, it was a great moment."

Last year undrafted rookie free agent Paul Worrilow ended up being the leading tackler for the Atlanta Falcons. With the Falcons taking former UConn star Yawin Smallwood late in the seventh round, could history be repeated?

"I am going to do what I have always done, work hard and make plays," Smallwood said. "At UConn I produced and every single year I got better."

Smallwood led UConn with 118 tackles and four sacks during the 2013 season. He finished with 332 tackles in his three years with the Huskies with 27 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks and five forced fumbles


UConn's Stephen drafted by Vikings

Perhaps he had to wait a little bit longer than he was anticipating before he heard his name called in the NFL Draft, but once Shamar Stephen spoke with the Minnesota Vikings coaches there was a sense of exhilaration when Minnesota took him in the seventh round.

"Every minute goes by slower and slower but I am blessed with the opportunity to be able to play," Stephen said.

"It is a long wait, I want to come in, prove I can play and be a factor for them next year," Stephen said. "I am not trying to worry about what round I got drafted, I just want to make the team and show people I can play."

Stephen had 60 tackles as a senior including a team-high 10 tackles for loss to go with three sacks as he was named the team’s most valuable player. He had 130 tackles including 17 tackles for loss during

It was the eighth straight year that at least one UConn player was taken in the draft and 22 Huskies have been drafted since 2005.

Stephen took a visit to Minnesota in late April and felt comfortable in his meetings with the coaches and the scheme that they play.

"They definitely showed me a lot of love, just the scheme and everything that they did," Stephen said.

Making the day all the more special was that he was surrounded by family and friends when he got the call.

"It means everything for me and my family," Stephen said. "It is a great opportunity for me and my family and I am trying to come out here and prove to everybody I can play and be able to be a factor for this team.

"Everybody was excited for me, everybody was happy for me. I definitely have to thank my family for all the support and thank my friends for all the support. It was definitely a great moment for me."


Friday, May 09, 2014

2 state players nominated for All-American Bowl

Chris Clark, a tight end at Avon Old Farms, and Christian Wilkins, a defensive lineman at Suffield Academy, were among the 400 players nominated to play in the prestigious U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 3.

Clark, a New Jersey native, is considered by many as the top tight end prospect in the country. The database lists Clark as owning an offer from UConn as well as 39 other teams while the database lists UConn as one of the 18 teams to offer Wilkins.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

UConn players hoping to hear names called in next three days

Well the NFL Draft is finally here. After months of hype and more mock drafts posted than I could ever care to count, the three-day event kicks off tonight.

Last year was a special time for former Huskies as five went in the draft. This year the number is expected to be much smaller as Shamar Stephen and Yawin Smallwood are the only UConn products expected to get taken. However, in March a total of 12 former Huskies worked out for NFL scouts so perhaps another player caught the eye of a team and can get into a camp like Nick Williams and Michael Smith did a season ago. Williams saw some time with the Washington Redskins while Smith got a long look from the Houston Texans.

Here's a video look back at the UConn pro day

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Oxford's Carbonaro to walk on at UConn

Dan Carbonaro, a two-way starting offensive lineman at Oxford High School, has accepted a spot as a preferred walk on at UConn according to Oxford coach Joe Stochmal.

Carbonaro, a three-year starting left offensive tackle, drew interest from Division II programs New Haven and Southern Connecticut State and also received an offer to walk on at Central Connecticut State.

Carbonaro had 31 tackles as a senior at Oxford but Stochmal said that UConn is looking for him to play on the offensive line.

"He is a big kid, he is about 6-5 285 pounds,' Stochmal said. "He was an all-area wrestler and all-state wrestler. A big kid, very physical and can move people. When he run blocks, he is a kid who can take a player down field five or 10 yards and he likes to finish them off by putting them on their back. He’s got a little edge to him and I think they saw that on film, they liked that and offered him to come on as a walk-on.

"He has the body type and the demeanor to play at the Division I level," Stochmal said. "The sky’s the limit for Danny. He knows what work lies ahead of him and how much work he is going to have to do but he is really appreciative of the opportunity."

Stochmal reached out to UConn After Bob Diaco was named the head coach beginning the process which resulted in Carbonaro accepting the invitation to join the program.

"Once the job was filled I sent an email out to the staff," Stochmal said. "Coach Diaco didn’t have everybody in place yet so I reached out to everybody. I got a hold of Coach (Josh) Reardon and he got back to me immediately. He wanted to see film on him very impressed with his size."

As Stochmal mentioned, Carbonaro was an outstanding wrestler at Oxford as he was the Class S champion at 275 pounds and received the fastest fall winner award in the meet as he recorded four pins in a total of 4 minutes and 36 seconds. He finished fifth in the State Open at 275 pounds.

UConn's Smallwood "a longer, rangier Takeo Spikes"

Former UConn stars Yawin Smallwood and Shamar Stephen expected
to be taken on either Firday or Saturday in NFL draft.
These next few days are going to be anxious ones for the former UConn players who have put themselves in position to get their names called in the NFL Draft.

Last year five UConn players were drafted and a total of eight made it into NFL camps. That number is expected to be significantly smaller this time around but linebacker Yawin Smallwood and defensive lineman Shamar Stephen are expected to be drafted while defensive end Jesse Joseph has met with a few NFL teams since UConn's pro day.

I've found it beneficial to reach out to those people who have played a significant role in the NFL Draft process. So yesterday I spent a few minutes with Tony Villani, a well-respected trainer who counts Jamal Lewis, Hines Ward, Takeo Spikes and Osi Umenyiora among some of his clients during his 12 years in charge of XPE Sports.

Villani began working with Smallwood in January and to say he was impressed with UConn's leading tackler in the 2012 and 2013 would be an understatement.

"The linebacker I love a lot and worked with for 12 years was Takeo Spikes" Villani said. "He is like a longer, rangier Takeo Spikes. His strength, his movement, his attitude all of that reminds me of Takeo, he is more of a stretched out version of a Takeo Spikes."

Spikes was a first-round pick by Cincinnati in the 1998 NFL Draft. He has recorded more than 1,400 career tackles and earned All-Pro honors twice so that's pretty high praise.

So what impresses Villani the most about Smallwood?

"His physical size and his ability for that size," Villani said. "He’s a 6-2, 245/250 pound guy with length, normally those guys are regulated to play inside or outside and not play both but he is athletic enough to play both. Normally you have those short squatty inside linebackers or you have rangy outside linebackers. He kind of fits the mold of them both size wise and ability wise so that was what I was impressed with the most."

Villani also loves Smallwood's blue-collar, no-frills approach to the game.

"You can get guys who you can call knuckleheads and he definitely has zero percent knucklehead in him," Villani said. "He is very down to earth, has a work-hard attitude. I got zero complaints about him."

One issue Villani did have with Smallwood was a troublesome hamstring. He did what he could to prepare Smallwood to run the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine but Smallwood had to ease up when his hamstring tightened up running the 40 at the combine. He was clocked at 5.01 but his 10-yard split was one of the best among the linebackers. Villani predicted that Smallwood would have run in the  "4.7 (second) laser range, 4.6 hand range which for somebody who is almost 250 pounds is very acceptable.

"His 10 yard among all the linebackers was probably the fifth or sixth fastest out of 35 (linebackers) so I know he got out real well. Because of his size, he wouldn’t have been one of the fifth or sixth fastest but he probably would have been in the top third, top 12.

"He had a hamstring injury that we really couldn’t get cleared up in time for the combine so we really had to focus on his positional drills and had to change the plan to make him look good on his positional workouts after the combine rather than trying to do the 40 real fast at the combine."

Villani is not sure if the lack of a top time in the 40 will impact Smallwood's draft position. He said he is hoping that Smallwood is a second-day pick which would make him either a second or third round pick. Many of the mock drafts being circulated have him going much lower than that but these mock drafts have proven to be as reliable as a Connecticut weather report in December or January.

Villani, who has 14 or 15 clients expected to be taken in this year's draft. admits he is not sure which round Smallwood will end up being taken in or the role that 5.01 40 will play come draft time.

"I think it (the slow 40 time) does in the media’s eyes because they need a lot of stuff to report about, they come out with mock drafts in mid January and do six more," Villani said. "It is weird because they say that the 40 doesn’t matter and it always ends up mattering, then when the draft happens you will find out."

The draft begins Thursday night with the first round. The second and third rounds will be held on Friday with rounds 4-7 conducted on Saturday.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2014

UConn, Indiana agree to home and home series

Add Indiana to the list of Power Five conference programs UConn has signed to meet up with in the future.

UConn announced that it has agreed to a home and home series with Indiana beginning with a game at Indiana on Sept. 21, 2019 with the return game scheduled for Sept. 26 at Rentschler Field.

UConn and Indiana met during the 2003 and 2006 seasons with the Huskies winning both games by scores of 34-10 and 14-7.

The following is a summary of all future non-conference UConn football games under contract.
2014: August 28, BYU; September 6, Stony Brook; September 13, Boise State; November 8, Army (Yankee Stadium).
2015: September 5, Villanova; September 12, Army; October 31, at BYU.
2016: September 17, Virginia.
2017: September 16, at Virginia.
2018: September 8, at Boise State.
2019: September 7, Illinois; September 21, at Indiana.
2020: September 12, at Illinois; September 26, Indiana.

UConn and Tennessee have a two-game home-and-home series under contract with dates to be determined.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Former UConn DB heading overseas

While his former UConn teammates Yawin Smallwood and Shamar Stephen will be waiting to see where they will be drafted later this week, Dwayne Gratz will be appearing at an event on behalf of the Jacksonville Jaguars in England.

Gratz and fellow second-year Jaguars Denard Robinson and John Cyprien will take part in NFL Draft related events in London,