Tuesday, March 24, 2015

UConn seniors setting the tone

The frustration was rather obvious when Graham Stewart took a peek into his crystal ball.

Stewart and the rest of the seniors felt incredible pain to seeing a respected group of seniors leave the UConn program with a 2-10 record as well as a string of four straight losing seasons. Stewart doesn't know what the record will be in his final season but he is very clear that Stewart and the fellow seniors are taking the steps they feel are necessary to be more successful.

"I am a guy from Connecticut so it is kind of like taking ownership," Stewart said. "I take a tremendous amount of pride in that I definitely don't want to finish my senior year the way last season finished, I think that would stick with me forever and I can't let that happen."

Just like last season, there is a small group of seniors on the UConn roster. Last year other than receivers Geremy Davis and Deshon Foxx, center Alex Mateas and cornerback Byron Jones, most of the remaining seniors were either players splitting playing time or those who rarely see the field. That is certainly not the case this time around.

Stewart, fellow linebacker and returning captain Marquise Vann, safety Andrew Adams, defensive linemen Kenton Adeyemi and Julian Campenni are defensive players accustomed to playing key roles, tight end Sean McQuillan, guard Tyler Samra and running back Max DeLorenzo are players with at least two years of being regular contributors while Junior Lee and Dom Manco are among UConn's best special teams players.

The seniors are determined to not only walk the walk but talk the talk as well.

"We got together in the beginning and kind of talked about what we wanted to do and the bigger goals," McQuillan said. "We want to be one of the senior groups that everybody feels like you can come up to, you can approach, you can talk to and we just want to be a close-knit group and make sure everybody is comfortable with each other. This senior group has a goal in mind and we are not going to stop until we get there."

UConn coach Bob Diaco has liked what he has seen from his seniors during the early stages of spring practice.

"Even now we are all in so 'what do we do? How does that look like, sound like, smell like, taste like so what do I do?" Diaco said. "We are ready so that is the kind of phase we are in right now, that group helping them have a voice, helping them have an appropriate voice and collectively all of them from John Bogue all the way to Max to Graham to Kenton to Andrew and that whole group, they are really doing a nice job with the team."

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