Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jones, McBryde look to add to legacy of 2012 UConn defense

Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Sio Moore lead list of members
of 2012 UConn defense who are playing pro football

The adage is that defense wins championships but during the 2012 season, a plethora of professional prospects on the defensive side of the ball wasn't enough to keep UConn from limping to a 5-7 final record.

When Byron Jones will be the seventh member of that defensive squad to be taken in the NFL Draft. B.J. McBryde has put himself in position to get into an NFL training camp as well. If that happens, 15 defensive players from that team would have had a taste of professional football. Perhaps safety Andrew Adams, defensive end Kenton Adeyemi and defensive tackle Julian Campenni, who will be seniors on the '15 UConn squad, can add to that list that is if Angelo Pruitt doesn't find his way into an NFL training camp this year.

It started in the 2013 NFL Draft when cornerbacks Dwayne Gratz and Blidi Wreh Wilson and linebacker Sio Moore were all taken in the third round. Defensive end Trevardo Williams went in the fourth round.

Here's a breakdown of the defensive players from the 2012 team

Player                        2012 statistics           Pro team
Yawin Smallwood    120 tackles, 15 TFL  7th round pick by Atlanta Falcons, on Tennessee roster
Jory Johnson             95 tackles                  Leads Bemidji of IFL in interceptions and tackles for loss
Sio Moore                 78 tackles, 8 sacks    140 tackles, 7.5 sacks in 26 games with Oakland Raiders
Dwayne Gratz           53 tackles, 3 INTs    3 interceptions in two seasons with Jacksonville Jaguars
Ryan Wirth               51 tackles, 10 TFL    Was in rookie camp with Baltimore Ravens
Blidi Wreh-Wilson   47 tackles                  11 passes defended in 24 games with Tennessee Titans
Trevardo Williams    11/5 sacks                 5 tackles and sack in 3 games with Washington Redskins
Taylor Mack              28 tackles                 Signed by CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats on April 14
Shamar Stephen        26 tackles                  23 tackles in 16 games as rookie for Minnesota Vikings
Tim Willman            18 tackles, 3 sacks    Was in rookie camp with Jacksonville Jaguars
Jesse Joseph              12 tackles                  Drafted by CFL's Montreal Alouettes, took part in Chicago Bears rookie camp
Ryan Donohue           5 tackles                  Was in rookie camp with Philadelphia Eagles
Teddy Jennings          1 tackle                    Set Arena Football League's Philadelphia Soul record with 11 sacks during 2014 season

Adam Mueller, a three-year starting long snapper, earned spots on the conference's all-academic teams in each of his four seasons at UConn. Now comes an even more impressive honor.

Mueller was the lone UConn player named to the National Football Foundation's Hampshire Honor Society which is limited to players who attained at least a 3.2 grade-point average throughout their college careers. Mueller was one of 817 players to be honored by the NFF.

There are also 11 players from Yale, seven from Wesleyan and three from Trinity College on the list including 2014 NFF National Scholar-Athletes Tyler Varga from Yale and Trinity's Mike Mancini from Rocky Hill. Looking very quickly at the list, I also saw Cheshire's Rob Bowman from UNH (the one in New Hampshire) and Wallingford's Brett Biestek from Fordham.

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