Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Torrington's Chris DeBerry now a grad assistant at UConn

It's been quite the journey for Torrington's Chris DeBerry, a former walk-on who was put on scholarship for his senior year. I just happened to took a look at UConn's staff directory and DeBerry is listed as one of the four graduate assistants with the football program.

David DeBoer, Nick Lezynski and Tyler Stockton are set to return for the second seasons as grad assistants while DeBerry should be replacing Josh Zidenberg who is now the assistant secondary coach and special teams co-coordinator at Virginia Military Institute.

I never got around to reporting this, but the Sept. 12 home game against Army is slated for a noon kickoff and will air on CBS Sports Network. That means that the kickoff times for four of the first five games as well as the Oct. 30 home game against East Carolina have been announced.

The season opener against Villanova on Sept. 3 will start at 7:30 p.m. and will be shown on SNY. ESPNU will show the Sept. 19 game at Missouri that will kick off at noon, the Oct. 2 contest at BYU will begin at 10:15 p.m. and air on ESPN2 and ESPNU will televise the 7 p.m. East Carolina game on Oct. 30.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Suffield Academy DB Herring commits to UConn

For the second time in three years the UConn football program has received a commitment from a highly-touted Suffield Academy product.

Brice McAllister wasted little time making an impact as he made seven tackles as a true freshman in 2014. Now Tahj Herring has followed the same route as he announced his commitment on his Twitter account.

Herring made 28 tackles and had four interceptions as a junior. Herring averaged 21 yards on his 23 catches including a 90-yard reception and also returned a fumble 99 yards for a score. He helped Suffield Academy record four shutouts in nine games en route to beating Cheshire Academy 31-28 to win the New England Super Bowl title. Herring, a Hartford native, has played at Suffield Academy since he was an eighth grade and Suffield has a 33-3 record since Herring's arrival.

I am very truly blessed to say that I have committed to the University of Connecticut!!!!! pic.twitter.com/lVylxp1Ieo


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Illinois receiver Quayvon Skanes commits to UConn

The next group of UConn incoming freshmen isn't expected to number much more than 15 (if it gets that high) and at this rate, that number could be reached before July 4 or the time I get the power back at my house.

The constant flood of verbal commitments continued today when Quayvon Skanes, a 6-foot-1 receiver out of Phillips High School in Chicago, became the fourth player to commit to the Huskies.

Skanes, who caught 41 passes including 12 for touchdowns as a junior, announced his decision on his Twitter account.

I'll be committing to the University of Connecticut #BleedBlue #Humbled

According to a story in the Chicago Tribune Skanes has a 3.7 grade-point average and Illinois and Iowa are among the teams to have offered him a scholarship.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hahn becomes UConn's third Class of 2016 commit

Eddie Hahn committed to UConn becoming the third pledge from Class of 2016

Blessed and honored to say that I have committed to the University of Connecticut🐾🏈 #Huskies

Hahn completed 64 percent of his passes for 1,485 yards with 20 touchdowns and six interceptions while running for 531 yards and 12 more scores. However, he is likely to move over to defense at UConn. He had 32 tackles including two for a loss while intercepting two passes as a junior at Red Bank Catholic.

UConn's Diaco thrilled to welcome freshmen to campus

The newest additions to the UConn football team arrived on campus over the weekend and nobody was happier to see them there than head coach Bob Diaco.

"It is great and the veterans have completely embraced them, showed them the ropes, teaching them our culture and how we do our business and what the school is about," Diaco said after competing in the charity mini-golf event at the Travelers Championship along with UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma and associate head coach Chris Dailey. "It is fun to watch them during their first week here, it is fun to watch them train, trying to learn movements. It is an awesome time.

"I am excited to watch everybody make gains, from Marquise Vann to Graham (Stewart) and all the way down to guys who just got here like Connor (Freeborn) and Tyler (Davis)."

He is also happy to see the preferred walk-ons including Valley Regional three-sport captain Chris Jean-Pierre, who was named the Register's Male Athlete of the Year last night.

"All the guys are like that," Diaco said. "They are all multi-jobs guys on strong teams, they have long histories of success and good to great students. If you have a recipe like that, good to great students who are incredibly athletic, winners, multi-sport, multi-job guys, how can you not like guys like that.
We are looking for competitors and teammates."

As for the mini-golf event, the UConn team did not win but Diaco still enjoyed the experience.

"It is just great to be here, to do an activity that is other centered and the proceeds going to all these other awesome charities whether I was representing UConn football or not, I would like to be a part of it," Diaco said. "To come and spread the word, talk about the football team and the young men that represent it is awesome. I will do it any time I can.

"I was better than last year. The course, I think was the same, so that helps and maybe next year I will keep getting better and better. Hole in one on the last one."

Last but not least, with P. Diddy arrested after getting into an argument with UCLA strength and conditioning coach Sal Alosi due to the treatment of his son, I got Diaco's thoughts on how he handles meetings with unhappy parents.

"I don't know what happened," Diaco said. "There are three sides to every story. There is the coaches' side, the parent's side and somewhere in between is what happened. I have no idea of what happened.

"I think communication helps that. You communicate with respect, love and care and even if it is something that they don't want to hear and they are not participating more than they would like to or more than their family thinks that they should,  if the communication is right you work through it."

It was previously announced that the Oct. 2 game at BYU would start at 10:15 p.m. Today BYU put it out there that the game will be televised by ESPN2. It was originally listed as either an ESPN or ESPN2 game.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Some catching up to do

One constant when it comes to the UConn football program is that commitments are sure to come flying in during my vacation weeks.

That was certainly the case this week with the first two Class of 2016 commitments were secured in back to back days.

Quarterback Donovan Williams, originally committed to James Madison, was the first player in the class to commit to the Huskies.

Williams comes out of a very familiar Hylton High School program in Woodbridge, Va. Offensive tackle Chasz Wright committed to UConn out of Hylton but when he spent a postgraduate season at Milford Academy, he had a change of heart following the dismissal of Paul Pasqualoni. Wright is now at Penn State.

Linebacker E.J. Levenberry, who transferred from Florida State to UConn, also played at Hylton. Now it is Williams who attracted the attention of the UConn recruiters.

Williams played behind Travon McMillan, now a redshirt freshman tailback at Virginia Tech, as a sophomore. He showed off his versatility throwing for three touchdowns, running for six more and catching a touchdown pass.

Williams moved into the starting quarterback role as a junior and had a four-game stretch where he was 59 of 78 passing for 728 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Later in the season he had back to back 100 yard rushing games and fell two yards short of making in three in a row.

Hylton is coached by former NFL safety Tony Lilly who was a member of two Super Bowl teams in his four seasons with the Denver Broncos.

The second commitment was also a quarterback but Glastonbury's Keyion Dixon projects to receiver for the Huskies.

The 6-foot-3 Dixon had a game with four touchdown runs and another where he ran for 180 yards and also returned an interception for a touchdown. He also finished third in the 300 meter hurdles at the State Open track and field championships. In the Class LL championships, Dixon was fifth in the 100 and 200 meters and the champion in the 300 hurdles helping Glastonbury to a third-place finish. Then he placed fourth in the 300 hurdles at the New Englands with an impressive time of 38.91 seconds, the best time for a non-senior in the event.

By my math there were only 12 scholarship players among the seniors on UConn's spring roster. Although not available scholarship spots were used when the class was signed in February so they could be used this year, this is still going to be a small recruiting class. I wouldn't be surprised to see a pretty large number of state products being pursued as preferred walk-ons as was the case this season. Speaking of the incoming freshman class, they are expected to arrive on campus today so they can enroll in summer school and take part in UConn's conditioning program.

In other news from the week, it was announced that the Sept. 19 game at Missouri will kick off a few minutes after noon and air on ESPNU. It is the fourth start time announced as the season opener against Villanova on Sept. 3 is set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff, the Oct. 2 game at BYU is set to start at 10:15 p.m. and the American Athletic Conference contest against East Carolina on Oct. 30 has a 7 p.m. kickoff time.

Also, cuts are coming in for CFL teams and former UConn stars Lyle McCombs and Kashif Moore were played on the 10-member practice roster by the Toronto Argonauts while receiver Terence Jeffers-Harris is on the practice roster of the BC Lions. Not sure if I am missing anybody but I have offensive lineman Alex Mateas (Ottawa), long snapper Martin Bedard (Montreal) and defensive end Jesse Joseph (Montreal) and starting the season on CFL active rosters. Although he did not attend UConn, I did notice that former Hyde star Bruce Campbell is on the Toronto Argonauts roster. It is also worth noting that former UConn defensive end Teddy Jennings, who was a pass-rushing dynamo as a rookie in the Arena Football League, was placed on the exempt list by the Philadelphia Soul as he attempted to make the roster of the CFL's Montreal Alouettes. When he was cut by Montreal Jennings headed down to Philadelphia, was activated and made his season debut on Saturday with two sacks in a nationally-televised game against the LA Kiss.

There was also some interesting reading focusing on former UConn players in the NFL. Robert McClain, in his first season with the New England Patriots, is already drawing praise from usually hard to please head coach Bill Belichick for his work ethic. Then there is Darius Butler who is headed to Jamaica to give a football clinic for underprivileged children for the fourth year in a row.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Former UConn RB McCombs cut and then re-signed by Argonauts

Former UConn running back Lyle McCombs was one of eight players cut by the CFL's Toronto Argonauts on the first cut-down day and then was re-signed by the Argonauts earlier today.

McCombs was UConn's leading rusher during the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons before playing at Rhode Island for his senior season. McCombs finished second on UConn's career carries list and his 2,681 rushing yards ranks fourth in UConn history.

McCombs carried the ball twice for no yards and had one catch for minus six yards in Toronto's 34-27 loss to Winnipeg in Tuesday's preseason opener for both teams.

Former UConn receiver Kashif Moore is among the Toronto players to survive the first round of cuts.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Diaco: Weeding out process not part of his plan at UConn

By my count there were 24 players on the UConn roster for the 2013 season finale against Memphis who had remaining eligibility which was never used. It should be noted that seven of those 24 were walk-ons but still that's a pretty substantial number.

The reasons for the departures vary. Some are due to injury, others a result of off the field issues and others just feel like the grass could be greener elsewhere.

When UConn coach Bob Diaco made himself available to the media at the start of the Women's Football 101 Clinic, I asked Diaco if he has a better vibe about the players he has work with going into year two after going through the process of moving forward without the players who fit his plan for the program.

Diaco was quick to shoot down the notion that he came in with the purpose of cutting loose players.

"I don't feel like I did that," Diaco said. "I really don't. I didn't do that, there was some natural circumstances that didn't fit but I didn't intend to do that, I don't intend to do that, it is not what I am about so I can't even go down that road. That speaks to intent and I didn't intend to ever do that."

The timing of the question fit with the news that Jefferson Ashiru, one of the most prominent players to leave the program under Diaco's watch, has officially joined the Maryland program and he will be immediately eligible to play for the Terrapins as well as the news that Sean McQuillan's UConn career is over after his arrest in April.

Here is the list and it should be noted that some of these players left before Diaco arrived with 10 of them (according to my math) leaving under Diaco's watch. I only included the scholarship players since there is always a large turnover when it comes to non-scholarship players.

WR Kamal Abrams
LB Jefferson Ashiru: Will play this season at Maryland
LB Brandon Battles-Santos
TE Michael Boland: Transferred to Lackawanna College
DB Ty-Meer Brown: Played at Boston College in 2014
DB Tyree Clark
QB Casey Cochran: Retired due to multiple concussions
RB Lyle McCombs: Played at Rhode Island in 2014, currently in camp with CFL's Toronto Argonauts
OT Xavier Hemingway
QB Scott McCummings: Retired due to injury, is the quarterbacks coach at Framingham State
TE Sean McQuillan: Barred from re-enrolling in school after arrest for assault and disorderly conduct.
TE E.J. Norris: Transferred to Shepherd University
WR Shakim Phillips: Played at Boston College in 2014, currently in camp with Pittsburgh Steelers
DB David Stevenson: Transferred to Kennesaw State
QB Kivon Taylor: Transferred to Foothill College
TE Quinn Thompson: Transferred to Baldwin Wallace
RB Joseph Williams: Played at ASA College, now at Utah

Friday, June 12, 2015

UConn's 2nd annual Women's Football 101 Clinic a success

Bob Diaco has drawn his share of criticism for his creation of a trophy for a rivalry with Central Florida even though UCF is not on board with the "Civil Conflict" rivalry and seems to have little interest in the trophy designed by UConn.

However, one of Diaco's other ideas is proving to be receiving in a much more positive light as about 200 participants showed up for the second annual Women's Football 101 Clinic.

UConn president Susan Herbst, women's basketball senior women's administrator Deb Corum, Andrea Dennis-Lavigne, a member of the UConn board of trustees were among those taking part along with a host of the parents of current UConn players.

"It is a great turnout, everybody is full of energy," said Diaco, who is delighted that the funds raised go to the UConn health center for cancer research. "Everybody is on fire, the players are jacked up and the participants are excited.

"I think one thing that is really cool is that when you do things like this, you see people and they are so excited, it can't help but make what you are doing really mean something, what you are doing is really important to people. There is a lot of interest and there is a lot of support especially when it has been lean, there is still this incredible collection of people who are on fire for the athletics, the university, it is fun."

Here are some videos from the event

UConn moving forward without TE Sean McQuillan

Friday night was supposed to be all about fun and games with the second annual Women's Football 101 Clinic being held on campus, however there is some serious news to report as UConn coach Bob Diaco said that Sean McQuillan was no longer a part of the program.

McQuillan, who would have been a fifth-year senior tight end, was arrested in April and charged with assault and disorderly conduct after an alleged fight with his roommate. He was not allowed to enroll for classes and was appealing to be reinstated so he could play his final season.

"I just got that word, Sean will be a graduate of the university and be moving on," Diaco said. "I wish him well. He was going to take a different academic track as he participated in his final year of his eligibility. He had accomplished everything he had to accomplish had his eligibility been expired here. Once that ruling came down he is a graduate of the university."

McQuillan addressed the premature end of his college career on Twitter.

I would like to thank my coaches and my brothers of the @UConnFootball family for everything, blessed to have played for you.

The news means that one of the team's most experienced offensive players will not be suiting up for the Huskies during the 2015 season. Sophomores Tommy Myers and Alec Bloom got some snaps a season ago and they will move into even more prominent roles now.

"They are a small group," Diaco said. "We want to play with a lot of tight ends. As much as I don't like to say it, we are going to have to force feed some of these freshmen (tight ends)."

"They are really coming on. Tommy Myers, I didn't realize how young he was even when I met him. He is just a young person. When I met him I think he was 17 but he is really starting to fill out, muscle up, lean, he is leaner than he has ever been and he is bigger than he has ever been. He is moving well, he has a little bit of swagger about him and Alec the same (thing), Alec I'll bet he's put on 20 pounds."

One more Diaco said he would not be making is moving former fullback Matt Walsh back to the offensive side of the ball. Walsh was moved to linebacker and had a strong spring camp and Diaco said he is keeping Walsh at linebacker saying "Matt's a linebacker."

Linebacker Jefferson Ashiru, a former starting linebacker at UConn, will be suiting up for Maryland for his final season.

Maryland announced the arrival of Ashiru, who will be able to play immediately because he has already graduated from UConn.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jefferson to the Maryland football family,” Maryland coach Randy Edsall said in a statement. “Jefferson has experience as a starter and can play multiple positions at linebacker. He has a tremendous work ethic and terrific understanding of the game. During his time at UConn, he played in a similar system and he will make a seamless transition. We are confident he will be a great team leader for our football program."

“I’m really excited to join the Maryland football program and have the opportunity to compete in the Big Ten Conference,” Ashiru said in a statement. “I have known Coach Edsall and was also recruited by (Maryland defensive backs coach) Darrell Perkins, so those relationships played a key role in my decision to come to Maryland. Coach Edsall is a tremendous leader who cares deeply about his players. I’m looking forward to furthering my education and continuing my football career for a great University. "

Ashiru played in 24 career games with 18 starts at UConn.

Also, former UConn tight end/defensive lineman Michae Boland is headed to Lackawanna College.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Former UConn star Jones signs with Cowboys

Byron Jones, the second UConn product to be a first-round pick in the NFL draft, agreed to terms with the Dallas Cowboys today.

Jones, who started for two seasons at safety and the final two at cornerback at UConn, has seen time at both positions during the team's Organized Team Activities.

Reports have the deal as being $8.6 million over four years with $7 million guaranteed.

Monday, June 08, 2015

UConn TE McQuillan not enrolled in school, appealing to return

Senior tight end Sean McQuillan, expected to be one of the top offensive playmakers on the 2015 UConn football, is not allowed to be enrolled in classes at UConn following his arrest for second-degree assault and disorderly conduct according to UConn coach Bob Diaco.

"It is one of these evolving private (situations) between Sean, his family and the courts and the university," Diaco said in a conference call with the media this morning. "I am clued in because they have tried to keep me in the loop but I am more clued into the university process because we are working together. We are in an appeals process with the school, he is not presently allowed to be a student right now. He is an appeals process to see how that is going to move forward. That shouldn't take too much longer."

McQuillan was arrested following a fight with his roommate in April. He had 16 catches a season ago second only to Noel Thomas among returning UConn players.

Diaco said that every other player they were expecting back is still with the program although some of them are doing summer internships so they aren't currently on campus. He made sure to mention that 31 players were named to the academic honor roll (actually 36 football players were part of the parade of 3.0 student-athletes at a women's basketball game in February including 4.0 students Justin Wain, Sean Marinan and Will Rishell).

Diaco took plenty of heat when he had a photo of the trophy designed for the UConn/Central Florida game tweeted out. Diaco dubbed the game the Civic Conflict before last year's UConn win. Central Florida officials said they were unaware of the trophy leading people to proclaim that Diaco was making UConn football a punch line.

Diaco said he didn't care about UCF's take on all of this.

"I was excited that on June 2 we were talking about UConn football, that was exciting," Diaco said. "The rivalry needs to start somewhere, somebody calls out somebody. I think it is fun and exciting. I think it is definitely going to add a layer of energy and excitement to our contest on the 10th (of October). Whether (Central Florida) honors it, we will honor it, we don't have control over that so who cares. They don't get to say whether they are our rival or not. We might not be their rival but they don't get to say whether they are our rival, that is for us to decide. For us it is pretty clean and clear because those are things we have control over. For us it is exciting, it is fun. If you embrace it you embrace it, if you don't you don't. There was nothing before so if you don't embrace it there would still be nothing. If you do even a little bit it is more energetic and exciting. For me that is what college football is.

"Why do I have to call their athletic department to say that we've got them targeted as our rival, period. What control over that would they have? What do I care what they think? If they don't want to be a part of the trophy, I don't care about that either.

"We got here and Central Florida is the best team in the league and I think they are the best coached team in the league. I have ultimate respect for Coach O'Leary, what he does and how he runs his program. They run a class program there so what better team for us to target. In our locker room they get a little extra work and they are going to get a little extra work. They are a target for us, it is a big game for us and they are going to get an extra heartbeat from us, whether they want to give it back to us or not that is on them."

Diaco said that a limited number of spots remain for Friday's Women's Football 101 Clinic are available.

Last but certainly not least at least in my eyes, Diaco is loosening up things for the media. It had gotten to the point where I wouldn't go to access periods because players were not made available to us. The low point for me came at the "Dog House" party which was in between my driving home from the women's basketball regional in Albany and flying to the Final Four. I showed up even though I was beyond exhausted after not getting home from Albany until 3 in the morning because I was told players were available but they were not. We ended up having six minutes of player access in the 14 practices before the spring game.  Well, today came the shock of all shock when Diaco told the media that we can show up at any practice we want, stay as long as we want and have access to players (other than true freshmen). Assistant coaches will be available after Wednesday practices during the season. There will be restrictions on what we can take video of but this was a welcome change and one that should benefit the program in the long run.

UConn will report for preseason camp on Aug. 6 with the first practice held on Aug. 7. Diaco is going for a true camp feeling so there won't be any media access until Aug. 12 which seems fair to me.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

Catching up with pair of UConn stars

Today was Marcus Easley's fifth annual football camp and after never being able to make it down there to catch up with the former UConn receiver, I was able to make the trip to Trumbull this morning.

It was actually a 2 for the price of 1 deal as Robert McClain was also there supporting his former college teammate.

I wrote a story focusing on Easley's desire to give back to the community he grew up in which should be up on the Register's site later on this afternoon. Both Easley and McClain spoke about the addition of Byron Jones, Geremy Davis, B.J. McBryde and Deshon Foxx to the list of UConn products in NFL training camps.

"Everybody wants to see their college with a lot of guys (in the NFL)," said McClain, who signed with the New England Patriots after three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. "I know guys back at UConn, I talked to Byron a little bit and it is good seeing UConn guys getting into the pros because we all have that same work ethic."

Davis is the first receiver from UConn selected in the NFL draft since Easley became the first former UConn WR drafted by an NFL team in 2010.

"He is a big strong physical guy, we are both from UConn so I am definitely (pulling for him)," Easley said. "I understand the grind and I would just tell him to keep doing what you are doing because it got you this far and it is only going to continue to take you places."

Speaking of receivers, fellow Bills wideouts Deonte Thompson and Robert Woods were among the NFL players taking part in today's camp.

"Guys don't like asking for help at this level so the fact that they reached out to me 'whatever you need, we will be there for you,'" Easley said. "They came from Buffalo, we have a few that came from Tampa and that just shows the love that is out there. The guys support me and I would do the same for them."

Easley, who signed a four-year extension in March, is somewhat excited about the changes in Buffalo including the hiring of former New York Jets coach Rex Ryan as the Bills new coach.

"It is pretty exciting, they couldn't have picked a better coach for us to play for knowing how things went the last two seasons," Easley said. "I'm not saying that (Doug) Marrone isn't a good coach or anything but it was a transition that needed to be made and who doesn't love Rex Ryan? He is a player's coach, he definitely won the team over and it is a really good vibe right now. They made some big splashes in free agency and signed me as well so I am grateful for that. They (Buffalo fans) haven't been this excited in a long, long time."

Easley doesn't get back to UConn as often as he would like. He was there in November when the memorial was unveiled in honor of slain former UConn cornerback Jasper Howard.

"There are a lot of new faces up there with the coaching changes," Easley said. "They had two new coaches since I have been there so any opportunity I get to go I try to but the last time I was there was last season when they unveiled the statue for Jasper Howard and it was good to see everybody. It was special but it makes you reminisce about that day and that night when I got that call. It is unfortunate something like that happens but it just makes you appreciate those guys because we have been through a life changing experience."

While Easley has been with Buffalo since he was drafted, McClain is on his fourth NFL team. He happens to be joining the defending Super Bowl champions.

"I am just excited to be on the team and ready to contribute and help the team," McClain said. "There are changes all over the NFL, it happens every year but the only thing I can control is what I can do.

"I had a good career in Atlanta. It is part of the business, guys go to different teams and they move around a lot."

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Thursday, June 04, 2015

More UConn comings and goings in CFL

It's been an eventful month or so in the CFL for former UConn products.

The latest news is that while Teddy Jennings time in the Montreal Alouettes camp was rather brief, Terrance Jeffers-Harris has joined the British Columbia Lions.

Jeffers-Harris is no stranger to CFL fans as this is the fifth different CFL team he has been with. Back in 2010 he caught 48 passes with Winnipeg.

Jennings was cut by Montreal on May 30. Considering how well he played in the Arena Football League before signing with Montreal, it will be interesting to see if he lands back in the AFL.

As for the CFL, the preseason schedule begins on Monday with Ottawa, featuring No. 1 overall pick Alex Mateas, playing Hamilton.

UConn recruit Holman has quite the story

In the days and weeks leading up to national signing day there was just one story I was clamoring to write and it certainly wasn't about the Civic Conflict trophy which has received an absurd amount of media coverage.

When Zordan Holman committed to UConn it was mentioned rather frequently that he was an age group world champion in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. However, that was only a part of Holman's story. The more research I did on him the more compelling his story was. His father served as a general in the Croatian army and became a prisoner of war for a year. I've seen mentions of this part of his background but not more in depth coverage of his family's amazing odyssey.

As luck would have it I have family living about an hour from Portland, Maine where the Holman family has resided since 1999. I was able to sit down with Zordan on Tuesday morning and the story I wrote on him will be appearing on the Register's site in the next day or two. Since it was impossible to keep his story to a reasonable length, the print version probably won't be appearing until next week.

I met Zordan the morning after his high school graduation. The Cheverus High School graduation ceremony is a little different because the boys were tuxedos and the girls are dressed in evening gowns.

He said he said been doing  a daily countdown until he arrives at UConn on June 21.

"I am actually counting down the days and you realize right after graduation that it is right around the corner. It is right there, it is a hop, skip and a jump. It is going to be a truly new experience, it is going to be a challenge and I can't wait."

Shortly after Bob Diaco was hired and his staff was put together they began the pursuit of the 6-foot-6 Holman.

"They started recruiting me in my junior year, I went down to the school and met Coach Diaco," Holman said. "I was recruited by Coach Cummings and they are my types of guys. There is a sense of community, a sense of family and it is more than just football. Obviously they are there to win games but they care you as a whole person and I fell in love with that. Obviously football is a large part of that but the education I can get after the schooling there it is invaluable.

"I always had the dream of playing Division I football and maybe one day playing in the NFL since I was a little kid. For a kid from Maine getting a Division I scholarship doesn't happen often. It call came to fruition a few days after I visited in my junior year and Coach Diaco offered me a scholarship over the phone. It was a pretty great feeling knowing all the hard work, all the time I spent in the class room and in the weight room. There are no absolutely in life but one thing that became aware to me that if you work hard it will pay off."

Holman joins Ian Campbell and Chris Lee as incoming freshmen projecting to play tight end. Tommy Myers and Alec Bloom are heading into their sophomore seasons so there is plenty of youth at the tight end position.

"Competition is a great thing," Holman said. "Six or seven guys competing for one position, it is good for the program and helps establish a sense of a winning culture there and that is a big thing of what Coach Diaco and the coaches are trying to do there and I am happy to be a part of it.

"Obviously UConn has had success with the football program in the past, (playing in) the Fiesta Bowl and they have won a few bowl games. The university has done all the right things, hired a great coach and he will prove that over time. but it is going to take some time, Rome wasn't built in a day."

I'm going to hold off of posting the stuff from his mixed martial arts background or what he had to say about his father's time in the military and decision to move the family to the United States until the story runs on the site. But here is a little bit of what he had to say on the subject.

"It was me, my two sisters, my parents. Could you imagine you are 30-35 years old, you don't know the language, you are going to take three small kids over, you don't have a dollar to your name. We talk about just doing the right thing, mental toughness, what the best thing about being a man and that sums it to be me right there.

"It puts things into perspective, it is a very eye opening, very humbling experience. I could be over there right now fighting for my life or I could going to school from 8-2. It's an easy choice if you ask me. I've been blessed with an opportunity that a lot of kids don't have and I am looking forward in 19 days to taking advantage of it. It is a new challenge, a new page and I am ready."


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

UConn's Poindexter on Hall of Fame ballot

UConn defensive coordinator Anthony Poindexter was among those on the ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame.

Poindexter was a standout at Virginia where he was a three-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection and ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 1998.

Former UConn linebacker John Dorsey, now the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, Stratford native and former Villanova High star linebacker Curtis Eller and Yale defensive lineman John Zanieski are also on the ballot.

Former Southern Connecticut State athletic director Darryl Rogers and former Trinity coach Don Miller are among those listed on the coaches' ballot.