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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