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.


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