Friday, August 21, 2015

Versatile DeLorenzo ready to contribute during final season at UConn

The scrimmage stretched from the late morning to the early afternoon on a balmy Thursday at Rentschler Field but Max DeLorenzo's work was far from being finished.

While his five carries only netted 11 yards, the lone senior running back on the UConn squad had a chance to display another aspect of his game when he floated down the near sideline. Bryant Shirreffs' pass was just a tad on the high side and a little behind him when DeLorenzo reached up and snared the ball for the most impressive reception by somebody not named Noel Thomas. The 12-yard catch got the drive going in the right direction and could be a sign of things to come.

DeLorenzo has caught a total of 14 passes in three seasons at UConn but it is a part of his game that is has a lot of confidence in.

"That is one of my strengths. In (Berlin) high school I was good with my hands, came into high school with good hands but now I am finally getting utilized as a receiver, in the slot and I love it," DeLorenzo said. "I love being versatile and consistent with everything I do whether that is fullback, tailback, slot, wideout or whatever."

At the first practice the media was allowed in to watch, offensive coordinator and running backs coach Frank Verducci could be heard saying to DeLorenzo "I've never seen you catch the ball better."

If that is what it takes for DeLorenzo to get on the field, that is fine with him. A year ago DeLorenzo had a bit of a bizarre season. He led the team with 57 rushing attempts in the first five games of the season. Then he had just 13 carries over the next six games as true freshmen Ron Johnson and Arkeel Newsome became featured backs. Then in a season-ending loss to SMU he ran for a season-high 66 yards aided by a 46-yard touchdown scamper.

Johnson and Newsome are both back and looking more confident as well as quicker so it would seem likely they will once again be key cogs in the running game. Josh Marriner, also heading into his sophomore season, is another young runner with plenty of promise. DeLorenzo knows the deal and he is ready to embrace any role the coaches have for him.

"It comes to the point where we have so much talent especially us four at tailback and we are all going to have a role," DeLorenzo said. "Some games I may get less than five carries, some games I might get 15 plus you never know. It is just what the coaches want, how the rhythm of the game is going and who is hot."

So what has DeLorenzo seen in his younger tailbacks?

"Mental growth and maturity," DeLorenzo said. "They are all obviously talented and not knowing the game, the defenses too much last year and they are starting to pick it up. You can see the blitzes that are coming, see holes, set up blocks so as long as they keep going like that, they will be great."

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