Friday, May 29, 2015

Former UConn DE Jesse Joseph headed back home

Jeese Joseph is set to give the CFL his best shot.

The former UConn defensive end and Laval, Quebec native was taken by the Montreal Alouettes in the third round of the 2013 CFL Draft as he prepared for his fifth and final season at UConn. A year ago he was invited into the Chicago Bears rookie camp but there hasn't been much news about him - until this week.

The Alouettes announced that they signed Joseph, who had 13 sacks while at UConn. What's interesting is that one of his fellow defensive linemen in Montreal will be former UConn teammate Teddy Jennings. Jennings tore it up as a rookie in the Arena Football League recording 11 sacks in 15 games. Veteran long snapper Martin Bedard gives the Alouettes three UConn grads on its current roster. By my count there are six former UConn standouts in camp with CFL teams as receiver Kashif Moore and running back Lyle McCombs are attempting to stick with the Toronto Argonauts and Alex Mateas was taken by Ottawa with the top pick in this year's CFL Draft.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

AAC announces details on title game

The American Athletic Conference announced that the inaugural football championship game will be played on Dec. 5 at noon at the home site of one of the two teams.

The 2015 season there will be two six-team divisions with the winners meeting in the title game.

The East Division includes UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, USF and Temple. The West Division lineup is Houston, Memphis, Navy, SMU, Tulane and Tulsa. The two divisional champions will meet in The American Championship at the home site of one of the participants.

AAC updates concussion protocol

At its annual meeting the American Athletic Conference unanimously approved a new concussion management policy.

Much of it is common sense stuff including prohibiting a player diagnosed with a concussion from being able to return to the game that day.

Here are the highlights

Each institution shall have a concussion management plan in place for all sports and an updated plan shall be filed annually with the Conference office by no later than August 1. At minimum, the institution’s concussion management plan must include:
  1. The medical staff has the unchallengeable authority to remove a student-athlete from and to return the student-athlete to activities/return to learn. No coach may serve as the primary supervisor for any medical provider, or have hiring, retention or dismissal authority over that provider.
 2. The concussion management plan should specifically outline the roles of the athletics healthcare staff (e.g., physician, athletic trainer, physical therapist) and the specific protocol for evaluation and management of concussions.
 3. If a student-athlete exhibits signs/symptoms of a concussion, that student-athlete will be immediately removed from play and evaluated by the medical staff.
 4. If the student-athlete is diagnosed with a concussion by a certified medical professional, that student-athlete will not be allowed to return to play that day. Monitoring will begin and the concussion management plan for that institution will be adhered to.

There will also be conference-wide education on safe tackling in conjunction with a partnership with USA Football and the Heads-up tackling program.

Right on cue, the Worcester Magazine posted an interview with former UConn linebacker Yawin Smallwood about his experience after suffering a concussion while in high school.

“When I was in high school, concussions were taken as a joke, kind of,” Smallwood said. “Nowadays, when someone has a concussion, trainers and staff take it a lot more seriously. Once you have a concussion, you’re automatically out now.

“You need to be smart, because if you’re out there with a concussion or something, you’re not playing to the best of your ability. So you need to tell a coach if you’re hurt, because they’re going to judge you by every play that you’re out there.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Couple of times added for upcoming season

It is time to add the times of the Villanova and East Carolina games to the previously reported time of the game at BYU for UConn.

The Huskies will host Villanova in the 2015 season opener on Sept. 3 beginning at 7:30 p.m. The game will air on SNY.

Also, when UConn hosts East Carolina on Oct. 30, the game will start a few minutes after 7 p.m. and air on ESPNU. The Oct. 2 game at BYU will begin at 10:15 p.m. and be televised on either ESPN or ESPN2.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

UConn commit runs to glory

Wins were a little hard to come by on the football field in Tyraiq Beals' final high school season but all of that changed when the UConn incoming freshman turned his attention to the track.

Back in February Beals helped East Orange Campus win its first indoor track and field state title when East Orange won the NJSIAA Group 4 championship. Over the weekend Beals and his teammates were at it again.

Beals, one of the most productive high school receivers in New Jersey as a senior, finished fifth in the 400 hurdles in a time of 56.90 (1.4 seconds faster than his seeded time) and sixth in the 110 high hurdles in a time of 15.10 to provide some valuable points in a meet where every point proved to be valuable.

East Orange came into the final event of the North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 championships trailing Piscataway by 1.66 points and leading Columbia by 2.33 points. East Orange Campus' second-place finish proved to be just enough to win East Orange's first outdoor state title since 1985. Columbia won the race followed by East Orange and Piscataway. When the final numbers were tabulated, East Orange Campus finished with 66.33 points while Columbia and Piscataway finished tied with 66 points.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

UConn/Syracuse series officially announced

UConn has finally made it official that it has agreed to a home and home series with former Big East rival Syracuse.

The first game will be at Rentschler Field on Sept. 24, 2016 with the return game at the Carrier Dome on Sept. 29, 2018.

UConn won five of the nine meetings between the teams from 2004-12. The last meeting, however, was a 40-10 win by Syracuse  on Oct. 19, 2012 which wasn't even that close.

The signing of the series means that all the spots in the 2016 non-conference schedule has been accounted for as UConn hosts Maine on Sept. 3, Virginia on Sept. 17, play UMass at Gillette Stadium on Sept. 10 in addition to the Syracuse game.

Also, the 2018 season opener will be against former Yankee Conference rival Rhode Island. UConn and URI have met 94 times but have not played each other since 2009.

Here's the non-conference breakdown

2016: September 3, Maine; September 10, at UMass (Gillette Stadium, Foxborough Mass.), September 17, Virginia; September 24, Syracuse.
2017: September 2, UMass, September 9, Holy Cross; September 16, at Virginia; September 23, Missouri.
2018: August 30, Rhode Island; September 8, at Boise State; September 29 at Syracuse.
2019: September 7, Illinois; September 21, at Indiana
2020: September 12, at Illinois; September 26, Indiana
UConn and Tennessee have a two-game home-and-home series under contract with dates to be determined.

Here is the conference schedule breakdown
Home: UCF, Cincinnati, Temple, Tulane
Away: East Carolina, Houston, Navy, USF
Does Not Play: Memphis, SMU, Tulsa
2017Home: East Carolina, Memphis, USF, Tulsa
Away: UCF, Cincinnati, SMU, Temple
Does Not Play: Houston, Navy, Tulane
Home: UCF, Cincinnati, SMU, Temple
Away: East Carolina, Memphis, USF, Tulsa
Does Not Play: Houston, Navy, Tulane

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Former UConn OT Beatty could miss NFL season

Seeing multiple reports that former UConn offensive lineman Will Beatty not only suffered a torn pec but also is undergoing surgery putting his NFL season very much in jeopardy.

Tom Rock @TomRock_Newsday
Am told Will Beatty just went in for surgery on torn pec at HSS. Recovery said to be 5 months. That's back on the field around November.

Beatty has played in every regular-season game over the last three years starting 47 of 48 games. He has played 82 regular-season games including 63 starts for the New York Giants since being taken in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft.

If there is a silver lining for the Giants, they did draft offensive tackle Ereck Flowers out of Miami with the ninth overall pick in this year's draft.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

UConn's Crozier named to Rimington Trophy spring watch list

Ryan Crozier hasn't taken a snap at center yet (except during spring practice) but he showed enough promise while starting the final three games of his freshman season at left guard to receive national recognition by being named as one of the 52 centers named to the Rimington Trophy spring watch list.

Crozier is the only true sophomore on the list and one of five sophomores named to the watch list.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Former UConn WR Deshon Foxx signs with Seahawks

Former UConn receiver Deshon Foxx has been signed by the defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks after taking part in rookie camp on a tryout basis according to a tweet by his agent Sean Stellato..

Proud of SES client & former U-Conn sensation @DeshonFoxx for signing with the @Seahawks #BestIsYetToCome #GodIsGood

There are nine receivers on the most recent Seattle roster (which has not been updated with the addition of Foxx) including third-round pick Tyler Lockett, who figures to handle much of the special team return duties.

Since he arrived at UConn Foxx played running back, receiver and was used at quarterback late in his senior season.

Foxx finished second on the 2014 UConn team with 716 all-purpose yards as he was the Huskies' second-leading receiver with 30 catches for 384 yards, was the third-leading rusher with 203 yards and was also the team's primary punt returner. He might have been the only senior who saw his role expand as the season wore on as many of his classmates lost playing time to younger players as first-year coach Bob Diaco used the 2014 to lay the foundation for the future.

He was also the subject of one of my favorite UConn stories from the past season as he told me about the meaning of the tattoos on both of his wrists.

Foxx becomes fifth member of 2014 UConn team signed or drafted by a pro team as Byron Jones was a first-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys, Geremy Davis was selected in the sixth round by the New York Giants, B.J. McBryde was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted free agent and Alex Mateas was the No. 1 overall pick by the Ottawa RedBlacks in the CFL draft.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Former UConn RB Lyle McCombs gets CFL shot

Former UConn products have certainly been making the CFL news wire this week.

The headliner was Alex Mateas, who was the top overall pick in the CFL Draft. Mateas was taken by Ottawa leading to a potential reunion with fellow former Husky John Delahunt. However, the team announced that Delahunt was retiring due to issues with his left knee.

"When you have given something your all for as long as I have, it’s tough to look back and have regrets or anything,” Delahunt told the Ottawa Sun.

Now comes word that former UConn running back Lyle McCombs has been signed by the Toronto Argonauts.

McCombs ran for 2,681 yards, the fourth highest total in UConn history even though he played his senior season at Rhode Island.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

UConn's Mateas taken with top pick in CFL draft

Less than two weeks after Byron Jones became the second UConn product taken in the first round in the NFL draft another former Husky made history.

Alex Mateas was taken by Ottawa with the first overall pick in the CFL draft.

"It is a great honor," Mateas said. "This draft is packed with offensive linemen so it could have gone either way so I am excited they picked me and it is a great honor to be picked No. 1. Being drafted to your home city, you couldn't ask for anything better.

"It is time to focus on what we do and our job and that is to play pro football so it is now to get back to the grind."

Mateas, who started the last 25 games at center and 29 games in his three seasons with the Huskies, and is the only offensive player to start every game at UConn during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, became the first player from a U.S. college to go first overall since Washington State's Adam Braidwood was selected with the top pick by Edmonton in 2006. The Ottawa native is the first player from a New England university taken with the top pick was Tim Fleiszer of Harvard back in 1998.

The CFL is well acquainted with UConn players as Mateas is the seventh Husky taken since 2004 second behind only Eastern Michigan for the most players selected from a U.S. college since 2004. Moe Petrus, who was the starting center at UConn in 2011 when Mateas was redshirting after transferring from Penn State, held the distinction for the highest selection by a UConn products in the CFL Draft before tonight as Petrus was taken 10th overall in 2011.

Mateas recently took part in rookie camp with the New York Jets on a tryout basis but was not signed. Now he will become the fourth member of the 2014 UConn squad to sign with a pro football team as defensive back Byron Jones was taken in the first round by the Dallas Cowboys, receiver Geremy Davis was a sixth-round selection by the New York Giants and defensive lineman B.J. McBryde signed with the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted rookie free agent.

"Pro day, there were a lot of people there and I got to watch my teammates perform well so to see them succeed, give it a shot in the NFL is just unbelievable," Mateas said. "I know they are going to prove their worth and really be names in that league. Overall it has been awesome experience."

Former Yale running back Tyler Varga was taken by Calgary with the 19th overall pick. Varga was considered to be one of the top prospects in the draft but he signed as an undrafted free agent and he made it clear that playing in the NFL was his main priority at the current time resulting in him falling to the third round.

Here's UConn history in the CFL Draft
2015: Alex Mateas, OL Ottawa 1-1
2013: Jesse Joseph, DE Montreal 3-23
2011: Moe Petrus, OL Hamilton 2-10
2009: Martin Bedard, TE Montreal 2-14
2006: DE Shawn Mayne, Hamilton 3-18
2006: DL Jason Ward, British Columbia 6-48
2004: WR O'Neil Wilson, Montreal 3-25


UConn's Warde Manuel honored

UConn director of athletics Warde Manuel was one of 28 athletic directors named Under Armour ADs of the Year,

Manuel was one of four winners from the Football Bowl Subdivision level joining Kentucky's Mitch Barnhart, TCU's Chris Del Conte and Ian McCaw of Baylor. Former UConn AD Jeff Hathaway, now at Hofstra, was one of the winners at the Division I-AAA level.

Manuel and the other winners will be honored on June 17.

Monday, May 11, 2015

UConn's Mateas a candidate for No. 1 overall pick in CFL Draft

Byron Jones and Geremy Davis were fortunate to hear their names called in the NFL Draft. Now it is Alex Mateas' turn to be selected by a professional football team.

Mateas, the only offensive player to start every game for UConn over the last two seasons, is in the running to be the first overall pick in Tuesday's CFL Draft.

Mateas, an Ottawa native, is the No. 3 prospect in the final CFL Scouting Bureau rankings released on Apr. 24. However, the top-rated player (defensive end Christian Covington) was selected by the Houston Texans in the sixth round in the NFL Draft. The second-rated player is offensive lineman Brett Boyko, who was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles as an undrafted rookie free agent. Yale running back Tyler Varga, the fourth-rated player in the final pre-draft rankings, signed with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent and has made his intentions clear that his focus is on making it onto an NFL roster. Mateas received an invitation to New York Jets camp on a tryout basis but he was not among the tryout players who were signed by the Jets. As a result, he would seem to be the safest pick among the top CFL Draft prospects.

The draft will be held on Tuesday beginning at 8 p.m. It will air on TSN2 in Canada. Ottawa was the No. 1 overall pick.

Mateas, Varga and Wesleyan linebacker Dee Simons are the only players with state ties eligible for the draft.

In other news, the Detroit Lions announced that it signed three players who attended rookie camp on a tryout basis but the list does not include former UConn defensive end/linebacker Reuben Frank. Also, Deshon Foxx was not among the tryout players signed by the Seattle Seahawks.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

Seniors make the grade at UConn

It was not the easiest of seasons for the seniors on the 2014 UConn football team as the Huskies limped to a 2-10 record with only one win against an FBS opponent. However, they took care of business away from the field.

This weekend was graduation for the Class of 2015 and all 12 seniors on the football roster (Chris DeBerry, Deshon Foxx, Gus Cruz, Geremy Davis, Reuben Frank, Byron Jones, Alex Mateas, B.J. McBryde, Adam Mueller, Angelo Pruitt, Brandon Steg and Chandler Whitmer) were listed among the UConn graduates.

Of course many of those listed above were a little busy this weekend as they were attending NFL rookie camps.

Byron Jones, a first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys, and Geremy Davis, a sixth-round pick of the New York Giants, didn't have to worry about playing their onto their respective team's 90-man roster. McBryde signed as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles so he'll also be coming back for training camp. There's not much news to report for Foxx, Frank, Mateas and Whitmer who got invites to rookie camp on a tryout basis.

I've seen reports of the Detroit Lions signing (or planning to sign) three tryouts players but Frank wasn't among them. I haven't seen updates on the Jets (where Mateas was at camp), Eagles (where Whitmer was in camp) and Seahawks (where Foxx was among the rookies in camp) agreeing to sign any of the tryout players. Mateas has a pretty good option No. 2 as he is among the top-rated prospects for Tuesday's CFL Draft.

UConn's Davis signs with Giants

Geremy Davis signed his rookie contract with the New York Giants yesterday.

Davis was taken in the sixth round (No. 186 overall) by the Giants and is currently taking part in rookie camp.

I have seen multiple reports that the Giants signed two players with local ties - former Xavier High star Will Tye and Carlif Taylor, a defensive tackle out of Southern Connecticut State, are they were invited to camp on a tryout basis.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Details announced for 2nd annual Women's Football 101 Clinic at UConn

The inaugural Women's Football 101 Clinic was quite the experience for everybody involved and UConn announced details for this year's event slated for June 12 at the Burton Football Family Complex and Mark R. Shenkman Training Center in Storrs.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. with the cocktail hour and registration while the clinic goes from 6:30-9:00 p.m.

All participants are asked to wear athletic clothing and shoes to the clinic. All participants must be 21 years or older.

The registration cost is $40 per person and includes a t-shirt, food, souvenir item and two tickets to see the Huskies play Army on Saturday, September 12 at Rentschler Field.

Proceeds of the event will benefit programs for women’s cancer prevention and treatment at UConn Health.

To register for the event, go to

Here are some videos from last year's event.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Seven UConn products heading to NFL rookie camps

It's a pretty special time for many of the seniors on the 2014 UConn football team.

Led by Byron Jones, the first-round pick by the Dallas Cowboys, and Geremy Davis, taken in the sixth round by the New York Giants, five seniors from a squad which finished 2-10 will be taking part in NFL rookie camps. Defensive lineman B.J. McBryde signed as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles while linebacker/defensive end Reuben Frank  (Detroit Lions), center Alex Mateas (New York Jets) and Deshon Foxx (Seattle Seahawks) will head to camp on a tryout basis which is something that Foxx was receiving congratulations for via social media for days but was officially confirmed by Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. I just saw a tweet from Ed Kracz, who covers the Philadelphia Eagles for three papers in the Calkins Media chain, saw that quarterback Chandler Whitmer is heading to camp with the Eagles. Also, former UConn receivers Tebucky Jones and Andrew Opoku, who finished their collegiate careers at Fordham and Delaware respectively, received invitations to training camp by the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens.

There's a pretty good number of players from Connecticut colleges or who grew up in Connecticut getting a chance at pro football.

Sacred Heart had four players going to rookie camp led by safety Gordon Hill, who was signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Diego Chargers. Cornerback JD Roussel (Green Bay Packers), defensive lineman Troy Moore (Carolina Panthers) and running back Keshaudas Spence (Jacksonville Jaguars) earned training camp invitations.

Yale has three rookies heading to camp as running back Tyler Varga was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Indianapolis Colts, linebacker Charles Cook is going to camp with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and receiver Chris Smith, who graduated in 2013, is going to the Patriots camp.

The New York Giants invited former Southern Connecticut State defensive lineman Carlif Taylor and former Xavier High tight end Will Tye, who played collegiately at Florida State and Stony Brook. Central Connecticut State running back Rob Holloman is heading to camp with the New Orleans Saints.

Former Valley Regional star Mitch King, who played at Penn, is going to camp with the Packers while Wethersfield native Tyler Murphy, a former quarterback at Florida and Boston College, is headed to camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent where he will move to receiver. Southington's Jordan Chapman, a defensive back out of Fordham, is going to Ravens camp.

Former Windsor High star Ryan Delaire, a standout defensive end at Towson, was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Hopefully I didn't miss anybody.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Two more former UConn players headed to NFL camps

It was well documented that Geremy Davis got the call from the NFL when the New York Giants made him the 186th player taken in the NFL draft.

A couple of other receivers who started their college career at UConn will also be heading to NFL training camp.

Former UConn receiver Tebucky Jones, who had seven catches during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, will be heading to rookie camp with the Tennessee Titans.

Jones had more than 1,000 receiving yards in both of his seasons at Fordham and is the team's career leader with 2,346 receiving yards even though he played for the Rams for only two seasons.

Andrew Opoku, who had 10 tackles as a reserve linebacker at UConn during the 2011, moved to receiver when he transferred to Delaware. According to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun, Opoku was invited to camp with the Baltimore Ravens.

I haven't heard anything about Shakim Phillips getting an invite for rookie camp which is somewhat surprising.

List of UConn players in the CFL is shrinking

We're less than a week away from Alex Mateas likely being a first-round pick in the CFL draft. However, recent CFL transactions have not been bringing good news for former UConn players.

Larry Taylor, one of the most productive kickoff and punt returners in CFL history, was cut by Montreal and just two and a half weeks after being signed, cornerback Taylor Mack was let go by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Former UConn quarterback Shane Fogarty returning to Fordham

Former UConn quarterback and assistant coach Shane Fogarty is embarking on a second stint as an assistant coach at Fordham according to a tweet on the Fordham football official site.

Rose Hill: Please welcome the newest member to the @FORDHAMFOOTBALL Coaching Staff @CoachFogarty  #nyc'sfootballteam

Fogarty spent two seasons as a graduate assistant at UConn following the end of his playing career. After two years at Fordham he returned to UConn to coach the safeties during the 2013 season. However, he was among the coaches not retained when Bob Diaco was hired at UConn. He spent the 2014 season at Colby to serve as the offensive coordinator.

Fogarty is the latest coach with ties to UConn to land at Fordham led by head coach Joe Moorhead, a former offensive coordinator with the Huskies. Co-Defensive Coordinator and linebackers coach Jon Wholley is also a former UConn player and graduate assistant who spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the Huskies. He returned to Fordham where he was an assistant coach in 2009 after none of the UConn defensive coaches were retained by Diaco.

Special teams administrator Zack Etter is a 2014 UConn graduate who was a student assistant coach on the 2013 UConn squad.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

UConn's Geremy Davis gets the NFL call

The minutes turned into hours as he waited for his name to be called on the final day of the NFL Draft and Geremy Davis couldn't take it any longer.

The hands which put him on the radar of NFL teams had held the cell phone long enough. He finally asked his best friend and former high school teammate Jose Morales to hang onto the phone. That seemed to do the trick as Morales had the phone in his hands when the New York Giants called to say they were taking him in the sixth round.

"I was looking at my phone the whole time and then I gave it my best friend because I was getting a little antsy," Davis said. "He said 'yo, your phone is ringing.' He passed me my phone. Everybody wants to joke around and say he is my good luck charm."

There was nothing lucky about Davis journey from underrated recruit to NFL draftee.

Davis had a chance to show what he could do when he played in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in January where former NFL receivers Andre Reed and Az-Zahir Hakim were his position coaches.
"I really liked working with him," Hakim said. "He's a good kid, a hard worker, a good teammate. He catches the ball well, he isn't afraid to go over the middle."

There were still questions about whether he would be drafted even after Davis went to the NFL Scouting Combine and finished among the top 10 in his position group in the broad jump, 3-cone drill and in the 60-yard shuttle while tying for the best mark with 23 repetitions at 225 pounds in the bench press. Former Dallas Cowboys draft guru Gil Brandt broke down the tape and reported that Davis was one of two receivers at the combine who didn't drop a catchable pass during the 2014 season but scouts questioned whether Davis was fast enough to play in the NFL. Many of those naysayers were silenced when Davis ran under 4.5 seconds in both of his 40-yard dashes with 29 NFL teams with scouts or coaches in attendance.

"After I ran in the 4.4s I was praising God and knew there was an opportunity to hear my name called," Davis said.

"It's a true blessing to get this opportunity. I am happy that they Giants gave me this opportunity. I am going to work, giving it all I have. I always had that crazy work ethic, that perfectionist work ethic. I just have to make sure I have that same attitude plus more when I get there."

The Giants doesn't exactly lack in talented young receivers including Odell Beckham Jr., winner of multiple NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year awards so being a part of the receiving rotation won't be easy.

In an interview on the NFL Network New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Davis "is a big strong guy who will help us on special teams."

Davis is ready to play whatever role the Giants have in store for him.

"Regardless of the round, you have to go there and prove yourself," Davis said. "The best feeling in the world is to be wanted. They called my name, they gave me this opportunity to prove myself."

This is the seventh time in last eight years that at least two UConn players have been taken in the NFL Draft as Byron Jones was taken in the first round by Dallas.

"I am so happy," Davis said. "We worked so hard. I was just happy when I saw Byron's name called. I had to patiently wait fro my opportunity, I got my name called."

If Davis makes the Giants he could very well line up against Jones twice a season as the Giants and Cowboys both play in the NFC East.

"That is pretty cool," Davis said. "I know his game. It would be a little sentimental knowing that I am going up against a real close friend but at the same time he knows my game as well."

While he didn't get drafted, B.J. McBryde is getting his NFL shot as he has signed as an undrafted free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles.

'I have been wanted to be with them from the start, this whole process this is the team I wanted," McBryde said. "They were at the top of my list."

The Eagles were one of the teams on the phone with McBryde as the final picks were being announced.

"There were seven or eight picks left and they were on the phone with me along with quite a few teams but they were the ones I wanted," McBryde said.

"I am on CloudNine, I am going to go celebrate with my family, get some dinner and get ready for rookie camp on Thursday. This is a big moment for me, I am getting ready to prove that I can play this sport at the next level which is what I have been wanting to do for a while."

The Eagles sent four assistant coaches including defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro headed up to UConn to work out Jones, Davis and McBryde a week before the draft. While the Eagles didn't draft either Jones or Davis, getting a closer look at McBryde (who the Eagles project as a 5 technique defensive end in the 3-4 defense).

McBryde was thrilled to see his former teammates add to the list of UConn players getting drafted.

"I let out a scream when I saw Byron go and Geremy go, it is all I wanted. I am so excited for those guys," McBryde said. "I am really anxious to see how well they do."

Also, Ross Jones, who is the NFL Editor for, is reporting that DE/LB Reuben Frank has earned a tryout with the Detroit Lions so there will be four members of the 2014 UConn team in pro training camps. That number will grow as center Alex Mateas is the No. 3 overall prospect for the CFL Draft set for May 12.


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Friday, May 01, 2015

Brushing up on Connecticut's NFL Draft history

When Byron Jones was taken by Dallas with the 27th pick in the first round, he became the second UConn player selected in the first round as well as the first Connecticut native to go in the first round since 2002.

Out of curiosity I looked back at how the other players who were the top state natives to get taken in the draft. It is a mixed bag to say the least.

Dwight Freeney, the 11th overall draft pick in 2002, is in the top 20 on the NFL's career sacks list while Matt Shaughnessy has started 38 of the 43 games he has played in over the last four seasons.

John Moffitt walked away on his own terms after appearing in 15 games over three seasons while injuries have limited former UConn offensive lineman Donald Thomas to two games over the last two seasons. Former UConn quarterback Dan Orlovsky started 12 games during the 2008 and 2011 seasons but threw a total of 24 passes in the other five seasons he was in the league.

Amari Spievey made an impact in his first two seasons in Detroit, Bobby Myers returned a fumble for a touchdown for Tennessee in 2001 but managed just 12 sacks in 18 career games, Andrew Pinnock carried the ball 18 times in five seasons with the San Diego Chargers while the jury is still out on John Jenkins and Khairi Fortt.

It should be noted that I did not include former state high school football stars Vladimir Ducasse, John Sullivan and Chukky Okobi because they weren't born in Connecticut. The story is the same with former UConn star Sio Moore, who was born in Liberia.

2015; Byron Jones 1-27 Dallas
2014: Khairi Fortt 4-126 New Orleans
2013: John Jenkins 3-82 New Orleans
2012: none
2011: John Moffitt 3-75 Seattle
2010: Amari Spievey 3-66 (Stamford High's Vladimir Ducasse, who was taken with the 61st overall pick, was born in Haiti)
2009: Matt Shaughnessy 3-71 (Terrance Knighton taken by Jacksonville with next pick)
2008: Donald Thomas 6-195 Miami (John Sullivan, who was taken with 187th pick, was born in Mount Kisco, N.Y.)
2007: none
2006: none
2005: Dan Orlovsky 5-145 Detroit
2004: none
2003: Andrew Pinnock 7-229 San Diego
2002: Dwight Freeney 1-11 Indianapolis
2001: none (Hamden's Chukky Okobi, who was taken with the 146th pick, was born in Pittsburgh)
2000: Bobby Myers 4-124 Tennessee

UConn's Jones ready for next stage of his football career

The curiosity factor might have been at the top of the list the last time Byron Jones made his way to Dallas. There are going to feelings of anticipation and satisfaction as he returns to Dallas as the team's latest first-round draft pick.

The Cowboys had a glaring need for help in the secondary so it was hardly a surprise when they used one of their 30 non-local prospect visits on the four-year starter at UConn.

"We had a good conversation when I went down there for a visit," Jones said.

When the card was turned in and the Cowboys officially had selected Jones, the team's brain trust was absolute giddy. When owner Jerry Jones, head coach Jason Garrett and secondary coach Jerome Henderson met with the media they made it clear that Jones was one of their top targets. Jerry Jones said he was among the top 15/16 players on their board and he was thrilled to get him at No. 7.

"It was cool to have reaction, it was important to me," Byron Jones said. "It means a lot."

On draft day Jones made a point of thanking his parents when he was asked who he'd like to send his appreciation for allowing him to get to this point.

"When I come to this point there is not one person to thank, there aren't two people to thank. It was a special moment for me but it was a special moment for the (people) who supported me."

It's been a bit of a whirlwind for Jones since he joined Donald Brown as the only UConn players taken in the first round.

"A lot of the guys on the team are Dallas fans so those guys are really excited," Jones said.

Garrett made a point of emphasizing that Jones was not drafted because he had one of the most impressive showings in the history of the NFL Scouting Combine but Jones knows that when he set the combine record in the broad jump, also had the best performance in the 60-yard shuttle, finished 1/2 inch off the best mark in the vertical jump and also was among the top performers in the 20-yard shuttle that he put his name on the radar of pretty much every NFL team.

"It gave me some exposure," Jones said. "It gave people a second chance to review the film and obviously they liked what they saw."

Dallas Cowboys thrilled to land UConn's Byron Jones

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wasn't about to reveal where former UConn defensive back Byron Jones stood on the team's draft board but in a press conference shortly after the Cowboys selected Jones with the 27th overall pick, Jones did confirm that he was among the top 15/16 players on their board.

The Cowboys aren't shy about trading up or down but Jones said there wasn't too much of an opportunity to do so in Thursday's first round so they waited. Their gleeful reaction was caught as ESPN and NFL Network after they selected Jones.

"We probably knew as much about him as anybody in the draft," Jerry Jones said. "(Former UConn coach  Paul) Pasqualoni (a former defensive coordinator with the Cowboys) coached him, we had a scout who knew his position coaches and spent a lot of time with him. We felt really good about our evaluation of Byron. He did play two years at safety as well as what he can do at corner so that was pretty prominent in our decision to take him."

Jerry Jones said finding a player who can play both cornerback and free safety was at the top of the Cowboys' wish list going into the draft. It is something his son Stephen, the team's director of player personnel, agreed with.

"We are trying to get length in the secondary so obviously he fits that and he is a really good football player, a really good person on and off the field, great character and I think we made a good, solid pick here," Stephen Jones said.

Jones made national news when he broke the broad jump record at the NFL Scouting Combine with a leap of 12-3 in addition to finishing with the best time in the 60-yard shuttle and just missing the top mark in the vertical jump. But Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said it was Jones' tape over the last four years that was the reason they selected him.

"He had an impressive combine workout but let's go back to his experience as a player," Garrett said. "Two year starter at safety, two year starter at corner, this is not a workout warrior that we drafted. We drafted a football player that we think plays the right way and has the opportunity to develop into a good player at a couple of different spots for us.

"He has the physical traits to go play safety even though he has played corner the last couple of years but what gives us a lot of confidence is you see him play free safety for two years as a starter. They had two really good corners when he was a young player coming to school there so they wanted to get him out on the field. You see that tape and you like what you see on that tape as a young player so I think it is a realistic projection for him to play corner in this league and also to play free safety.

"We do anticipate him starting out as a cornerback and depending on how the health of the secondary is, the opportunity to move him to safety is realistic."

The Cowboys' defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson also couldn't speak highly enough about Jones' talent and character in an interview also streamed on the team's official site.

"I remember meeting him at the combine for the first time and I was impressed with how he carried himself," Henderson said. "He was well dressed, he is a big guy, he will look you in the eye, shake your hand, he had a firm handshake and you thought 'this is a great kid.' When we went up to Connecticut and were able to work him out, the people there talked about his work ethic. What he did at the combine, he worked to do that, it is not like he was just a freak and he could jump out of the gym. He worked and improved himself in every area. He is a gym rat and everybody there had good things to say about him as a football player, as a person, as a worker and I think he fits with what we are trying to do here.

"We spend most of our games in nickel personnel and we are three corners on the field for the first snap of the game and we play like that for most of the game so the more cover guys that we have the better off we are. We went into a game with four corners and we got a corner hurt, now we only have three and we are out of our dime package. You are hoping that nobody else gets hurt having guys who can play both positions is going to help us moving forward to be able to function in the game better and keep our packages alive if we have a guy go down. Guys like this were the guys we were really focused on in this draft."