Sunday, January 31, 2016

Valley Regional OL/DL Giaconia headed to UConn as preferred walk-on

According to my colleague Mike Pucci, Valley Regional/Old Lyme lineman Jack Giaconia will attend UConn as a preferred walk-on.

Giaconia had 75 tackles and two sacks as a senior. He had 190 tackles during his career.

He will be the second member of the 2014 Valley Regional/Old Lyme team which went 13-0 and won the CIAC Class S Large Division title to head to UConn as a preferred walk-on as Chris Jean-Pierre is a safety at UConn who redshirted during the 2015 season.

Speaking of in-state recruits heading to UConn, here is the story I wrote on the five Connecticut natives set to sign with the Huskies on Wednesday

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Former UConn AD Manuel holds court with media one last time

I first started covering UConn athletics on a regular basis 18 years ago and not only would I say that Warde Manuel was the most approachable athletic director at UConn but I don't even know who would be in second place.

Manuel flew back to Connecticut today after meeting the media on Friday as he was introduced as the AD at Michigan, his alma mater. Before the game UConn women's basketball SID asked the media who would want to interview Manuel at halftime and I figured it was a rhetorical question.

Manuel addressed plenty of topics including his legacy at UConn and the prospects of the Huskies getting into the Power Five conference.

"I have been through this before, I am winding down here and winding up at a new place but I love the fact that I get to spend time and say goodbye in the sense that I won't be here to the staff and to my friends. I am very appreciative that I have time to do that. I will be back and forth to Ann Arbor for some things but for the most part until after the women's conference championship, I will be around.

"When you approach any job you hope you leave it better than you found it," Manuel said. "I will leave it to others to talk about my legacy here. I am proud of our academic success ... We got through the transition of the breakup of the Big East and the transition to the American as well or better than people expected.

"I leave sad because of the relationships and the people I won't see on a consistent basis but I leave happy knowing that the people here know how to win, know how to be extremely successful and the future is very bright for UConn."

UConn had tremendous on-court and on-field success during Manuel's time at UConn but many will view his legacy as incomplete because the Huskies were not able to secure a bid from a Power 5 conference under his watch. When he was introduced as Michigan's AD, he said he thinks of UConn as a Power 5 program.

"It is not like I have any magic statement," Manuels said. "It is what I believe. I believe our success already puts us in the level of the top tier of universities in this country so it is a statement that I will continue to believe but I don't know how close we are. I know in terms of success, we are (a Power Five program).

"Because we are not in the Power 5 that we are somehow second-class citizens, I never approached this job that way, I don't talk much about it and people criticize me for not talking a lot about it but I just don't think you talk and get into something. You don't talk about it and all of a sudden an application appears, you have to work at it, you have to have the success we've had and you have to continue to show people who we are. Guess what if you don't let us in, we are still going to beat you and if you let us in, we are still going to beat you. That is the attitude, the way I approach it and the way I drive the staff, coaches, our student-athletes to be the best no matter where you are. I think if UConn highly, I always will and it has been a great place for me and my family."

There is a prevailing notion that having Manuel at Michigan could help UConn if the Big Ten opts to add more teams. Manuel made it clear that his main focus will be on doing what is best for the Wolverines but he will certainly have positive things to say about UConn.

"At the appropriate point if there is a point in the conversation about it, certainly I will talk very highly about UConn because I try not to mince words, sometimes I get all jumbled up and get caught off guard but I don't say things I don't believe and I believe in this place," Manuel said. "I believe in this place as much as I did when I took the job. The success we have had speaks for itself. The prestige of this university speaks for itself. The people here, the fan base, the things that we have, if you look at media households in close proximity (to major markets), you look at our dominance in the New York market when we go down there to play, the fans that we have, there are so many positives about UConn and for me it is not hard to say it if it comes up in conversation."

Manuel was quick to emphasize that all the talk of securing a Power 5 invite should not take away from their time in the American Athletic Conference.

"The American Conference has been a great conference," Manuel said. "I am proud we are in the conference and representing the American, I don't want anything to take away for it or take away from the strength of these colleges that have come together to play in the American, the great colleagues I have in this conference are working hard."


Friday, January 29, 2016

Committee formed to aid in search for UConn's new AD

With Warde Manuel being named the new director of athletics at Michigan today, UConn president Susan Herbst announced the names of those who will serve on the search committee to find Manuel's replacement including interim AD Rachel Rubin

Andrew Bessette (’75) UConn Board of Trustees 
Scott Brown, UConn Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology, NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative
Andrea Dennis-LaVigne (’03), UConn Board of Trustees (Committee Chair) 
Doug Elliot (’82), President of The Hartford
Thomas Ritter (Law ’77) UConn Board of Trustees
Rachel Rubin (’77), Chief of Staff to the President & Executive Secretary to the Board of Trustees
Nancy Stevens, Head Coach, UConn Field Hockey

Here's a statement from Herbst on Manuel's departure

"The only downside to hiring fine leaders for key positions at UConn is that their experience and skills are sought after by other institutions across the nation, who also want to hire strong leaders.

When Warde Manuel, our Athletic Director since 2012, told me he was interested in the AD position at the University of Michigan, I was not at all surprised; Michigan is his alma mater where he spent years of his life as a student-athlete, playing football for Bo Schembechler, participating in track and field, and earning his degrees, later becoming assistant and associate AD there.  

I was also not surprised when he was recently named to the position; Warde is a terrific AD and any university would be lucky to have him.

While we are sorry to lose him at UConn, we also understand how much the position at Michigan means to him and we wish him all the best.

Warde is expected to begin at Michigan in March. Rachel Rubin, who began her career at UConn as an Associate Athletic Director and is currently Chief of Staff in my office, will serve as interim AD.

We will begin a national search for a permanent successor immediately.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Former state stars offer advice to newest wave of recruits

A week today the next wave of college football stars will make it official by signing on the dotted line.

However, making the move from commit to signee is merely the start of things for those who will be a part of incoming freshman classes whether it is at UConn or another Football Bowl Subdivision program.

Recently both former Notre Dame of West Haven High School and University of Wisconsin star Tarek Saleh as well as St. Joseph High standout and Temple University All-American Tyler Matakevich were in New Haven for the Walter Camp Foundation's Breakfast of Champions. With so many future college football players, including four headed to UConn, in the audience I asked both Saleh and Matakevich what advice they would give to those making the transition from high school to college.

"I would say that recipe for success is still what it is," Saleh said. "In Connecticut, you have great football. Sometimes we take a back seat because we are a smaller state but we have good football and we have great schools. The recipe for success is the hard work, the sacrifice, working in the gym every day, going out and being a team player, be a leader and make good choices. That doesn't change when you get to the next level, you have to do the same thing. All the way through the NFL if you ever have a chance to do that - obviously it is very difficult - but no matter what you do in life, what you have done at the high school level, the work ethic and the time that you put it you have to carry that over and you will successful in whatever you do."

When Saleh was coming out of high school UConn was still playing at the I-AA level so schools like Wisconsin, Syracuse and Boston College would pluck the best players out of Connecticut. While that can still happen on occasion, Tyler Coyle, Keyion Dixon and Jasen Rose will be signing their national letters of intent with UConn next week while Teddy Allmendinger will head to Storrs as a preferred walk-on.

"I think there is a lot of excitement," Saleh said. "I went to a UConn game a couple of years ago and it was a pretty good atmosphere. It is a good opportunity, they are at a point now where they are ready to make that next step so I think they have done some nice things. I am a Badger so I wouldn't change anything. I would encourage all the kids to take a good look at UConn but at the end of the day, Wisconsin is a great place to go play s there are a lot of options out there so may be the best school win."

The fact that UConn passed on offering Matakevich a scholarship both as he was coming out of high school and after a post-graduate year at Milford Academy is well documented. I would think that the aforementioned quartet of future Huskies still might identify more with Matakevich, who just wrapped up his brilliant career at Temple since they had opportunities to see him pile up tackles over the last four seasons.

Matakevich's advice is rather similar to what Saleh has to say.

"Hard work and determination is everything," Matakevich said. "You can get caught up in the whole recruiting process. What I have learned is whatever happens happens. You have to make the best out of whatever opportunity to get and just go from there."

Monday, January 25, 2016

Lonsdorf decommits from UConn

This time of the year is pretty much the storm before the calm with schools making last minute pushes to add talent to their recruiting class heading into national signing day.

UConn was able to flip Noel Brouse, previously committed to Syracuse and Villanova, as he was one of the three players to commit to UConn yesterday. Now the Huskies are dealing with the other side of the ledger as offensive lineman Mike Lonsdorf announced on social media that he was reopening his recruiting and is no longer committed to UConn. I have seen a report that he is planning a visit to Rutgers.

Media preview

UConn currently has 16 commitments in the Class of 2016.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Former UConn DB McClain headed to Super Bowl

It would be an understatement of incredible proportions to say it's been an interesting season for former UConn defensive back Robert McClain.

McClain was signed by the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots after three productive seasons with the Atlanta Falcons but he was among the last players to be cut. After getting a couple of tryouts, he was signed by the then undefeated Carolina Panthers. Now he is headed to the Super Bowl after Carolina's 49-15 win over Arizona in the NFC title game.

McClain had six tackles and two pass breakups (one which nearly resulted in an interception) giving him 14 tackles and three PBUs in two playoff games.

I caught up with McClain this summer when he volunteered at the football camp run by former UConn receiver Marcus Easley and he talked a bit about the move from Atlanta to New England.

"There are changes all over the NFL, it happens every year but the only thing I can control is what I can do," McClain said. "I had a good career in Atlanta. It is part of the business, guys go to different teams and they move around a lot."

I asked him about the advice he would give to players like Byron Jones and other UConn defensive backs looking to make it onto an NFL roster.

"It is work ethic, if you have the right work ethic and can take coaching especially at the DB position," McClain said. "You are going to get beat some times against great receivers but if you work hard at your craft, being smart, working hard and contribute any way you can

"Everybody wants to see their college with a lot of guys. 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."


Three added to UConn's recruiting class

It was a pretty important weekend for the UConn football program as the Huskies hosting the majority of its 2016 commits and added three more to the class bringing the number of recruits to 17.

Noel Brouse's recruitment has been rather interesting as he originally committed to Syracuse but with the coaching upheaval there, he decommitted. Earlier this month he committed to Villanova before flipping on his visit to UConn this weekend. Brouse was a two-way starting lineman for Parkland High out of Allentown, Pa. helping Parkland reach the PIAA Class AAAA championship game before losing 21-18 to Central Catholic. In the last four seasons Parkland had a 48-10 record with three other trips to the AAAA quarterfinals.

I'm Committed to UCONN! #HuskyNation

Brett Graham played linebacker, tight end (catching 34 passes as a senior and 75 over the last two seasons) and punter at State College High. UConn's starting punter Justin Wain will be a senior during the 2016 season so Graham will have a chance to learn for a year, work with UConn coach Bob Diaco and make a run at being the starting punter after Wain's graduation.

Beyond blessed to accept a scholarship offer from UCONN, and excited to be a part of the Husky family. #GoHuskies

Nick Zecchino out of Cedar Grove High School figures to be the long snapper at UConn following the graduation of Dom Manco although walk-on James Bedell could have something to say about that. Zecchino passed for 1,379 yards with 16 touchdowns and seven interceptions, ran for another four touchdowns while adding 52 tackles and two interceptions.

If my math is correct, UConn should be right at the maximum of 85 scholarships for the upcoming season.

While much of the attention understandably will be focused on the three new additions to the recruiting class, it shouldn't be overlooked how well the Huskies seem to be doing to holding onto the previously committed players. Coaches have been checking in on some of the UConn pledges but as of right now, there have been no lost commitments.

Staying on the subject of recruiting, commits Jasen Rose, Tyler Coyle and Keyion Dixon were all selected to the first team on the New Haven Register's 84th annual All-State team. Rose made it on the offense while Coyle and Dixon were selected on defense.

Finally, in the for what it is worth department, UConn previously announced that tight ends coach Don Patterson was retiring. I noticed on the UConn jobs board that the posting is for a receivers coach. I have been able to confirm that receivers coach David Corley will remain on the staff and once the hiring of Patterson's replacement is announced, UConn will announce any other changes and whether it will be a straight move from coaching receivers to tight ends for Corley. By the way, the posting for the job will close tomorrow.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Former UConn QB Boyle headed to Eastern Kentucky

Tim Boyle, who started eight games at quarterback over the last three seasons, made it official by posting on his Twitter page that he has committed to Eastern Kentucky.

Boyle said "I am officially an EKU Colonel! I am excited to be a part of a tradition rich program under a great head coach in Coach Elder."

Boyle also thanked UConn fans and said "UConn will always have a special place in my heart."

Boyle threw for 1,237 yards in three seasons at UConn including a career high 310 against Cincinnati in 2013 in his second career start. He appeared in three of the most impressive wins at UConn in recent memory as he came in late and completed his only passing attempt in a 45-10 win over Memphis in 2013, had a 6-yard completion in a 37-29 upset of Central Florida in 2014 and when Bryant Shirreffs was knocked out of the game with a concussion, Boyle was 12 for 22 for 110 yards and most importantly no interceptions as the Huskies stunned previously undefeated Houston 20-17 to become bowl eligible.

Boyle served as the No. 2 quarterback as well as the holder during the regular season but Garrett Anderson was seeing second-team work at quarterback during UConn's practices leading into the St. Petersburg Bowl.

UConn returns Shirreffs and Anderson. Tyler Davis will be a redshirt freshman and Southington High's Jasen Rose is expected to sign with the Huskies next month.

Eastern Kentucky returns its starting quarterback Bennie Coney, who ironically also played in that 2013 UConn/Cincinnati game before he transferred to Eastern Kentucky. Coney threw for 2,471 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Boyle never redshirted so he could use his redshirt in the upcoming season and be the Colonels' starting quarterback during the 2017 season or he could play immediately since Eastern Kentucky plays at the Football Championship Subdivision level.

Eastern Kentucky is coming off a 6-5 season and took Kentucky into overtime and also lost to North Carolina State. The Colonels have five winning seasons and one with a 6-6 record over the last six years.

According to Boyle's high school coach Sean Marinan of Xavier High School, former UConn quarterbacks coach Shane Day recommended Eastern Kentucky as a potential landing spot when Boyle reached out to some of his former coaches as UConn when he decided to transfer.

Boyle is the ninth player in UConn's recruiting class of 2013 to leave the program including the third since the end of the season as receivers Dhameer Bradley and Thomas Lucas transferred to Sacred Heart and Duquesne respectively.

Boyle departure and Dom Manco's graduation means that the Huskies will need to find a new long snapper and holder. The best thing to say about the job Manco and Boyle did last season is that they were barely noticed as the Huskies were 16 for 19 on field goals.

UConn well represented in Tropic Bowl

It is college all-star showcase season.

While no UConn players are in the major games like the Senior Bowl, NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and East-West Shrine Game, they did get to take part in lesser known events.

As I previously mentioned, safety Andrew Adams was in Texas for the recently-completed College Gridiron Showcase. That event is run a little differently, there is not an actual all-star game but practices, scrimmages, interviews with scouts, workouts so it is set up more like a combine. I've yet to see any reports of how Adams looked but if they post a video of the scrimmages as they did a year ago, I will take a look.

I did notice last night that defensive lineman Kenton Adeyemi, linebacker Marquise Vann and offensive lineman Tyler Samra were all on the American team roster for the Tropic Bowl played yesterday in Miami. I just received an email with final stats and Vann finished with 3 1/2 tackles and they did pass on this quote

"Tyler Samra played well And showed a toughness and great feet in front of NFL Scouts." Michael Quartey Esq.Tropic Bowl Founder

The American team won 38-14.

I also saw a tweet saying that Adeyemi had a strong showing.

White Team Kenton Adeyemi (UConn) showed versatility by playing DE and DT on Sunday. Also was very disruptive in the backfield.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

UConn commits excited for the future

Just in case UConn commits Tyler Coyle, Keyion Dixon and Jasen Rose as well as preferred walk-on Teddy Allmendinger needed any extra motivation as they prepare for the next stage of their football careers, a quick look around the ballroom inside the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale certainly could do the trick.

Former Hamden High star Rich Diana and former Notre Dame of West Haven great Tarek Saleh, who were among those in attendance at the Walter Camp Foundation's Breakfast of Champions, made their way into the NFL while former St. Joseph High star Tyler Matakevich has a chance to hear his name called in the 2016 NFL draft.

While none of them played at UConn, it had to be comforting to see players from Connecticut could play at the highest level imaginable.

The aforementioned quartet were on hand to be honored as part of the Walter Camp All-Connecticut team which is selected from a panel of nine Connecticut high school coaches.

"It is such a great honor to be around such great players who represent the sport really well," said Allmendinger, an all-state linebacker from Avon High who projects to be a fullback/h-back at UConn.

Four of the 14 commits (not counting the preferred walk-ons) hail from Connecticut counting Suffield Academy star Tahj Herring. Many of the recruits have been on campus at the same time or connected during the recent all-state football photo shoot.

"We have a group message with all the commits to UConn so it is good, it will be good to see them and talk to them a little more," said Rose, who threw for 2,636 yards with 39 touchdowns and six interceptions as a senior at Southington High. "There is just one big group message and we just talk throughout the day. We are all taking our official visits next weekend so we talk about that. We talk about next year and getting ready for it and how excited we are."

Coyle is the most recent known commitment as he became a part of the UConn recruiting class on Dec. 21 which came exactly a month after the Windsor High receiver/defensive back was in attendance when the Huskies stunned previously undefeated Houston.

"I went to the Houston game and that says it all," said Coyle, who projects as a safety for UConn. "I see the program as up and coming and I definitely want to be a part of that. It was a great experience. It was exciting experience, the crowd was just live and I love being part of it."

Dixon was the second player to commit to UConn and living not far from Rentschler Field, he is certainly thrilled to play where so many people who helped him along the way can came and see him play.

"Family and friends are right there, they can never not have a chance to come to UConn," said Dixon, who played quarterback as a senior at Glastonbury High but is expected to be a receiver at UConn. "All the kids you knew growing up playing football against, when you get that opportunity to come home, it is a great experience and to be a hometown boy trying to make it ,,,

"They have a lot of receivers who can make plays and I am just looking forward to getting along with those guys, learning from some of the older guys. I want to make plays myself and want to help the team out."

Allmendinger drew some scholarship offers but when UConn came calling with the chance to be a preferred walk-on, it was an offer too good to pass up.

"I was playing really well during my senior season," Allmendinger said. "After each game I was sending my film out and they asked if I want to play fullback for them. I looked around but my brother goes there, it is a great opportunity from an educational standpoint and the football is on the rise. I like the coach, it was a great fit for me.

"They say that being a preferred walk-on is the same thing as being on scholarship, you just pay for first year because they are bringing you in to earn a scholarship. Of course I wanted to validate that so I asked a player who actually was a preferred walk-on who earned a scholarship and he validated all of that so that was a relief knowing that was truthful. That kind of got my excitement level much higher knowing that my dream of playing high-level Division I football is finally coming true and I am going to make the most of it."

The UConn coaches began to show more interest in the middle of November and a month later he let UConn coach Bob Diaco know that he was planning to be a Husky.

"He said that would be great and that was the decision there," Allmendinger said. "I am determined to go and earn a scholarship. I know my work ethic, I know my drive so if I go and work, I should be OK.

"What intrigued me as well is they don't actually have a true fullback on their team and they even told me that they couldn't run specific plays because they don't have a fullback and they said 'you look like you could be a great fit for that position.' That intrigues me and gives me a sense that I am going to get looked at. I am not saying that I am going to start because nothing is earned until it is earned but maybe I have a chance to get looked at a little earlier than maybe somebody else. I am not sure how true that is but if I do get an opportunity, I will be sure to not waste it."

Speaking of walk-ons born and raised in Connecticut making an impression at UConn, I spoke to Xavier High coach Sean Marinan at the event about how things have worked out for his son Sean, a key special teams contributor who saw plenty of snaps as a reserve defensive lineman this season.

"He had a lot of fun," Marinan said. "The attitude of the kids was a lot more upbeat. I think the bowl experience was tremendous and they really enjoyed it. I wish the outcome of the game was a little better."

Marinan is also extremely proud of what his son has done academically including attaining a 4.0 grade-point average in at least one semester there.

"It is tremendous for a kid to have a 4.0 and play athletics at a Division I school," Marinan said. "It is just a tribute to the kid himself. He developed a tremendous work ethic, he is very driven and wants to succeed. You preach to your players as a coach that no matter what you do, try to be the best. When you get a kid who does that and it pays off for him, it feels good."

Diaco has taken to identifying top in-state players who might not get a scholarship offer and give them the chance to join the squad as a walk-on. This past year Naugatuck's Bryan Coney was actually gets practice reps ahead of receivers on scholarship and there are other similar success stories.

"You hear about kids all the time who started as walk-ons so it is a good opportunity for kids," Marinan said. "I think it has been said for years that UConn needs to keep more Connecticut kids and I've even said that you need to take a chance on some of these kids who might be marginal because they turn out to be pretty good football players but they are somewhere else."

Quarterback Tim Boyle to transfer from UConn

Pretty much every offseason since Tim Boyle has been at UConn there have been rumors about the former Xavier High School star transferring.

Well, this time it is more than just a rumor. At the Walter Camp Foundation's Breakfast of Champions event Xavier football coach Sean Marinan confirmed that Boyle was given his release from the program a couple weeks ago and he is set to make a visit to Eastern Kentucky.

"Every kid wants to play and he wants to play pretty bad," Marinan said. "He has a lot of ability so maybe he should have made this move a year or two ago but I hope it works out for him.

"He thought he was going to compete, they were having him compete and it didn't work out one way or the other. After the Temple game they moved him down the depth chart (Garrett Anderson served as UConn's second-string quarterback during the practices in Clearwater, Fla. heading into the St. Petersburg Bowl) so the writing was on the wall. He is a competitor and he wants to play."

Marinan said that UConn coach Bob Diaco has been very helpful during this process. Marinan has been contacting coaches on Boyle's behalf and Boyle reached out to some of his former coaches at UConn. Shane Day, recently hired as the tight ends coach of the Miami Dolphins, had a connection to the staff at Eastern Kentucky leading to Boyle taking a visit there.

"He has one year of eligibility and fortunately he still has the redshirt year so hopefully that will work out," Marinan said. "You have to find a school to pay two (years) to get one. I've talked to a number of schools and they are not willing to do that. He'll keep pulling along and see if something works out for him.

"He contacted some of the former UConn coaches, I think it was Coach Day now with the Dolphins. He made a phone call, knew of somebody so they were trying recruit Tim out of high school so he is going down for an official this weekend."

Boyle was 31 for 60 for 281 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions during the recently-completed season. He also served as the holder on extra points and field goals.

In other news from today's event, Avon all-state linebacker Teddy Allmendinger  confirmed that he has accepted a spot as a preferred walk-on at UConn as a fullback/h-back. I caught up with him at today's event as well as UConn commits Tyler Coyle, Keyion Dixon and Jasen Rose and I will have more on their thoughts as we move closer to national signing day.

Finally, former St. Joseph High and Temple linebacker Tyler Matakevich said that he not only will be taking part in the Senior Bowl but also has accepted an invitation to the NFL scouting combine.

Friday, January 15, 2016

UConn's Adeyemi training at IMG Academy

In preparation for the upcoming NFL draft, former UConn defensive end Kenton Adeyemi is training at the IMG Academy.

Adeyemi had 28 tackles, two sacks and 3 1/2 tackles for a loss as a senior helping UConn finish 15th nationally in scoring defense and 33rd in total defense.

Adeyemi had 59 tackles over the last two seasons.

Friday, January 08, 2016

UConn assistant coach Patterson is retiring

Don Patterson, who coached the quarterbacks at UConn during the 2014 season and the tight end during the recently-completed campaign, is retiring.

The tight end position is a rather important one in the UConn offense with the Huskies often playing with two tight ends. There is no lack of talent for Patterson's replacement to work with led by returning starters Alec Bloom and Tommy Myers, transfer Billy Williams (the squad's look team player of the year), freshmen Chris Lee, Dallas Parker, Zordan Holman and Ian Campbell

Here is the release from UConn

University of Connecticut assistant head football coach Don Patterson has announced his retirement after a long and tremendously successful career in the game.
Patterson, a member of the UConn staff for the past two seasons, coached the tight ends and quarterbacks during his Husky career and helped lead the 2015 team to an appearance in the St. Petersburg Bowl.
“All good things must come to an end. After 37 seasons and 425 games of Division I college football, I have decided that this chapter of my life will draw to a close,” said Patterson. “I want to thank the many players, coaches and school administrators that have enriched my life in so many ways. I also want to thank the fans for making college football the greatest of all games.”
“It has been my privilege to represent the University of Connecticut these past two years, and I leave Storrs with the satisfaction of knowing that UConn football is now in a much better place than when we first arrived. The players and coaches at UConn will always have a special place in our hearts, and we will remain loyal Husky fans for the rest of our days.”
Patterson was the head coach at Western Illinois from 1999-2009 and had a 62-45 career record in 11 seasons. He led the Leathernecks to three NCAA playoff berths, a pair of Gateway Football Conference titles and a No. 1 national ranking in 2003.
Patterson came to Western Illinois after a 20-year run on the Iowa staff with legendary coach Hayden Fry from 1979-98. During his tenure at Iowa, the Hawkeyes appeared in 14 bowl games, including three Rose Bowls. The 1985 Iowa team was ranked No. 1 in the nation for five weeks, en route to a school-record 10 wins.
Patterson was instrumental in Iowa's success, making the Hawkeyes one of only three Big Ten teams to play in 14 bowl games during his tenure. Iowa appeared in the Rose Bowl after the 1981, 1985 and 1990 seasons, and made eight consecutive bowl appearances from 1981-88. The success of the Hawkeyes was immediate upon Patterson's arrival with Fry, evidenced by a Rose Bowl berth in their third season (1981), which was Iowa's first Rose Bowl appearance since 1958.
Prior to joining the UConn staff, he served as the quarterbacks coach and recruiting coordinator at Buffalo from 2010-13. Patterson helped lead Buffalo to an appearance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl in 2013.
Patterson is a 1973 Army graduate and served on the cadet honor committee and was named to the highest-ranking cadet staff while at the Academy.

Monday, January 04, 2016

UConn's Adams to play in College Gridiron Showcase

It's been pretty quiet on the UConn seniors playing in college all-star game front but can report that safety Andrew Adams will be playing in the College Gridiron Showcase.

The four-day event runs from Jan. 10-13 in Bennington Field in Bedford, Texas with practices, scrimmages, 1 on 1 drills and interviews with scouts.

Adams led the Huskies with 60 solo tackles, 103 total tackles, was tied for second on the team with three interceptions and was the leader of a secondary which helped the Huskies finish 21st nationally in pass defense. UConn also finished tied for 11th among FBS teams with 18 interceptions and tied for 15th in turnover margin.

Five UConn products could play in NFL playoffs

Robert McClain, seen returning an interception against Tampa Bay,
 is one of five former UConn players on active rosters of playoff teams
Five former UConn players could see playing time in the playoffs.

Leading the way is Robert McClain, who was signed late in the season by a Carolina Panthers team which finished with the best record during the regular season.

McClain was in training camp with the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and after being released before the start of the regular season, he had a couple of tryouts before the Carolina Panthers signed him.

The Kansas City/Houston wildcard game features three former Huskies as fullback Anthony Sherman and safety Tyvon Branch play for the Chiefs and tight end Ryan Griffin. Also, Jordan Todman is one of the few healthy running backs remaining for the playoff-bound Pittsburgh Steelers.

Shamar Stephen is on the roster for the Minnesota Vikings but has been on injured reserve since October while B.J. McBryde (Green Bay), Shakim Phillips (Pittsburgh) and Deshon Foxx (Seattle) are on the practice squads of playoff teams.

Here is the breakdown of how former UConn players fared on Sunday and during the regular season

Will Beatty, OT New York Giants: Spent season on either physically unable to perform or injured reserve list.
Tyvon Branch, S Kansas City: Had four tackles including sack in 23-17 win over Oakland. Finished regular season with 43 tackles (including 500th of career) and an interception.
Donald Brown, RB San Diego: Ran for 81 yards and had two catches for 10 yards in 27-20 loss to Denver. Finished season with 229 yards on 59 carries and had eight catchers for 88 yards.
Darius Butler, CB Indianapolis: Had seven tackles in 30-24 win over Tennessee. Had 50 tackles and his 12th career interception.
Geremy Davis, WR New York Giants: Was inactive for 35-30 loss to Philadelphia. Finished rookie season with two catches for 31 yards.
Marcus Easley, WR Buffalo: Season ended with serious knee injury suffered in Dec. 27 win over Dallas. Had a career high 58-yard catch in loss to Jacksonville on Oct. 25.
Dwayne Gratz, CB Jacksonville: Had two tackles in 30-6 loss to Houston. Finished with 27 tackles in 12 games.
Ryan Griffin, TE Houston: Had three catches for 27 yards in 30-6 win over Jacksonville. His 20 catches, 251 yards and two touchdown catches are all career highs. It was the fourth game of  the season with at least three receptions matching the total from his first two NFL seasons.
Byron Jones, DB Dallas: Had six tackles in 34-23 loss to Washington. Finished rookie season with five straight games with at least five tackles and 66 tackles, fourth most among rookie defensive backs.
Danny Lansanah, LB Tampa Bay: Had one tackle in 38-10 loss to Carolina. Had 55 tackles and a sack while starting 11 games.
Robert McClain, CB Carolina: Had seven tackles, an interception and added five yards on two punt returns in 38-10 win over Tampa Bay.
Sio Moore, LB Indianapolis: Was inactive in 30-24 win over Tennessee. Finished with 13 tackles in 12 games.
Dan Orlovsky, QB Detroit: Did not play in 24-20 win over Chicago. Threw for 201 yards in two games giving him 3,132 passing yards in 23 career games.
Kendall Reyes, DT San Diego: Had two tackles in 27-20 loss to Denver. Finished with 32 tackles, two sacks and first career interception.
Anthony Sherman, FB Kansas City: Had two catches for 21 yards in 23-17 win over Oakland. Had four receptions, one rushing attempt and six tackles in his third season with the Chiefs.
Shamar Stephen, DL Minnesota: Limited to five games and had three tackles and one fumble recovery in injury-shortened second NFL season.
Jordan Todman, RB Pittsburgh: Had four carries for 22 yards as he is one of 11 players to have at least one carry for the Steelers. Also had a 22-yard kickoff return.
Nick Williams, WR Atlanta: Had career highs with 17 catches and 159 receiving yards.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB Tennessee: Was inactive in 30-24 loss to Indianapolis. Had 20 tackles in 10 games.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Another player gone from UConn's 2013 recruiting class

Attrition is a part every college football program but with receiver Thomas Lucas posting a tweet earlier today that he would not be returning to the UConn football team, he is the ninth scholarship player who signed with the Huskies in 2013 to move on.

The number includes Jordan Fuchs and Chasz Wright, who headed to Milford Academy and were expected to be a part of the program before they changed their minds following the firing of Paul Pasqualoni so it's not completely fair to include them among the defections since they never actually made it to UConn.

Michael Boland, Sha'ki Holines, Cory Jasudowich, Richard Lagow, Lucas, Kivon Taylor and Quinn Thompson would have been seniors or redshirt juniors on the 2016 UConn team had they stuck around. Taking it a step further, there were 44 players on the 2013 UConn roster listed as either true or redshirt freshmen and as of right now and 17 are not expected to be with the team during the upcoming season. It should be noted that some of those departures include walk-ons and there is always a lot of coming and going among the non-scholarship players it also doesn't include players like Lagow and Jasudowich who left before the first game of the 2013 season.

When UConn headed to preseason camp, the feeling was that Noel Thomas, Dhameer Bradley, Brian Lemelle and Thomas Lucas would be among the top options as receiver. Thomas had a team-high 54 catches but the other three combined for a total of nine catches. Thomas had an impressive season but Bradley will be suiting up at Sacred Heart and now Lucas is on the way out as well. Lucas was in a difficult situation as true freshmen Tyraiq Beals, Hergy Mayala and Aaron McLean had moved by him on the pecking order. The UConn coaches were talking up fellow freshmen Frank Battle and Bryan Coney while Lemelle, who had an injury-plagued junior season, could also be in the mix during the 2016 season.

It is going to be interesting to see what the roster looks like when the 2016 season gets going although it should be noted that there is plenty of quality remaining among the 2013 freshmen including potential 2016 starters Foley Fatukasi, Tommy Hopkins, Junior Joseph, Andreas Knappe, Richard Levy, Obi Melifonwu, Mikal Myers, Tommy Myers, Cole Ormsby, Cam Stapleton, Thomas, Brendan Vechery, Justin Wain, Matt Walsh and Jhavon Williams.