Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Updated UConn roster features position changes and departures

UConn's spring roster has been posted and there are some surprising omissions led by former starting running back and kickoff returner Josh Marriner. I was able to confirm that Marriner is still enrolled at UConn but it no longer a part of the football program. Also, offensive lineman Kyle Bockeloh and safety Ellis Marder are on pace to graduate at the end of the semester and will move forward.

Marriner's loss is the most surprising and it leaves UConn with just two experienced scholarship running backs in Arkeel Newsome and Ron Johnson. It opens up some opportunities immediately for incoming freshmen Nate Hopkins and Ja'kevious Vickers to see the field as true freshmen. Fullback Jazz Clax went through Senior Day festivities so I did not expect to see him on the roster and he will also not be a part of the 2016 team. UConn sort of had an all hands on deck approach to the fullback/h-back positions especially after the season-ending injury suffered by Tommy Myers. This season I would expect more continuity at that position as the Huskies have been addressing that position in the last two recruiting classes.

UConn was already going to be a little thin in experience at the safety position with the graduation of team captain Andrew Adams as well as his top backup Junior Lee. Jordan Floyd left the program before the Huskies headed to the St. Petersburg Bowl so with Marder moving on, starting free safety Obi Melifonwu and reserve Anthony Watkins are the only returning players who were in the playing rotation at safety. Marshe' Terry is a player the coaching staff is very high on while walk-on and former Valley Regional star Chris Jean-Pierre also looked pretty good when we were able to see the third team offense and defense square off at one of the pre-bowl practices. With an abundance of options at cornerback, the UConn coaches moved special teams ace Brice McAllister and redshirt freshman Aaron Garland to safety. It will be interesting to see who ends up starting alongside of Melifonwu during the upcoming season.

Garland is one of three memebrs of last year's freshman class to change positions. Former h-back Dallas Parker is now listed as a defensive lineman while Ian Campbell came to UConn as a tight end but it now listed as an offensive lineman. This also makes sense because there are so many options at the tight end and h-back positions moving forward.

 Hergy Mayala (from 88 to 1), Aaron McLean (from 85 to 8), Chris Britton (from 45 to 33), Campbell (from 83 to 78) and Connor Freeborn (from 51 to 88) have changed uniform numbers.

Finally, I thought that incoming freshman Nick Zecchino might have to fight it out with walk-on James Bedell for the long snapper position. However, Bedell is one of the walk-ons who have moved on.

The departures of Bockeloh, Marriner and Marder,  that should solve the issue of UConn being over the 85-player scholarship limit after granting scholarships to Sean Marinan, Will Rishell, Jason Thompson and Nick Vitale. It should be noted that the decisions of Marriner, Bockleloh and Marder were made before the former walk-ons were given scholarships and it was not a case of the UConn staff trying to clear scholarships to give them to the former walk-ons.

UConn will open practice on Mar. 9 with the spring game set for Apr. 16. UConn's pro day will be held on Mar. 8.


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