Thursday, March 10, 2016

Potential new role could be a snap for UConn's Walsh

One of the true constants of the 2015 UConn football season was that brilliant work by long snapper Dom Manco.

Looking back, I don't recall a snap that forced holder Tim Boyle to struggle to get the ball down on extra points or field goals. There were no issues with his snaps on punts either. However, Manco's graduation left a hole to fill. There was a thought that walk-on James Bedell, who was Manco's backup, would be the favorite to assume the role but he has also moved on.

Nick Zecchino was recruited to be a long snapper but he won't be on the practice field until August so I was rather curious how the position was going to be addressed during spring camp.

My answer came late during the first spring practice on Wednesday when linebacker Matt Walsh and tight ends Alec Bloom and Tommy Myers were taken off to the side and worked on long snapping. Myers is still working his way back from injury so we'll see if he is in the mix when he is fully cleared. Bloom was the first guy out there when UConn worked on punting during the practice followed by Walsh.

I asked Walsh, a former Hand High School star, is he had ever been a long snapper.

"Never," Walsh said. "It was the first time I tried it. Obviously we are setting up (for a good season), our standards are higher every year so if I can help long snapping, I will do that too."

Walsh, who came to UConn as a fullback, moved to linebacker last year and it wasn't long before he was pushing team captain Marquise Vann for playing time and a starting spot. Following Vann's graduation, Walsh entered spring camp as a starting linebacker. Walsh and Junior Joseph combined to make 140 tackles last season and they looked right at home working with the starting defense.

:Coming in for the second year and I really understand the defense from a bigger picture instead of memorizing it assignment wise," Walsh said. "Now the next step for me and everybody else on the defense is understanding everything from a higher level and knowing what all the guys are doing around us and trust what our personal job is.

"You develop a chemistry, a trust that you know your brother is going to be next to you when you need them. All the other guys proved it in the game and it kind of shows in practice. All we can do now is fly around and kind of have fun with it."


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