Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Competition at QB among topics coming out of media day

At the 2015 American Athletic Conference media day, UConn football coach Bob Diaco almost casually mentioned that returning team captain Marquise Vann was going to be involved in competition for playing time.

Sure enough, Matt Walsh began to take snaps away from Vann as the season wore on.

Today Diaco revealed that he expects Garrett Anderson to push incumbent Bryant Shirreffs for the starting quarterback spot.

"He is being pushed, there is still competition," Diaco said. "Garrett Anderson was awarded by the strength and conditioning group as the top performer in that whole phase dating back to January. He is not drifting off into the night, he is a high level competitor."

Anderson dropped 12 pounds going from 236 to 224 so he should be a little quicker.

The first practice is on Friday but the media will not be allowed in at that practice. We will get a chance to see the team practice next week and certainly the quarterback battle will be a topic story line.

Another comment worthy of note is Diaco predicting that Obi Melifonwu will be one of the highest-rated safeties in the 2017 NFL draft.

"Two years ago I am sitting here, nobody is really listening, I am talking about Byron Jones (being an elite pro prospect), nobody really paid attention but I tried to give you an honest evaluation," Diaco said. "Obi, and I fully expect him to have the kind of year that he should at safety, Obi is the best safety in America. This is a special, special young man, he will be either 'the' or 'one of the' top players evaluated in the NFL. He is an absolute spectacular safety prospect. I have coached several safeties in the NFL, they are Pro Bowl safeties  and he is absolutely in that conversation and in some case his tangible traits are even higher."

There will be much more on Melifonwu later in the week.

Before asking Diaco about Melifonwu I got his take on the way his players have transformed their bodies adding or losing weight depending on what was appropriate.

"You are talking about the winter system and summer system and at each turn we tried to turn the screw, we never went back the other way, the players just responded and responded," Diaco said. "We are at a point now where all of our skill players, not that you are trying to crack them (mentally) but you really couldn't, they are absolute machines. They did a great job and I am so proud of them. I mean it, this isn't coach speak, I believe we had the best sports performance collection of workers and people in America and I wouldn't trade them for any sports performance team in the country."


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