Monday, May 30, 2016

Former UConn DE Reuben Frank getting his shot in CFL

The list of players from UConn giving the Canadian Football League a shot continues to grow.

Yesterday, former UConn defensive end Reuben Frank was signed by Edmonton. He is one of five former UConn players currently in CFL training camps as Martin Bedard and Jesse Joseph are both with Montreal, Trevardo Williams is in camp with Toronto and former No. 1 overall CFL draft pick Alex Mateas is set to begin his second season with Ottawa. Also, Hamden's Byron Pinkston (who played at Florida International) is trying to make the Calgary roster and former Southern Connecticut State standout Ikponwosa Igbinosun is in camp with Montreal.

Frank is an intriguing prospect. He began his collegiate career as a fullback and caught 12 passes for the Huskies during the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He moved to defensive end as a junior and had 50 tackles, 7 1/2 tackles for loss and 3 sacks as a junior and senior.

At UConn's pro day in 2015, Frank worked with the running backs in the position drills and also worked alongside fellow defensive linemen including B.J. McBryde, now with the NFL's Green Bay Packers. Frank earned an invitation to try out with the Detroit Lions.

Edmonton's first preseason game is set for June 11 against Calgary. The CFL preseason schedule kicks off on June 8 when Montreal plays at Winnipeg.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Former UConn WR Geremy Davis drawing plenty of praise

Former UConn receiver Geremy Davis had a rather uneventful rookie season after the New York Giants took him in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL draft.

I've been seeing multiple reports where Davis has been working with the first-team offense. Some of that could be a result of players being held out of the Organized Team Activities but it gives Davis a chance to show what he can do.

Quarterback Eli Manning gave his thoughts on Davis in an interview posted on the Giants official site.

"Geremy is a bright guy," Manning said. "He knows the offense very well. He studies hard. He’s really in tune with what his assignments are. He’s got great size. He’s one of our bigger receivers. You can move him around and put him in different spots. He’s going to be really keyed into what his assignment is, so that’s always helpful. Hopefully, he can step up and get on a roll and make some plays for us come game time."

Also, Shamar Stephen returned to the field for the Vikings at their OTA sessions and here's a story about him posted on the Vikings' official site.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

UConn signees star in CCC Central track championships

In a few months Tyler Coyle and Keyion Dixon will be teammates with the UConn football team but before they arrive in Storrs they are busy finishing their high school track and field careers in style.
Earlier today they combined to win three events at the CCC Central Regional championships at Simsbury.

Coyle was a part of the winning 4x100 relay squad which ran a blistering time of 42.17 seconds, winning by nearly two seconds. He also won the long jump with a leap of 21-2 while Dixon was the winner in the 300 intermediate hurdles. Dixon's time of 39.45 is not only the fastest among the qualifiers for next week's Class LL championships but according to the CIAC official site, is the fastest in the state this season. Windsor's qualifying time of 41.85 in the 4x100 relay, set during the Glen Loucks Games on May 14, is the state's best this season.

Coyle is one of four runners who have qualifying times under 11 seconds in the 100 meters in next week's CIAC Class MM championships and the 4x100 relay team is currently the top qualifier, is currently the No. 5 seed in the long jump and would be one of the top qualifiers in the 200 if he opts to run in that race.

The duo went head to head in the 100. Coyle finished second with a time of 10.98 with Dixon taking third at 11.21. Weaver's Mark Doyley won the event with a time of 10.91.

The Class LL meet is set for June 1 at Willow Brook Park with the Class MM championships held at the same time at Middletown High School.

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

UConn signee Herring shines at New Englands

UConn incoming freshman Tahj Herring made a spirited run at a pair of New England titles on Saturday.

Herring, a senior at Suffield Academy, finished tied for second in the 100 meters at the New England Prep School Track Association Division II championships hosted by Tabor Academy.

Herring was the No. 2 qualifier in the 100 meters with a qualifying time of 11.18 seconds and topped that with a clocking of 11.14 to finish tied for second in the finals.

Herring finished fourth in the 200 with a time of 23.22 and anchored Suffield Academy's third-place 4x100 relay team as he scored  12 1/2 of the 32 points for eighth-place Suffield.

Herring finished his career with 33 3/4 points in the New Englands.

It remains to be seen what impact UConn's incoming freshman class will have on the football field but if nothing else, the class could have one heck of a 4x100 relay team.

Herring came into Saturdays meet with a season-best clocking of 11.02 seconds, according to the most recent list of qualifiers on the CIAC site Tyler Coyle of Windsor has run as fast as 10.95 at the Middletown Invitational while Glastonbury's Keyion Dixon best listed time is 11.29 at the East Hartford Invitational while Quayvon Skanes twice ran as fast as 11.06 earlier this month leading up to the Chicago Public School meet.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Former Long Beach State AD Cegles hired at UConn

Vic Cegles, the director of athletics at Long Beach State since 2006, has been named Deputy Athletic Director at UConn.

Cegles, who will serve as the sport administrator for the UConn men’s basketball, baseball and golf programs, was named the 2014-15 Athletics Director of the Year in NCAA I-AAA by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.

Among Cegles' hires during his time at Long Beach State is UConn AD David Benedict who worked for Cegles from 2007-10 and also served in the same athletic department at Arizona State from 1996-2002.

"I am elated that Vic Cegles has made the decision to join the UConn family," Benedict said in a statement. "Vic has a diverse background and will bring a vast amount of leadership experience in collegiate athletics, including running his own successful athletic department, in addition to serving over 21 years at Power Five institutions. While Vic’s focus will be on the external areas of the department, he will be a key member of my leadership team and will be counted on to make many of the day-to-day decisions.

“Vic brings with him ties to the Northeast, over 30 years of college athletics experience and a reputation for developing student-athletes and coaches alike. He believes in the mission of higher education and may be one of the most competitive individuals I know.”

Cegles earned a reputation for coordinating successful fundraising campaigns in his stints. Cegles spearheaded Long Beach State’s first ever capital campaign and raised over $25 million for athletics. Long Beach teams captured 36 Big West championships, made 70 NCAA postseason appearances under his leadership and have won the conference's Commissioner’s Cup for six years in a row. 

The Long Beach Press Telegram first reported Cegles' move from Long Beach State to UConn.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Diaco generating interest in UConn program

Time will tell how the 2016 UConn football season progresses and what the crowds look like at the seven home games. However, head coach Bob Diaco is certainly doing his part to drum up support for the team heading into his third season.

He took part in meet and greets with UConn fans in Hartford and New York this week. The Associated Press did a story on Diaco's visit to Van Diemens on 3rd Avenue in New York. The story has been appearing on websites and papers across the country and there is no way of quantifying how valuable this is and will be for the program moving forward.

It is not the first time that Diaco has done this. I did a story back in 2014 when he made a similar appearance at Buffalo Wild Wings in Milford. Since Diaco has been on the job at UConn he has certainly tried to get the word out and he should be commended for that. His success at UConn will ultimately be determined by wins and losses but he is doing his part as the face of UConn football to get the word out. I have seen posts on social media suggesting that Diaco's third team with the Huskies bears similarities to Matt Rhule's third squad at Temple which won 10 games during the regular season and played in the American Athletic Conference title game. If the Huskies can approach the kind of success the 2015 Temple team enjoyed, the fans including some likely at these "road tour" events will get to see what Diaco was hired to do, turn around the fortunes of the UConn football program.

Diaco's next stop on his road tour is Dockside Seafood & Grill in Branford on Monday from 5:30-8 p.m. and on June 16 he will appear at Jasper White's Summer Shack in Cambridge, Mass.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

UConn's Crozier named to Rimington Trophy watch list

UConn redshirt sophomore center Ryan Crozier is one of 56 players named to the Rimington Trophy spring watch list.

What's interesting is that this is Crozier's second appearance on the Rimington watch list but he has yet to appear in a game at center for the Huskies. Last year he was also named to the watch list as he was expected to replace the graduated Alex Mateas as UConn's No. 1 center but a knee injury would sideline him for the 2015 season.

Crozier, who played at national powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.,, appeared in 10 games as a true freshman in 2014. He started at left guard in the final three games of the season.

Crozier returned to the field for spring practice and assumed the role of starting center as he had during the 2015 spring drills before suffering his injury.

The award is named after Dave Rimington, a two-time All-American center at Nebraska and two-time winner of the Outland Trophy.


Monday, May 16, 2016

Raise, extension for UConn's Bob Diaco

After getting the UConn football team to a bowl game for the first time since the 2010 season, Bob Diaco received a raise and two-year extension.

Diaco will make $2 million during the 2019 season and $2.1 million in 2020. He also received an increase of $100,000 for the 2016 season, $125,000 in 2017 and $200,000 in 2018 from the contract he signed on Dec. 12, 2013 when he left his job as Notre Dame's defensive coordinator to take over at UConn.

The amount that Diaco would owe the university if he leaves for another job remains at $700,000 for the upcoming season. On the original contract, it was $400,000 if he left in 2017 or 2018 but now that number is $350,000 in 2017 and $175,000 in 2018 while the numbers are $100,000 in 2019 and $50,000 in 2020.

Diaco led UConn into its first bowl game since the 2010 season when the Huskies finished 6-6 in the regular season before falling to Marshall in the 2015 St. Petersburg Bowl.

UConn returns starting quarterback Bryant Shirreffs, two top running backs Arkeel Newsome and Ron Johnson, its top five receivers, six offensive linemen who have started games, its kicker, punter and six of its top eight tacklers.

UConn kicks off Diaco's third season at the helm on Sept. 1 when the Huskies host Maine.

News of Diaco's contract extension was first reported by Sports Illustrated.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Former UConn DL Adeyemi signed by Chicago Bears

A year ago Deshon Foxx and B.J. McBryde used the opportunity as a rookie camp invitee to first earn contracts as undrafted free agents and would end the 2015 season on the rosters of the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers respectively.

Now it is Kenton Adeyemi's turn.

The defensive lineman out of Wethersfield was one of three tryout players signed by the Chicago Bears.

Adeyemi had 28 tackles, 3 1/2 tackles for loss and two sacks as a senior.

The Bears announced the news on its Twitter account

#Bears agree to terms on 3-year deals w/ following three workouts from this weekend:

DL Kenton Adeyemi
WR Kieren Duncan
P Ben LeCompte

Monday, May 09, 2016

Departing juniors take care of business at UConn

When players with remaining eligibility start disappearing from the roster, it could wreak havoc with a program's Academic Progress Rate score which could be a recipe for disaster.

I have to admit to being curious how things were going to shake out as 10 players listed as juniors on the roster in the 2015 UConn media guide are no longer with the program.

The good news is that former scholarship players Kyle Bockeloh, Jazzmar Clax, Ellis Marder and Zach Rugg are among the graduates listed in the official program along with walk-ons JJ Bivona, John-Luke Bogue and William Weyrauch meaning seven of the 10 juniors no longer with the program have graduated. Tim Boyle and Dhameer Bradley needed to be in good academic standing to transfer to Eastern Kentucky and Sacred Heart respectively meaning that UConn's future APR scores shouldn't be negatively impacted by the departure of the players a season early.

Some of our graduates before the ceremonies..congrats and good luck!

Special mention show go to Josh Marriner, who graduated in three years and Andrew Paluch earned Honors Scholar recognition with a major in chemical engineering.

Returning players Sean Marinan, Bobby Puyol and Nick Vitale have already graduated as well.

Byron Jones came back to take part in graduation ceremonies while 2015 team captains Andrew Adams, Julian Campenni and Marquise Vann have also graduated in addition to fellow seniors Dalton Gifford, Junior Lee and Graham Stewart although Adams, Campenni, Lee and Stewart were sort of busy over the weekend taking part in NFL rookie camps.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Some date changes in UConn's 2017 non-conference schedule

There are a couple of changes to report in UConn's 2017 non-conference schedule.

The season opener will be on Aug. 31 against Holy Cross, a game that previously was announced as a Sept. 9 kickoff. Also, the Missouri game originally scheduled to be played on Sept. 23 will now be on Oct. 28.

The process of scheduling non-conference games is better written using a pencil. A case in point is next year's non-conference slate.

Here's a look at UConn's 2017 non-conference schedule in December of 2014 and the present day schedule

December 2014       May 2016 
9-2 UMass               8-31 Holy Cross
9-9, Holy Cross       9-16 at Virginia
9-16 at Virginia       10-28 Missouri
9-23 Missouri          11-18 Boston College

On national signing day, UConn coach Bob Diaco made it clear that he was expecting incoming freshman Quayvon Skanes to make an impact in the return game. The star out of Chicago certainly is showing he has speed to burn.

At the Chicago Public Schools trials on Wednesday Skanes posted times of 11.14 and 11.06 in the 100 meters to advance to the finals (although he did not run in the event on Saturday).

Skanes also ran the leadoff leg in Phillips' second-place 4x100 relay at the trials, finishing with a time of 43.39 and also ran the first leg in the 4x200 relay team which was the top qualifier with a time of 1:33.35.

Skanes was on Phillips' 4x200 team which finished second in Saturday's championships with a time of 1:31.52.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

NFL dreans still alive for UConn stars

It's time to do a little catching up. I've been in Michigan since Friday to attend my nephew's graduation from the University of Michigan. My intention was to make it a completely computer-free weekend but that lasted until the news broke that former Duke women's basketball star Azura' Stevens would be transferring to UConn. Saying that is big news would be an incredible understatement. I would say that if the UConn coaching staff could pick a player off any other college team to add to its roster for the next couple of seasons, I would only like South Carolina's A'ja Wilson ahead of the 6-foot-6 Stevens.

Since this is a blog about UConn football, I'll stop there with the women's basketball talk.

Now that I am at the airport waiting to start my journey back to Connecticut, it's a good time to get caught up on draft/free agent news.

After nine years of having at least one player taken in the NFL draft, no Huskies were selected in the three-day draft.

However, at least five seniors on the 2015 team will be headed to NFL training camps.

It's already been reported that safety Andrew Adams was signed by the New York Giants as an undrafted rookie free agent. It is the second straight year that a UConn player received a call from the Giants as receiver Geremy Davis was taken by the Giants in the sixth round of the 2015 NFL draft.

There will be a couple of familiar faces in camp with Adams as Ray Brownell, agent for former UConn safety Junior Lee confirmed in an email to me that Lee would be headed to training camp with the Giants. Lee opened more than a few eyes with a sensational performance at UConn's pro day He also had a chance to take part in the Giants' local pro day and there were multiple reports that Lee had another strong showing. Just a few minutes ago, Breakout Athletes which trains a large number of Connecticut athletes sent me a tweet that former UConn defensive end Kenton Adeyemi would be going to camp with the Giants as well.

As often as the Giants have been pursuing UConn products in the last couple of seasons, they have a lot of work to do to catch the Indianapolis Colts in that department. Well, the Colts are at it again as former UConn defensive lineman Julian Campenni is heading to camp with the Colts.

Also, after I posted the blog about Adams, Lee and Campenni getting calls from NFL teams, I received a tweet about linebacker Graham Stewart going to camp with the Minnesota Vikings.

@NHRJimFuller my client Graham Stewart from UConn heading to Minnesota Vikings #boa
Campenni, who like Adams was a team captain on the 2015 UConn team, tweeted his appreciation to the Colts for giving him this opportunity.


Just want to thank the @Colts for giving me an opportunity to live out my dreams!! Trust me you wont regret the decision!

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