Sunday, June 26, 2016

Dixon trying to get up to speed at UConn

Keyion Dixon opened more than a few eyes as a quarterback when he was a senior at Glastonbury High School but the reality is that he would rather be on the receiving end of passes.

Dixon took the first steps towards realizing that goal when he headed up to UConn last week to take part in the conditioning program as well as enroll in some classes in the summer session.

"I am coming at it full speed," Dixon said after being named the offensive MVP for the winning Team Constitution squad at the Super 100 Classic at Rentschler Field. "They are always about precision routes, running everything with timing, just execution and that is what I really have to work on adjusting to the tempo of things and getting everything correct at that moment of time."

The receiving position is an interesting mix at UConn with veterans Noel Thomas and Brian Lemelle joined by talented youngsters Tyraiq Beals, Hergy Mayala and Aaron McLean.

"You have to take heed at what the other guys tell you because they have been in the same position when they were a freshman," Dixon said. "They tell you all the do's and don't, you just have to learn from them, soak up all that you can. You have to be a sponge in your first couple of weeks and in your first year because they have been there before. They know what to tell you in order for you to succeed because we all want to win. All of our receivers there because they all have different skill sets that you can benefit from so you try to see what they are good at and implement into your game."

Dixon admits that the workout sessions run by Matt Balis "are kicking my butt."

"We had our first leg day so they made us lift and then run so I figured wow, they are really into this," Dixon said. "Once you lift it, OK let's go run,  mentally you have to be focused for anything they can throw at you.

"You wake up at 5, you try to eat but it is hard when you have an hour to get ready and change. It is a workout from 6-7:30, you have to go to class until 8:15. My class schedule is 8:15-12:30, a rest period and go back and do practice."

Dixon had two catches in yesterday's game. The first one was a 65-yard touchdown and the other one was a 40-yard grab which set up another TD. Being on the same field where he will play his home games only increased his excitement to put on the UConn uniform.

"It is a dream come true," Dixon said. "You realized that you worked all your high school career, basically all of your life to get there and when you are there, you try to take in as much as you can. It is also a learning curve because you don't know what to expect going in there, they just throw you in there and teach you but it is hard to grasp all of that. It is very stressful; very tiring.

"You try a lot to make a good first impression on the team but then you realize there are other guys there who have the same skill set as you  so you try to differentiate yourself from the crowd. once you get into your comfort zone."


Saturday, June 25, 2016

UConn recruits shine at The Rent

UConn football signees Tyler Coyle and Keyion Dixon couldn't have come up with a better finish to their high school careers as they embark on life as members of the UConn football team that what transpired on a sunny Saturday night at Rentschler Field.

Coyle forced a fumble while Dixon had two catches for 105 yards including a 65-yard touchdown which opened the scoring as Team Constitution defeated Team Nutmeg 33-9. Dixon set up another score with a 40-yard reception.

"I had to give it my all and I came through," Coyle said. "It was definitely sweet. Like I told him, it is the first of many(touchdowns)."

Coyle, who wrapped up a brilliant track career by running the second leg on Windsor High School's national championship 4x200 relay team, is not enrolled in classes in summer session like Dixon and the other incoming freshmen as he said there is paperwork issues that need taken care of but he expected to be up in three or four weeks.

Dixon arrived on June 19 and has been introduced to the grueling conditioning program run by Matt Balis at UConn.

"You wake up at 5, you try to eat but it is hard when you have an hour to get ready and change," Dixon said. "It is a workout from 6-7:30, you have to go to class until 8:15. My class schedule is 8:15-12:30, a rest period and go back. You have time to yourself. You know you have obligations to yourself but you have things (to get done).

 "It is a mixture of both being that you are used to doing things on your own and in college, it is a team and it is intensive," Dixon said. "Everything is fast paced, you have to get it done and you have to be on time. They are really big on discipline, doing your job and worrying about the guy next to you, working with them and it is really just fun."

Dixon and his classmates have engaged in regular group chats allowing them to get to know the players they will be spending the next four or five years with but being on campus together has enabled they to become an even more tight-knit group.

"It is a really fun experience," Dixon said. "You talk to them over the phone, you don't really get a grasp of who they are in person, now having all of them, having Ty with me, we have known each other for years, having him coming there with me, it felt great to understand where they are coming from, putting it together as one cohesive unit and it really feels good  to be with them.

"It is a dream come true, you realized that you worked all your high school career, basically all of your life to get there and when you are there, you try to take in as much as you can. It is also a learning curve because you don't know what to expect going in there, they just throw you in there and teach you but it is hard to grasp all of that; it is very stressful; very tiring.

"You try a lot to make a good first impression on the team but then you realize there are other guys there who have the same skill set as you  so you try to differentiate yourself from the crowd. once you get into your comfort zone. The workouts are kicking my butt."

Dixon was named the offensive MVP for the winning team at the Super 100 Classic and he certainly seemed to make the best of his last game at Rentschler before beginning his college career.

"Coming in and playing in the Rent, this is a dream come true and to have Tyler right there next to me as my teammate to back me up on defense whenever I needed him," Dixon said.

"It felt good going back to UConn with the victory, it really means something to both of us."
While Dixon knows he will play receiver at UConn, Coyle is uncertain if he will play either cornerback or safety for the Huskies. He did go up to campus to see his soon to be classmates working out which only made him more eager to get up there for good.

"It's been a long ride and something like this is great to go out with," Coyle said. "We have to work hard, that strength and conditioning is no joke.

"I think when I get up there, I will be fine.

"You just have to take everything in. The strength and conditioning is a the hardest."

Hard work is nothing new to Coyle as his exploits in track and field indicate.

"All the things in high school, that was the last thing on my checklist," Coyle said of winning a national title. "It was so surreal to really accomplish that. It was such a great team that we had.
It is definitely intense. I praise God."

Reuben Frank didn't score a touchdown in 48 games at UConn. He didn't have to wait that long to find the end zone as a pro.

Frank blocked a punt and recovered it for a touchdown in his first regular-season CFL game in Edmonton's 45-37 loss to Ottawa on Saturday night.

Here's a link to a video of Frank's impressive play.

Former UConn standout Joseph makes an impact

Former UConn defensive end Jesse Joseph recorded his first career sack in the Canadian Football League in Montreal's 22-14 win over Winnipeg on Friday night.

Montreal was leading 22-6 with 5:15 remaining when Joseph took down Drew Willy for a six-yard loss on third down to give the ball back to Montreal. It was one of five sacks for the Alouettes in the season opener.

Joseph is in his second season with Montreal as he made six tackles in 18 games during the 2015 season.

A couple of Joseph's former teammates could square off tonight when Alex Mateas's Ottawa team plays Edmonton featuring rookie Reuben Frank.

In Toronto's 42-20 loss to Hamilton on Thursday, Larry Taylor returned to the CFL as he returned five punts for 40 yards and had 68 yards on three kickoff returns. Taylor moved up a spot to eighth on CFL's career kickoff return list moving past Ron Hopkins.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, June 20, 2016

Former UConn star Taylor returning to CFL

Former UConn star Larry Taylor, who twice led the Canadian Football League in punt return yardage, is returning to the league after being signed by the Toronto Argonauts today.

Taylor, who previously played for Calgary and Montreal, ranks seventh in return yardage in CFL history, last played in the league in 2014.

Taylor played for Montreal from 2008-10 although he spent most of the 2010 season attempting to make it in the NFL. He was signed by Calgary in 2011 and spent three seasons there before being traded to Montreal in 2014.

He is one of five former UConn players who will start the season on CFL rosters as Reuben Frank is with Edmonton, Alex Mateas is in his second season with Ottawa while Martin Bedard and Jesse Joseph are on Montreal's roster.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

UConn sacks leader among CFL cuts

Canadian Football League teams had to trim their rosters to 46 players today and among those players let go today was Trevardo Williams, UConn's all-time leader in sacks, who was waived by the Toronto Argonauts.

Williams played in both preseason games for Toronto, finishing with two tackles and one sack.

Former UConn receiver Terence Jeffers-Harris was cut by the BC Lions. While official rosters haven't been posted, former Huskies Martin Bedard (Montreal), Reuben Frank (Edmonton), Jesse Joseph (Montreal) and Alex Mateas (Ottawa) were not listed among the cuts. Bedard, Joseph and Mateas (a former No. 1 overall pick) are all from Canada so it's not a surprise to see them survive the cuts but it would be an impressive feat for Frank to be on the opening game roster for Edmonton. Frank was signed by Edmonton on May 28.

I'd expect official rosters to be on the official CFL site perhaps as soon as tomorrow. The regular season kicks off on Thursday when Hamilton plays Toronto.

Labels: , , , ,

Special day for pair of UConn incoming freshmen

The new members of the UConn football team are heading to campus today to embark on their freshmen seasons with the Huskies. However, before arriving both Noel Brouse and Tyler Coyle had some work yet to be done.

Brouse had a pair of sacks as the Pennsylvania team defeated Maryland 26-14 in the Big 33 Classic.

Brouse was originally slated to play offensive line but coaches decided to move him to defensive end. Brouse got the start and was a part of a dominating defensive effort.

While Brouse was in Hersheypark Park Stadium winning the final high school game of his career, Coyle was at North Carolna A&T University helping his Windsor High School 4x200 relay team win a national title.

Coyle ran the second leg as Windsor finished with a time of 1:27.03 to take home the title at the New Balance Outdoor Track and Field Nationals. He also ran the second leg on the 4x100 relay team which qualified for today's championship with the fifth-best qualifying time of 41.71. The final is set for today at 5:30 p.m.

Friday, June 17, 2016

UConn incomnig freshman in action tomorrow

Lineman Noel Brouse will suit up for the Pennsylvania team at the Big 33 Classic tomorrow and there is a live stream available at I can't vouch for the quality of the stream or if any passwords will be needed but you can try going to that page around 7 p.m. tomorrow and see how it works.

Brouse will wear No. 79 in the game.

The Big 33 Classic is a big-time event. I went down there in 2013 when Chris Britton, Junior Joseph and Brian Lemelle played in the game and was very impressed with how well run the game is. I won't be making the trip down there this year unfortunately.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Diaco family gives back to UConn

UConn announced that UConn football coach Bob Diaco and his wife Julia have announced plans to contribute $250,000 to help fund the construction of new soccer, baseball and softball facilities at UConn.

“Our UConn football family is very fortunate to call The Burton Family Football Complex and Mark R. Shenkman Training Center our home,” said Diaco in a statement. “These facilities are among the finest in the nation and fully serve the needs of our football student-athletes. I want all Husky student-athletes and my fellow coaches to be able to enjoy the same caliber of facilities, which they richly deserve.”

Preliminary costs to build the baseball, soccer and softball complexes total $46 million and the UConn Foundation expects to be able to raise $25 million in private donations toward the projects, with a substantial portion of that total already in hand.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

UConn's Knappe, Williams on 2017 NFL draft watch list

Let's just file this under the "take this for what it's worth" department with the NFL draft still about 10 months away and it's hard to read too much into draft watch lists this far out but College Gridiron Showcase has been posting watch lists.

Offensive tackle Andreas Knappe and cornerback Jhavon Williams are the only UConn players to make the list as they are two of 412 draft eligible players on the list.

Knappe is going into his third season as UConn's starting right offensive tackle while Williams is coming off a junior season where he had 55 tackles and three interceptions.

Personally, if I were to list UConn's pro prospects in the senior class, I would start with safety Obi Melifonwu and receiver Noel Thomas but it is nice recognition for Knappe and Williams, who I would consider to be leading candidates to be among the UConn captains during the 2016 season.

Labels: ,

More UConn kickoff times announced

UConn announced the start times for five more games during the upcoming season.

The Huskies kick off the season by hosting Maine on at 7 p.m. on Sept. 1 with the game airing on ESPN3. It was previously announced that the Sept. 10 game at Navy had a 3:30 p.m. kickoff and it will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network. The Sept. 17 home game against Virginia will start at 1:30 p.m. and be televised by SNY. On Sept. 29 UConn's game at Houston will start at 8 p.m. and be broadcast on ESPN. On Oct. 8, Cincinnati will face UConn at 11:30 a.m. with the game being carried by CBS Sports Network while ESPN2 will televise the 7 p.m. Temple/UConn game on Nov. 4.

UConn returns 11 of the 12 offensive players to start at least five games a season ago and seven defensive players who started at least 10 games in the 2015 season.

Yesterday, Virginia defensive back Bebe Olaniyan committed to UConn and today it was New Jersey linebacker Ryan Dickens' turn.

Dickens announced his commitment on his Twitter page

Beyond blessed and honored to say that I have committed to play Division 1 football for Uconn!  #Huskies

Saturday, June 11, 2016

UConn commit Dixon wins New England title

UConn incoming freshman Keyion Dixon of Glastonbury won the 300-meter intermediate hurdles title at today's New England Track and Field Championships.

Dixon finished with a time of 39.14 as he was one of three runners to finish under 39.30.

Fellow UConn signee Tyler Coyle of Windsor ran a leg on the second-place 4x00 relay team, the third-place 4x100 relay team and was seventh in the 100 meters in a time of 11.22.

I missed this when it happened but Quayvon Skanes, another top sprinter set to be a part of the UConn football team in the upcoming season, was a member of the Phillips' 4x100 relay team which placed third in the IHSA 2A championships with a time of 42.66. Windsor's time today was 42.69.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Goetz taking job at UConn

Former University of Minnesota interim athletic director Beth Goetz has been hired as UConn's Chief Operating Officer and Senior Woman Administrator for the UConn athletic department and will also serve as the sport administrator for football

“I am honored to join the University of Connecticut team and I am extremely grateful to Director of Athletics David Benedict and President Susan Herbst  for the opportunity to serve an institution nationally recognized for academic and athletic achievement,” Goetz said in a statement. “I look forward to working under David's leadership and with an outstanding group of coaches and staff as they continue to pursue excellence each and every day on behalf of UConn student-athletes and their future success."

Goetz is the second hire by Benedict with ties to the power conferences as Deputy Athletic Director Vic Cegles spent time at Arizona State before leaving his job as the Director of Athletics at Long Beach State to come to UConn.

“The opportunity to add an individual and leader of Beth’s caliber to our team at UConn is like winning the national championship or signing the number one prospect in the recruiting class in terms of athletic administration,” Benedict said in a statement. “Beth is a consummate professional and brings a diverse skill set to Storrs and I know she will have a profound influence on our student-athletes, coaches and staff. Personally, I couldn’t be happier in her decision to join the UConn family and she will have an immediate impact.”

Goetz was named the interim AD since August following the resignation of Norwood Teague. Mark Coyle began in his role as AD at Minnesota on May 31.

Goetz spent 11 seasons as the women's soccer coach at Missouri-St. Louis and in her final eight years at the university was the assistant athletic director and senior women's administrator before taking a job as an associate athletic director and senior women's administrator at Butler from 2008-2013. She joined the Minnesota athletic department on March 4, 2013.

Goetz was on the Big Ten’s Administrators Council and is a member of the conference’s Sports Management Committee

Goetz was entrusted with overseeing the athletic department after the departure of Teague after he was accused of sexual harassment

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

UConn's Diaco: "Everybody is good to go"

The third annual Football 101 Clinic served as some fun of games for the members of the UConn football team during an otherwise grueling stretch of summer workouts.

Teaching more than 250 women a variety of drills, helping them study film and even allowing themselves to have their ankles taped by the participants made for a rather giddy evening of football.

The reality, however, is that much of their time in the coming weeks will not be all fun and games. If UConn is to take the next step in its march to respectability and beyond, the workout sessions between now and the start of preseason practice will be a crucial piece of the puzzle.

The players recently returned to school after the end of the spring semester and UConn coach Bob Diaco liked what he saw when the players reported.

"I think we are getting the understanding that there is no time off, there is time away," Diaco said. "They went home , went back to their communities, took a little vacation but they had active rest time. They were able to come back, pick up and start moving forward. It wasn't like you took four weeks and they came back at Ground Zero, they are ready to work and get better."

While I won't know for sure if there are any surprise departures from the team until the fall roster is posted on the official site, Diaco said "I think everybody is good to go. I don't know of any issues."

Another topic that excited Diaco was seeing his co-defensive coordinators Anthony Poindexter and Vincent Brown both on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot.

"I can't imagine there is another football staff that has two potential College Hall of Fame members, that is an awesome thing for them," Diaco said. The accolades for UConn and national prominence just keeps going on and on and on."

Diaco referenced the success of the women's and men's basketball programs and also the baseball team on multiple occasions as he addressed the future of his own program.

Speaking of successful programs at UConn, AD David Benedict was at tonight's event and he admitted that things are kind of settling down after a hectic first few months on the job.

"Up until last night, I can't even tell you what the schedule has been like over the last three weeks but it has been good," Benedict said. "The great thing about the pace is I have really been able to get out and see as many people, get out and visit with the programs that I have both basketball and baseball. The most excited and energized I get is when I really get time to spend with the student-athletes because that is why we do what we do."

Obviously Benedict was asked to weigh in on the recent Big 12 meetings and the potential of UConn landing in the Big 12 or another conference. His response was similar to what he said on the day he was introduced as UConn's AD. He also admitted that he was more concerned about attending his first American Athletic Conference meetings than what was taking place at the Big 12 event.

"That was my first opportunity and experience," Benedict said. "For me, there was a lot of learning, a lot of listening. I think anytime you come into that kind of environment, to go in and start talking a lot is probably the wrong approach, at least it is for me. I was doing a lot of listening, a lot of learning and I need to understand where UConn fits in and how we can make our conference stronger because that is our conference.

"I have said many times that my goal and the goal of our coaches is to dominate the conference we are in. I think there are a lot of good things about our conference, I think we can continue to improve, grow the prominence of our conference and I think that bodes well. The only programs that anybody is talking about moving are all in conference for the most part so that tells you about the strength of our conference. I am excited about the future, getting to work with those individuals about how we can raise the level of national credibility that our conference (has)."

As for the UConn football program, Benedict drew a parallel to the Auburn softball program which was playing for a national title on Wednesday night.

"(Auburn softball coach) Clint Myers is probably one of the elite coaches across all sports, across all levels that I have ever been around," Benedict said. "He has won national championships everywhere he has ever been. He is truly an incredible leader of young individuals in addition to being one of the best coaches in the country. To see what he has been able to do with changing that culture there, they had never been beyond the first round of an NCAA tournament to this is the second year in a row they are in the college World Series and now they are one win away from winning a national championship. To me that demonstrates the ability (just) as Coach Diaco and his staff is changing the culture, setting the bar really high. I wasn't here but I have heard the bar that he set. I think it takes setting high expectations, having high standards and that is what I see in our football program."

Here are some videos from tonight's event

Monday, June 06, 2016

State Open title for UConn commit Keyion Dixon

Keyion Dixon continues to add championships before he heads up to UConn.

Dixon won the 300 intermediate hurdles at today's State Open Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Dixon's winning time was 38.38 seconds as he held off Danbury's Jonathan Bartley. I went back through the State Open results dating back to 1997 and couldn't find a faster time. There were no results posted in 1996. The State Open record of 37.63 was set by Aaron Haynes out of Wilbur Cross in 1994.

Fellow UConn signee Tyler Coyle came into the meet with a seeded time of 10.78 in the 100 meters and he advanced to the finals with a time of 10.79 before finishing third in the event. He also was fifth in the 200 and ran on the third-place 4x100 relay team as Windsor finished second in the team standings behind only State Open champion Wethersfield.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Dixon among freshmen ready to hit ground running at UConn

These a pleasantly hectic days for Keyion Dixon as he eyes a State Open title and wraps up the academic side of things during his senior year at Glastonbury High School.

However, even with all the things on his plate, the UConn incoming freshman can't help but think about how his life will change when he heads up to campus on June 19 along with the his other classmates.

"It is kind of surreal," Dixon said shortly as winning the 300 intermediate hurdles title at the CIAC Class LL Track and Field Championships on Wednesday. "You try to take it all in before your life changes and you play football, you just want to enjoy all the track that you can.

"I'm very excited, I am working hard and excited to get with all the guys. All the guys have great vibes and energy about them and I am looking forward to being with them in the summer and just having fun.

"You kind of look ahead but realize that there is some school left, I have to focus on school work to get that right to make sure I am in the best possible position as a student before an athlete. I am looking forward to seeing all the guys and getting ready to hit the field all at the same time, it is going to be exciting."

The reality is about to hit home as is he only about 2 1/2 weeks from making the transition from UConn recruit to UConn player.

"It is like a dream come true," Dixon said. "You work for four years, you always knew what you wanted out of life and when you turn your dream into a reality, it feels so great.  I still can't believe it. All the guys talk about it in the group chat saying 'wow we are getting closer and closer to what we've always wanted all of our lives.'"

This is a smaller class in numbers but there haven't been many defections so they have been able to check in on each other through the regular group chats.

"It was very special, as opposed to other freshmen in previous years when they get there and they don't really know  each other and try to make friends, for us it was like a tight-knit community from the start," Dixon said. "Since the official visit we have all been laughing and getting along with each other, now as that day is getting closer that new family is here."

Next up for Dixon is Monday's State Open. Barring anything crazy taking place at today's Class S meet, he will be the top seed in the 300 hurdles and fellow incoming UConn freshman Tyler Coyle will be the No. 1 seed in the 100 meters.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

UConn commits Coyle, Dixon set the pace

Later this month Tyler Coyle and Keyion Dixon will be among the freshmen heading up to UConn to get their first taste of life as a college football player.

First, however they are wrapping up impressive track careers.

Coyle was a triple winner at the CIAC Class MM Championships at Middletown High School. He won the 100 meters (running 10.81 in the preliminaries and 10.78 in the final), he took first place in the 200 (21.92) and ran a leg on the winning 4x100 relay as Windsor narrowly missed setting the Class MM record with a time of 42.16.

Windsor won the team title with 105 points for the program's sixth straight outdoor track class title after winning the Class L title the previous five seasons

Keyion Dixon wasn't quite as busy but he also broke the tape first as he won the 300 intermediate hurdles in a time of 38.80 seconds at the Class LL meet.

I covered the event for the Register and caught up to Dixon. I will be putting together a blog tomorrow with Dixon discussing his excitement at getting his career at UConn going.

Here's what he had to say about winning the 300 hurdles

"I was very happy," Dixon said. "I was running for time instead of running against people so I figured if I tried my best and tried to run my best, I'd get it.

"I've always wanted to look to improve each and every meet. I kind of felt out of shape midseason so I figured the last half of the season I have to kick it into (late) season form, do whatever I needed to in order to win."

UConn legend Dorsey, two current assistant coaches on College Football Hall of Fame ballot

Vincent Brown, Anthony Poindexter on College Football Hall of Fame ballot 
UConn is well represented on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot which was released this morning as former UConn linebacker John Dorsey and current co-defensive coordinators Vincent Brown and Anthony Poindexter are all in the running for the Hall of Fame.

Dorsey owns UConn's career record with 495 tackles while his 184 tackles in 1983 is also a program record while he is one of three Huskies with a record 24 tackles in a game.

Poindexter was a standout safety at Virginia where he made 342 tackles and had 12 interceptions. He was a two-time All-American and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 1998. Despite an injury-shortened senior season, he was taken by the Baltimore Ravens in the seventh round of the 1999 NFL draft and played for the Ravens for two season.

Brown made a record 570 tackles at Mississippi Valley State and was a first-team All-American as a senior. He would become a second-round pick of the New England Patriots and earn All-Pro honors three times in his eight-year pro career.

Last year I asked Poindexter about being on the Hall of Fame ballot and here's what he had to say.

"I guess they posted it on twitter or facebook, somebody sent me a message," Poindexter said. "I hadn't been tracking it but somebody sent me congratulations and I looked it up. It is a nice honor, hopefully one of these days I will make it in.

"It goes back to my coaching, my teammates and stuff like that but it is a nice honor."

Former Yale stars Rich Diana and John Zanieski, former Southern Connecticut State athletic director Darryl Rogers, former Stratford High and Villanova linebacker Curtis Eller and former Trinity football coach Don Miller are also on the ballot.

The Hall of Fame class will be announced on Jan. 6.