Wednesday, May 10, 2017

UConn's APR increases yet again

The UConn football team ranks fourth among American Athletic Conference programs with an Academic Progress Rate multiyear score of 975.

Navy leads the way at 991, UCF is next at 984 followed by Cincinnati at 976 and UConn.

This is the third year in a row that the APR number has improved as it went from 957 in the period ending with the 2012-13 season to 960 to 969 and now is at 975. That number is a program best topping the mark of 974 in 2004-05 which is the first year the numbers were tabulated by the NCAA as the organization tracks the student-athletes over a five-year period to determine which programs are having their players remaining in good academic standing en route to graduating.

UConn's APR for the 2015-16 season is 976, well above the average mark of 962.

Three players leave UConn program

Linebacker William Richardson and a pair of walk-ons - linebacker Luke Sowa and defensive lineman Tom Tabur have left the program and have been removed from the roster.

None of departing players, all listed redshirt sophomores on the roster distributed at the spring game, appeared in a game for the Huskies.

Tabur had three tackles and Sowa was in on two stops in the spring game.

There's no questioning that Randy Edsall's way of conducting his business is significantly different to how things were done during Bob Diaco's time at the helm of the program. The coaching staff and most of the support staff have been changed, pictures in the football facilities have been removed. However, there is at least one holdover from the past regime.

The Football 101 Clinic, which features women going through drills under the watch of the coaches and players, was started by Diaco in his first season. Well, the fourth annual event will be on June 14 and expect to see promos coming on Fox 61 featuring prominent female on-air anchors and staff members.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Former UConn OL Levy signed by 49ers

A pair of UConn offensive linemen have been signed an undrafted rookie free agents by NFL teams. Just think about that statement for a bit while pondering the well-documented offensive line struggles at UConn in recent years.

Andreas Knappe was signed by the Atlanta Falcons shortly after the NFL draft came to an end. Today came word that after bringing in more than 50 players for tryouts, Richard Levy was one of three tryout players signed as free agents by San Francisco.

Levy was the starting left tackle as a sophomore and junior but with the emergence of redshirt freshman Matthew Peart, he moved to guard as he started all 37 games between 2014-16. I haven't heard whether Levy was playing tackle or guard for the 49ers.

I took over the day to day coverage of UConn football in 2013 and don't recall a rookie offensive lineman being on the 90-man roster of an NFL team during that time. I did some checking and it looks like the last time that happened was in 2012 when Moe Petrus was signed by Tampa Bay and Mike Ryan by Cincinnati.

By my count, 11 players on UConn's 2014 team - a roster that former coach Bob Diaco managed to squeeze one whole win against a Football Bowl Subdivision team - have taken part or will take part in NFL training camps (not including tryouts at rookie camps).

S Andrew Adams: Started 13 games and had 46 tackles as a rookie with New York Giants
DT Kenton Adeyemi: Signed as free agent in 2016 by Chicago and then Cleveland
WR Geremy Davis: Former sixth-round pick by New York Giants had two catches in 10 games in 2016, now on Los Angeles Chargers' roster
WR Deshon Foxx: Current on New York Jets roster, previously with Seattle
CB John Green: Signed as free agent by Tennessee Titans
DB Byron Jones: Starting safety for Dallas Cowboys who had 88 tackles in second NFL season
OT Andreas Knappe: Currently on Atlanta's 90-man roster
OT Richard Levy: Currently on San Francisco's 90-man roster
DL B.J. McBryde: Spent team either on the roster or practice squad with Philadelphia, Green Bay and San Franisco
S Obi Melifonwu: Second-round pick of Oakland Raiders
WR Noel Thomas: Signed as a free agent by Detroit

Also, defensive lineman Mikal Myers (Baltimore), kicker Bobby Puyol (Baltimore) and cornerback Jhavon Williams (New Orleans) got looks in rookie camp as did Reuben Frank with Detroit in 2015 while a talented group of seniors, who were freshmen on the 2014 team, figure to add to that list in 2018.

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Early signing period is approved

Pretty much from the time that the NCAA Division I Council gave the thumbs' up to the creation of an early signing period for Division I football, it was merely a matter of when and not if it would officially be instituted.

Today was that day as there will be an early signing period from Dec. 20-22. Players can still wait until early February to sign as in past years but the early signing period is expected to cut down on the flipping of commitments in late January and early February until the players make it official. The drawback of the timing is it throws things into disarray for programs who went through what UConn experienced as Bob Diaco was fired at a time when the buyout price went down. When that happens and players who signed early want out of that commitment, it could be a little more complicated than in past years when new coaches simply had to try to hold onto the committed players and not have to deal with the red tape coming from players who have signed their National Letters of Intent. I also have to wonder if schools will be more willing to cut loose a coach in the middle of the season with an eye of minimizing the damage during the early signing period.

During spring practice I asked UConn coach Randy Edsall about the new legislation and here are some of his thoughts:

"I think they got it right, I think there are more things that they can do. I was pleased that the proposal got passed," Edsall said. "It is steps in the right direction, I do like the early signing period. We were getting to a point where people were just throwing offers out there because other people offered kids and now what happens, it will be interesting to see how many kids want to sign or commit to a school that offered and say, 'no you can't commit.'

"They just have to get back to civility in recruiting, let these kids be kids, tell them the truth, don't fill them with things that aren't there. Now I wish they would stop where you couldn't offer kids early enough. Having official visits in April, May and June, that will be different especially when they talk about the academic part when you bring kids in when you don't even have six semesters in of grades on them. That will be interesting to see how those things turned out."