Sunday, August 20, 2017

Former Ansonia, UConn QB Luke Richmond returns to Storrs

It's not unusual to see a former UConn football player at the practices we're allowed to witness but it's very rare to see one of them serving in the role of an official.

Yet, there was former Ansonia High and UConn quarterback as one of the college officials UConn had at its Sunday morning practice.

"It is a lot different up here from when I was here," said Richmond, who played in 22 games at UConn from 1998-2000. "This practice field is the same. I lived in that dorm, Hale Hall for three years so I can see that but that building (next to Hale Hall) wasn't there, the indoor facility wasn't up here. When you come up here, it is big-time football, it is like going to a Penn State, it is like going to a Michigan."

Richmond is among the group of former UConn football players thrilled to see Randy Edsall back at the helm of the program after unsuccessful stints by Paul Pasqualoni and Bob Diaco.

"I felt like we needed stability," Richmond said. "I was not able to see many games but the ones I did see, was pretty tough to watch. When I heard he was coming back, I was very happy and I know that his track records shows he can improve and develop a program, win games, win the right way and academically graduate kids."

Richmond lives in Hamden now and admits that he doesn't get back to Ansonia very often but he does keep up on how the Ansonia High football program is doing. He is also rather thrilled that former Ansonia High star Arkeel Newsome has played well enough to rank fifth on UConn's career list with 4,211 all-purpose yards and ninth with 1,695 rushing yards.

"I have a sense of pride in where I came from," Richmond said. "I might be on the road in Toledo and I'll check Saturday morning to see if they won. Growing up in that area, that is what it is about, you grew up loving football. To see what Arkeel has done in three years, it is fantastic. He is on track for his degree which is the most important thing."

As Richmond mentioned, he does quite a bit of traveling during football season as he has worked his way up as an official. He is currently an official in the Mid-American Conference.

"It has turned into a passion, something I really love to do," Richmond said. "It is like being on a team. There are eight of us on the field, we all have strengths and weaknesses but we all gel just like when you play football.

"The kids are great, it is not a big difference. I love talking to the quarterback before the game, talking to the center. It is an emotional game so if a coach yells at you like Randy just yelled at them ... These guys out here they put in a ton of hours and this is their job, this is their

livelihood. My job is to go out there and do the best possible game that I can do for  myself and the guys on the field."

Edsall joked that Richmond is in better shape now at the age of 39 than he was when he played at UConn.

"He is doing well moving up from high school to college and now he is a referee in the MAC and they are with the Big 10," Edsall said.

As for today's practice, Edsall called it the worst so far in preseason camp from an offensive standpoint. There might have been more dropped passes than ones being caught during the 11 on 11 drills. Edsall unloaded on the offense after the 11 on 11 portion of practice wrapped up which was the focus of the story I filed for tomorrow's paper.

As for news, time ran out during last week's access before I was able to ask Edsall about the severity of the knee injury suffered by defensive lineman Philippe Okounam. I did get around to inquiring about it today.

"He tore his LCL but he is probably done for the season," Edsall said.

Speaking of defensive linemen, Kevin Murphy continues to push Foley Fatukasi for first-team snaps at nose tackle while A.J. Garson saw quite a bit of time with the starting defensive line at defensive end.

Freshmen Omar Fortt and Tyler Coyle continue to see first-team reps.

Quarterback David Pindell was made available for the first time since being named the starter.

I asked him if he has reached out to his former junior college teammate who completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,665 yards with 26 touchdown passes as a sophomore at UMass last season.

"I talked to him a couple weeks ago, he is a good guy," said Pindell, who backed up Ford as a freshman at Lackawanna College before becoming the starter as a sophomore. "I think the most I learned from him is how to prepare for a defense. The biggest thing I learned sitting behind him is learn how he controls a huddle, how he ran the offense."

Pindell admitted that he wasn't expecting a starting quarterback to be named until the end of camp but that happened a week ago. Considering that Pindell wasn't done with school at Lackawanna to take part in spring drills at UConn, it is rather remarkable that a decision came so quickly.

"I was pretty shocked," Pindell said. "I didn't say too much about it. I learned that is was my role so I wanted to go  from there

"It had been only two weeks, I thought he was going to wait it out until the end of camp but they made the decision early.

"There were no grudges or beefs, we all stayed the same, keep working with each other."

Freshman linebacker T.J. Gardner could take part in practice on Thursday. He's was dealing with injuries coming out of Windsor High School and recently was dealing with a concussion

I also spoke with Murphy and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Cam DeGeorge so look for more from them in the coming days.


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