It’s getting closer! The UConn AAC Summer kickoff guide was tweeted out early this morning and is packed with information about the team, coaches, and the upcoming season. If you’d like to read and go through it yourself here is a link:
Here’s a quick breakdown of what’s inside along with a few thoughts of my own:
- Starts out with a schedule and a quick fact about each game. FYI, we’re Tulane’s third ever game at their new stadium! Take that P5 schools!
- Provides “fast facts” about the university and its’ coaching staff. Even includes a phone number to the athletic office for those posters on the Boneyard who will want to ring Diaco’s neck after we give up the first TD of the season.
- Gives you the updated roster both numerically and alphabetically. All updated heights, weights, and numbers are on these pages. The best part of this is they unclude a pronunciation guide for certain players’ names. Paul Nwokeji (pronounced WHO-CAGE-E) must be thrilled.
- Then gives a roster breakdown of who’s returning and who we lost.
- Spring Depth Chart – I don’t remember ever seeing this after spring practice. It may have been out there somewhere, but a few things I found interesting.
- Levy, Mateas, & Knappe are monsters all over 300lbs. Gifford and Hopkins are also very large men and are quite young, so they still have time to keep growing and developing.
- Thomas Lucas made the two-deep as a receiver. I don’t know much about him, honestly thought he was on the defensive side of the ball.
- DeShon Foxx right now will be handling the kickoff and punt returns. The guy has explosive speed, and I hope this allows him to showcase his talents. He’s one of my guys that has to be a difference maker if we want to have success this year.
- FOUR FULL PAGES of Bob Diaco. Everything you didn’t know about the guy, you will learn in this guide.
- Bio’s on Geremy Davis & Byron Jones including stats and awards received.
- A last look at the 2014 schedule.
Over the course of the next several weeks, there will be a number of exciting items debuting on the blog as we prepare for the season opener at the end of August.
Here are some highlights:
AAC Media Day: I will be in attendance at AAC media day, to cover all things UCONN, as well as a summary on the rest of the conference. Here is what is expected heading in:
- One-on-one interviews with head coach Bob Diaco, WR Geremy Davis & CB Byron Jones
- Interviews with various coaches and impact players across the AAC
Please send questions you would like answered to me on twitter (@mattschonvisky) and I will pick and choose certain ones to ask both players and coaches.
Podcast (DEBUT): As mentioned on twitter, I will be debuting our first podcast during the game week for BYU. Dick Harmon of the Deseret News in Salt Lake City, Utah will be our first guest to discuss BYU football, predictions for week one and conference realignment. Please send questions for Dick to me on twitter (@mattschonvisky)
UCONN Football – Behind the Scenes (DEBUT): I will be conducting a number of exclusive one-on-one interviews throughout the season with players, coaches, administrators and staff members. I will be bringing you an inside look at what goes into the UCONN football program from behind the scenes, not just the final product fans see on Saturday’s.
UCONN Tailgating Experience (DEBUT) – As the parking lots open for BYU, I will be walking around grabbing video of various tailgates and the fan experience as they prepare for the season opener. Please tweet or email me at email@example.com if you would like your tailgate to be included. In your email, include your name, section you park in and flags you usually fly so we can find you in the lots.
A LOT MORE TO COME!!!
Please stay with The Boneyard Blog, the UCONN football fan’s source for the most up-to-date and breaking news surrounding the program.
The 2014 fan guide came out this morning. I don’t recall the athletic department doing this before. I know there was something up on the website each year, but this seems to be brand new and I get the feeling it will be a yearly thing. There’s not much new information in here, and most fans who have gone to games at the Rent know about the rules and restrictions, but at least UConn is making it easier to access the info and have it all in one place. They want to grow the fanbase, and this will make the new fan’s experience somewhat easier. The biggest thing the fan guide signifies to me is that THE SEASON IS ALMOST HERE!!! Thank God. Anyway, here is the link to the actual fan guide, and a few tidbits to remind folks or make people aware of for the upcoming season. And as always, a few of my own thoughts.
- Lots & Fanfest still open 4 hours prior to gametime. I really hope in the future this gets changed for night games. I’d so be there in the morning for BYU if allowed. I know I’m not the only one.
- It doesn’t give a price for parking for those who don’t get a parking pass. Last year I believe the price was $15. I’d expect it to be the same or within a dollar or two. I usually park in the Red Lot for the experience alone. The band usually walks around and plays, the frats, school groups, etc. have HUGE tailgates, and there’s plenty of room for throwing the football around (which is prohibited, yet I’ve never been told or seen anyone told to stop).
- Tailgating is NOT permitted once the game begins. I know they have encouraged people to go inside when the game is starting in the past, but I do know of groups of people who stayed in the parking lots the entire game. It’s possible they will enforce this more this season because it’s the first time I’ve ever seen it clearly stated to pack up the tailgate and go inside to the game.
- No kegs or drinking games. I’ve seen that rule broken and not enforced every UConn game I’ve ever been to since I was a student in 2004. Especially the drinking games. Seems like one of those things they have to say to say they said it, but probably won’t be enforced all too much. As long as your group isn’t acting like a bunch of jerks, my experience with the parking staff has always been a good one.
- The fan guide promoted the “Gameday Experience”, involving the Husky Walk, performance of the marching band, WTIC Dog House, amongst other things. This tells me they really are stressing people to get out of the parking lots and get into the stadium. I’m not sure if it’s enough to pull people away from their tailgates, but at least letting people know about it, especially families with kids, is a step in the right direction. I’m 29, and I never knew about this stuff other than the Husky Walk.
- Gives some insight and history of the new AAC. This is good because I’m not even sure myself what teams are in this conference anymore. Tulsa & Tulane are the same school in my mind, so this is helpful.
- The fan guide ends with a code of conduct for fans, encouraging them to come and have a good time, but basically to not act like a fool. Wearing blue and white is encouraged, which I’m glad it says that, because at times looking around the stadium, you see a rainbow of colors. C’mon people, wear UConn colors. You just look stupid and will definitately be chastized by me in my head.
Forget the last three years of UConn Football. Prototypes, wallpapers, GDL, Hathaway, Towson, etc. never happened. As far as I’m concerned, I don’t recall anything from the last 3 years other than Smallwood ripping people’s faces off. Edsall left, and it took us 3 years to find the right guy to replace him. I linked this video tonight because I want UConn Football fans to remember that feeling after the Fiesta Bowl. We are the fastest up and coming D1 program in history. We have a BCS bowl appearance under our belts. Two Conference championships. Multiple All-Americans & NFL draftees. Fast forward over the Pasqualoni era to this year. (Fast forward over 00:32-00:34 if you really can’t stand to be reminded of the man). We’re still a growing program, and I believe Coach D can steer this thing back in the right direction. Bowl game or bust this year. We’ve waited three LONG years. My energy bucket is filling up rapidly. 38 days!
P.S. This is a screenshot of my phone that has the countdown. Just a basic countdown app. I can’t freakin wait!
Coach Ollie had Ricky Moore with him from the beginning to the end of the second live period. They started it off at the Under Armour Association Finals in Atlanta, Georgia. They were in attendance to watch 2015 C Diamond Stone and 2015 SF Derrick Jones among possible others.
Kevin Ollie was once again watching his top target Diamond Stone play at the beginning of the day. After that game he moved on to watch 2016 PG Jaylen Fisher who received an offer from the staff shortly thereafter. Coach may have caught another one of Stone’s games before leaving but I’m not sure if he was able to.
Ollie then made the trip to watch his lone 2015 commit PG Jalen Adams at the Peach State Summer Showcase in Augusta, Georgia. Ollie also watched 2015 C Jean Marc Koumadje Thursday night as well. I believe the Ricky Moore was with Ollie all day.
Head coach Kevin Ollie once again started the day at the Under Armour Association Finals this time watching 2017 PG Troy Brown. After the completion of that game coaches sights were once again set on Diamond Stone for another one of his games.
Coach Ollie once again left Atlanta and headed back to Peach State once again to watch Jalen Adams and Jean Marc Koumadje.
Ollie then left and headed to North Augusta, South Carolina for the Nike Peach Jam. Ollie had plenty of time to watch one of the night games but it’s unclear if he did because he wasn’t spotted at any of the games. Ollie had coach Moore with him all day again.
On Saturday coach Ollie and coach Moore joined Glenn Miller at the Peach Jam and the Nike Elite Youth Invitational, the tournament for all of the EYBL teams that didn’t qualify for the Peach Jam. Miller was likely there from the beginning on the line period watching various recruits. Recruits who they were watching there were 2015 SF Chris Clarke, 2015 SG Malik Beasley, 2016 SG Tyus Battle, 2015 PG Isaiah Briscoe, 2016 SG Malik Monk, 2015 SG Prince Ali, and 2016 PF Kassoum Yakwe among many, many other UConn targets.
Coach Ollie came home early in the morning and didn’t watch any of the the semifinal games in the morning. I believe at least one assistant stayed for the games on Sunday.
The first live period was a busy and travel filled session for the staff. However, things went just as expected.
Coach Ollie started off in Philadelphia at the Rebook Breakout Classic watching the staff’s top overall target, 2015 C Diamond Stone, right away. Ollie was joined by two assistants to go full staff for that game showing exactly how much they want him. Also in that game were class of 2016 studs PG Derryck Thornton Jr. and SG Tyus Battle. After that game Kevin Ollie then set his sights on 2015 PF Steven Enoch and 2015 C Jean Marc Koumadje. Koumadje later received an offer that night from coach Ollie. To finish up his night Ollie watched 2015 SF Derrick Jones and 2016 SF Vance Jackson.
At the same time Ollie was wrapping up his night Ricky Moore was watching 2015 C Chance Comanche and 2017 PF Ira Lee.
Fifteen hours after the live period started Kevin Ollie found himself watching his number one priority again just like he was in the first hour. In addition to Diamond Stone in that game Ollie was also watching Vance Jackson again. Following that game Ollie watched Derrick Jones and Jean Marc Koumadje again. Throughout the rest of the day Ollie watched Diamond Stone, Steven Enoch, Derryck Thornton Jr., and Tyus Battle each one more time before heading off to Vegas.
Throughout the day on Thursday Karl Hobbs was at the Adidas Uprising. Some notable recruits he was watching there were UConn commit Jalen Adams, Josh Sharma, D’Marcus Simonds, Deng Adel, Carlton Bragg, Rawle Alkins, Makai Ashton-Langford, Wenyen Gabriel among others.
Coach Ollie spent Friday in Vegas at the Lebron James Skills Academy watching various recruits. Some guys he could have been keeping an eye on are Jalen Brunson, Jayson Tatum, Malik Monk, Malik Newman, Prince Ali, Isaiah Briscoe, Malik Beasley, V.J. King, Cody Riley, Eric Davis, Noah Dickerson, and Ted Kapita among others.
Coach Hobbs was once again at Adidas Uprising in Chicago.
I believe the staff stayed where they were on Saturday.
Lebron’s camp ended on Saturday and he wasn’t spotted anywhere on Sunday. He could very well have been somewhere but he was reported anywhere.
Coach Hobbs and Moore spent the day at Elite32 watching Diamond Stone, Eli Wright and
Jaylen Fisher among others.
What’s up folks? We’re at that point in the summer where football news is at a minimum. Recruiting is going through a dead period, camp hasn’t started yet, and nobody is on campus. We’re 46 days away from BYU. 46 DAYS!!! This cannot come soon enough. Those of us diehards have suffered long enough.
The 3 game winning streak at the end of the year left a lot of us excited about the upcoming season. Add to that a new, energetic, exciting, young coach to lead the team has generated a buzz that we haven’t seen in a few years for UConn Football. I’m going to hold off on season predictions until the players go through camp, because you never know what can happen. But I will share a few things I’m looking forward to this upcoming season.
1.) Diaco – Obviously. I love everything about this guy. However, the 800lb gorilla in the room is can this guy win games? All the talk is great, but we need a winning season. I’m hoping he does it THIS season. I want a bowl game, period.
2.) Geremy Davis – Was a bright spot on a dreadful offense last year. Cannot wait to see the numbers Geremy puts up this year. He’s a matchup nightmare, and hopefully the staff will utilize him properly and get him the ball. A lot.
3.) Strength & Conditioning of Players - Countless times last season we looked smaller than our opponents and much more tired late in games. I’m very interested in seeing the differences in this year’s team. I really can’t wait for the updated weights to come out to see if some of our linemen have grown under this new program.
4.) The Gameday Experience – Tailgating at the Rent is top-notch. But I’m curious to see if how the changes Diaco mentioned will actually change the experience we all are so used to. I’m guilty of getting to my seat late in order to indulge in that extra burger or beverage before we head in. Clearly, I’m not the only one. I’m interested to see if these changes entice people to get to their seats earlier.
5.) BYU – Did I mention it’s only 46 days away? Look, we have a good program coming to East Hartford on a Friday Night national TV game on ESPN. What about this does not get you pumped? Don’t be a debbie downer and moan that they aren’t a P5 school, they aren’t a top 10 team, I hate Warde, blah blah blah. Enough already. New coach, new era. Get up for this game. Fill those energy buckets, and start this new era out right.
UCONN head coach Bob Diaco received the 11th commitment for the 2015 recruiting class on Saturday and it came in the form of 6’ 2” defensive back John Robinson IV, who attends Dwight Morrow High School (Englewood, NJ). He becomes the fifth player pulled from Rutgers’ own backyard and this one could be special folks.
Once again, we are talking size, athleticism, intelligence and most importantly, character. The theme that continues with Robinson IV’s commitment is making the 2015 class one that fans are really going to want to root for; not only because they will be representing Connecticut in the national flag blue and white, but because of who these individuals are as people, but we will get to that in a moment.
First off, why did Robinson IV, whose main recruiters were defensive coordinator and safeties coach Anthony Poindexter, recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach Kevin Wolfhausen and cornerbacks coach and co-special teams coordinator Josh Reardon, choose UCONN?
“They recruited me for a while,” Robinson IV communicated over the phone this evening. “UCONN sent a lot of letters and I heard from the coaches quite a bit. When Coach Poindexter came to see me, it really put UCONN in my head. They offered me in early June and two weeks later I was there on a visit. That’s when I met Coach Reardon and it was then that it all set in that UCONN is the place for me. The distance is not too far and I really want to play for this coaching staff.”
The campus and facilities didn’t hurt either.
“I loved the campus, it’s big, but at the same time it’s not overwhelming that I’ll get lost there. The football complex is awesome,” the defensive back continued raising his voice in approval. “The indoor field, I loved it. That place can compete with any other FBS, 1-A school; it was the best I have seen.”
The soon-to-be senior was receiving a lot of interest from Rutgers, Maryland, Virginia, Cincinnati, Temple, Albany and UNH.
His high school coach, Barry Harris, was a part of the recruiting process from the get-go.
“As with all of our athletes here, I was very involved when the UCONN coaches came,” Harris said over the phone this evening. “I want the best for all of my players and I like to give them the best insight from my perspective. This was Coach Diaco’s second time down here, [referring to Diaco’s recruitment of 6’ 4” WR Julius Wingate, who committed to Stony Brook for 2014]. John was THE guy that Coach Diaco wanted early on at UCONN and when he finally got his staff together, he sent Coach Poindexter and Coach Wolfhausen down. They were both completely up front with myself and John. They highlighted the plan they have for him and the high quality program they plan on building with really intelligent kids.”
“Coach Poindexter really believes in him,” Harris added. “He told him, ‘I can bring you to where you want to be as a top player.’ He was honest and made it known that John wasn’t just another player for them, they plan on him being something special. You know, John is like a son to me and having kids of my own, I needed to have trust in the staff where he was headed and I really do.”
Coach Harris originally met John six years ago when the defensive back was playing junior football for the Englewood feeder program.
“He’s always been a good worker on the field,” Harris said. “He’s such a great leader. John’s always been a strong athlete on the field, as well as in the classroom. He does everything you need to be successful.”
“He’s really grown into a great player in the game of football,” he continued. “He’s always had the drive to play football at a high level, always working on his craft as both a wide receiver and defensive back. He’s in a program that has seen a lot of successful players come through it, so when he saw those kids having success, he followed what they did and now here he is, going to a top program.”
The defensive back, who also runs track, started playing corner his junior year. Having only played safety prior, mostly due to his size, his coach decided to bring him up closer to the line, as that’s where he wants his best athletes.
“It’s rare for a guy that’s 6’ 2” to be a lock down corner and such a great tackler,” the third year coach at Dwight Morrow continued. “He’s a student of the game and really studies his opponents. He’s such a leader that when he’s watching film, he has his teammates in there with him. He’s so athletic, runs a 10.9 100-meter, 22.9 200-meter and is under 50 in the 400-meter. He has the speed and can cover in open space. I never have to worry about giving him help over the top when he’s one-on-one because he’s such a sure tackler. You always know the ball carrier is going down.”
Robinson IV, who added he’s run a 4.5 40, picked up where his head coach left off.
“Playing corner really helped me become a better football player. I’m a really long kid, so it’s not hard for me to cover the big receivers. I also have the speed that it isn’t a problem to stick with the small guys either. I use my length to my advantage, I have the speed and I take pride in my technique and ball skills. I just love playing that position.”
“There’s no doubt the coaches want me to play corner when I get to UCONN,” he went on. “What really sold the staff, in my opinion, was when Coach Poindexter came down and saw that I was really 6’ 2”. A lot of times when coaches see the heights listed on Hudl or Rivals, it’s not accurate. But they really fell in love with me when they saw that my size was true. I remember my first meeting with Coach Reardon, the first thing he did was measure my length. He really loved my size overall and reinforced that they will keep me at corner because of that.”
The football field, however, is not the only place where the talented athlete excels.
“John is in a special academy here, a high-end academic program, that in order to get into you need to be tested and go through an interview process,” his coach explained. “He’s been taking all honors classes in that program since his freshman year, always getting solid grades. He’s just doing a great job academically.”
The classroom is not where it ends, however, as the defensive back is actively involved in his community.
“He’s one of our campus leaders and is heavily involved in a group that was formed for violence against women. He’s one of our greatest leaders in the community outreach program where he helps guide the junior players and the young kids really look up to him. UCONN is getting a great student athlete.”
“A lot of it was how I was raised,” Robinson IV responded. “My grandmother got me involved in a number of church groups, helping the poor and tutoring kids. It keeps me active as I really don’t like sitting around, to me that’s boring. It was always because I liked doing it. My mom put me in a lot of community programs when I was young and it was just something I’ve enjoyed since then.”
During the conversation with Coach Harris, the new UCONN commit was hard at work in the gym, something he has become addicted to since he started growing.
“I just want to always up my game and be in the weight room, working out. I spent the whole winter training, putting on weight. I ran indoor track and played basketball for my school so really the only day off for me were Saturday’s. All of it is to become a better athlete. I had to get in the gym when I started growing really quickly. I had some issues adjusting to my body so I had to get stronger to keep up and I’ve never left.”
During practice at Dwight Morrow, Robinson IV has been able to go against two Division I wide receivers, in Wingate, mentioned above, and Maryland’s Juwann Winfree (his cousin), who received twenty (20) scholarship offers from top programs around the nation. That has enabled the corner to practice hard and challenge himself every day.
Finally, there is Coach Diaco, who has left quite an impression with every commit and coaching staff this recruiting season.
“Coach Diaco has such a great background. When you get a coach, who has the experiences he has from his time at Notre Dame, to come down here for John, it was great for us and our program,” Harris said. “He’s a high integrity, football guy and his players are really interested in him. He wasn’t coming to our school just for Coach Diaco, he was coming here to get a very, very good player to help build a nationally ranked program and John wants to be a part of that.”
“Coach Diaco is a great man,” Robinson IV added. “I want to play under him. The first time I spoke to him was when I got the offer. He shared a lot, how UCONN was a good place to be, the academics, his plan for the program. He let me know that I was one of their primary targets and the fact that he’s bringing a lot of new life to UCONN, I want to be a part of that. When I committed, I could tell him and his staff were really excited, so that helped reinforce that I made the right decision.”
So has the feedback he has gotten from the rest of the 2015 class.
“I know Ben Hartwick, who committed before me, we’ve met before and we actually play each against each other the second game of the season, so that will be fun. I’ve also talked to DB Aaron Garland since my commitment, DT Kevin Murphy, and OLB Connor Freeborn, as well.”
“The one who was on me the most to get to UCONN though, was QB Tyler Davis. I haven’t met him in person yet, but from the moment he got on me about UCONN, he didn’t give me a second to breathe. I was already thinking about committing, but he really confirmed what was already in my head. He was jacked, for sure, when I let him know. It’s all really reinforced my decision.”
Whether or not this class translates into wins and championships remains to be seen, but the one thing that can be guaranteed, is this class is going to develop into a strong and cohesive team, something that has Coach Diaco, written all over it.
Fans will be fans during the offseason as there was some concern drummed up from a tweet by commit Kevin Murphy earlier today, where he mentioned he received an elite camp invite that would take place at Oklahoma.
To calm all of your nerves, here are some words from Murphy, who sent the following via text message this afternoon:
“I just wanted to show the fans that UCONN is getting awesome players that are ready to win championships! I’m all UCONN! All the guys in this class are awesome players and there is more to come! Go HUSKIES!”
Murphy also reinforced he will not be attending the camp in Norman, OK.
For most people Mondays are always negative. However, yesterday coach Ollie had tons of extra pep in his step, to host 2015 SF Derrick Jones nonetheless for a visit, as did every big UConn fan. 2015 PG Jalen Adams, who some have called Shabazz 2.0, decided to verbally commit to UConn. He broke the news by tweeting out, “I Have Officially Decided That I Will Continue To Pursue My Dream At The University Of Connecticut And Play For Coach Kevin Ollie #Huskies.”
Hailing from Roxbury, Massachusetts the superbly talented lead guard has been rising tons in the rankings this summer. His AAU team, Mass Rivals, was undefeated in the Adidas Gauntlet with him playing for them. Adams averaged 22.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists in his nine games on the gauntlet this summer. He’s only getting better at this point and he’s the perfect fit for coach Ollie’s offensive style which was one of the main reasons why he committed to UConn. What he said factored into his decision was, “The coaching staff and definitely the style of play. I just knew I’d fit well in the style of play and it’s not to far from home. It would be a good fit for me.”
Eric Bossi describes Adams as, “A gifted scorer with a big-time first step and loads of confidence, Adams is more combo guard than true point guard. But, he sees the court very well and if his teammates get open, he will find them.” Adams describes himself similarly saying, “I’m a scorer and a person that can create for others.” UConn has done great with point guards and he certainly has the looks of being the next. I also asked him what the staff was telling him he was going to come in and do, “Just come in and pretty much lead the team.”
He also mentioned the coaching staff a a major reason why he committed. Coach Ollie has been without a doubt the top guy on UConn’s wish list. Ollie and his staff had been following everywhere he has gone for the past year and there’s no doubt there’s a great relationship between the two. “Coach Ollie is just the man, plus he’s been in the NBA for several years. He’s played with some of the best players in the game and he knows what it takes to get there and how to stay there. His staff just had my best at heart and I felt a close connection with them,” he explained.
Being from Massachusetts and attending school at Cushing Academy it’s not a far ride to campus which means it’s easy for him to take a visit. He’s been on campus many times including very recently and for this past years First Night, UConn’s Midnight Madness. I caught up with him after First Night and he had this to say about it, “I had a good time. It was fun. I really liked the intros and the scrimmage.” Well Jalen, in a year and a few months you will be one of the players out on the court for the first time in UConn blue and white. As for the campus in general Jalen described it as, “It’s beautiful, campus is big, it’s like a town. The facilities are top notch and the new practice facility is beautiful.”
Jalen also has something to say to UConn fans that they will definitely like. His message, “2015 is going to be a special year.”