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August 21, 2007

Quick hits: True freshmen ready to play

Click HERE for additional UConn football camp coverage.

STORRS, Conn. - With the Huskies reeling in arguably one of their best recruiting classes to date this fall and decisions looming this weekend as to which players will crack the two-deep, the choice as to who will be a redshirt candidate and who won't be will also be a topic of discussion.

As of right now, there is no choice but for the coaching staff to redshirt two freshmen - wide receiver Isiah Moore and tight end Yianni Apostolakos, both of whom will be out for the season with a shoulder injury. Head coach Randy Edsall has also stated this preseason his preference to redshirt offensive linemen, which seemingly leaves Gary Bardzak, Muhammad Petrus and Mike Ryan out of the mix in 2007.

But there have been others who have shown they can compete with the rest of the team, including Greg Lloyd, who got an increased look with the first team late last week in practice when weakside linebacker Ryan Henegan first went down with a knee injury. Edsall said Tuesday that Lloyd will likely see some playing time this season even though Lawrence Wilson has apparently taken the job, especially if Henegan is unable to play for a long period of time.

"Greg's going to have to get ready to contribute, I think, this year," Edsall said.

Other players who might be able to sneak into the starting rotation include kicker Dave Teggart, who Edsall said has a chance to beat out Tony Ciaravino for the starting job on field goals and extra points; Jasper Howard, who has gotten increased looks with the punt and kick return units; and freshmen running backs Robbie Frey and Kelmetrus Wylie, both of whom have stepped up in the absence of Andre Dixon, who was suspended for an undisclosed violation of team rules along with Corey Stringer last week, and Lou Allen, who took the day off by a prearranged meeting with Edsall and the coaches.

"Those two guys, we're going to have to get both of those guys ready to play early in the season," Edsall said. "By keeping Lou out just letting him refresh himself a little bit, it allows us to get those guys a little more work and see what they can do."

Receiving the load: With four wide receivers seemingly in the fast lane for a starting role - D.J. Hernandez, Terence Jeffers, Brad Kanuch and Larry Taylor - all got a chance to show what they could hold with the first team Tuesday afternoon.

Edsall has previously stated that he would like to have at least six players be able to fill in any role in the receiving corps, leaving two spots open for nearly any of the other eight available wide receivers listed on the roster. But he did point to the availability of each of his four starters in picking a role and moving back and forth between them.

"They're smart, they understand what they're doing and we can interchange any number of those guys in positions and in sets and that's the good thing that we do have that with the four guys," Edsall said.

Mum's the word: When asked about the extent of Henegan's knee injury, Edsall declined to comment, instead firing back a response about his preference not to talk about specific cases.

"I'm not going to talk a lot about injuries this year, guys," Edsall said. "And I'm not trying to be a jerk about it or anything, you know. He's just day-to-day and we'll just leave it at that."

Henegan, who entered camp as the starting weakside linebacker, was hurt during a closed practice last week and has been limping around with a bulky knee brace and compression sleeve since. He spent most of Tuesday's practice in and out of the weight room and resting on the sidelines.

Other hits: It appears junior cornerback Terry Baltimore is in the driver's seat for the role as the third cornerback on nickel coverage. Baltimore is behind behind Darius Butler and Tyvon Branch on the depth chart. … Edsall is impressed with the level of commitment Cody Brown has put into the program since the spring, when he was excused from weekday practices in order to attend to his academics. One of the biggest improvements, he said, was in the weight room, where Brown has gotten stronger. Edsall said he has a "lot of upside" as a junior defensive end. … Dahna Deleston is a "different young man" since returning to the team for preseason drills. Deleston, dismissed from the school due to academic reasons, returned this month after passing summer classes he enrolled in as a non-degree student. … Offensive lineman Lawrence Green is "not a finished product," but has all the tools to reach success on the offensive line.

What time is it? Game time! The athletic department officially announced Tuesday afternoon that the home opener against Maine Sept. 8 would kick off at 7 p.m. The time, while agreed to in principle several weeks ago, had proceeded through talks about television coverage for some time. The outlet carrying the game at this time is unknown.

Zac Boyer covers UConn sports for Rivals.com. He can be reached at zacboyer@gmail.com.


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