Scout TV: Mr. Versatile

STORRS – The receiving corps for the Connecticut football team features some new faces and lots of potential, but senior Nick Williams is making it clear he won't be left out of the equation.

Williams turned some heads Saturday during UConn's practice and scrimmage at the Shenkman Training Center, especially when he hauled in a long touchdown pass from quarterback Chandler Whitmer. Whitmer fired a sideline pass that made it over the extended arms of Blidi Wreh-Wilson. And Williams caught the ball in stride for the longest play of the day.

"We had been running the ball a lot and the defense got a little aggressive," said Williams, who lined up at one of the outside receiver spots rather than usual spot in the slot. "We ran a deep ball to kind of loosen them up a bit and wound up converting it."

Williams, one of the most explosive return men in college football, was UConn's fifth leading receiver in 2011 with 11 receptions for 236 yards. But most – if not all – of those catches came from the slot position. Injuries to wideouts Geremy Davis, Shakim Phillips and Kamal Abrams during the spring opened the opportunity for Williams to try some new things.

Coach Paul Pasqualoni said Williams is learning multiple positions and doesn't need to be a "role player" for the Huskies during his final season.

"That ball today was a ball thrown to an outside receiver not an inside receiver," Pasqualoni said. "He's learning the whole thing. He's playing a lot of positions – which is good for him. Once he understands, then we can do anything we want with him. But I want him to understand the whole big picture. I don't want him to be just this guy who plays in the slot."

That is fine with Williams.

"We're getting quality reps out of it, so I'm learning a couple more positions and I think it has helped me develop as a receiver," he said.

Senior receivers Isiah Moore and Kashif Moore, both had over 40 receptions for UConn last season and tight end Ryan Griffin hauled in 33. With senior Michael Smith back after not playing last season and Phillips ready to play after transferring from Boston College, there will be intense competition for the receiver spots. Davis and Tebucky Jones also return for their sophomore seasons.

"I'm just trying to be as versatile as possible," Williams said. "It's a lot of fun. This way I can be in in multiple sets and the defense won't be able to get a solid read on what we're trying to do. It will make us a little more versatile."

Before the TD pass Saturday, Williams picked up a decent gain on an end-around play. Johnny McEntee almost hit Williams on another long gainer but the pass sailed over Williams' head and out of bounds.

UConn is still searching for a starting quarterback out of a candidate pool of five. Williams laughed and refused to cast his vote for one over the others.

"I'm not going to commit," he said. "They're all playing well. Each practice you expect one to emerge but they're all pretty even."

LOOKING FOR CARRIES

The Huskies need a tough running back who bounce off defenders, run like a tank, and still demonstrate the ability to get yards outside. Max DeLorenzo, the redshirt freshman tailback from Berlin High, looked like that guy Saturday.

DeLorenzo had several impressive runs and he showed it takes more than an average effort to bring him down.

"The line was great and when I saw daylight, I just took off," DeLorenzo said.

Pasqualoni certainly noticed.

"I thought Max DeLorenzo showed that he's got a little wiggle, a little power and he can run the ball," Pasqualoni said. "He kind of showed what he showed in high school here today. That was great to see."

Last season Lyle McCombs was a rushing workhorse for the Huskies. It might not have to be that way next season. Pasqualoni was praising freshman tailback Joe Williams last week and now DeLorenzo is showing off his talent.

"I don't know what their roles will be but we've got to figure out who can play first," Pasqualoni said. "It's just good to see some production."

With D.J. Shoemate on the sideline with his left arm in a sling after shoulder surgery last week, the news couldn't have come at a better time for the Huskies. It will be some time before UConn knows Shoemate's status for next season.

REPS FOR NEBRICH

Michael Nebrich and Casey Cochran got a lot of work at quarterback during the Saturday scrimmage. "Mike probably got a few more reps today because of some of the wildcats stuff, because he's a wildcat guy and Scotty [McCummings] has still got that bad toe so he defintiely [did] but other than that it was scripted pretty much," Pasqualoni said. Nebrich ran into the end zone for one touchdown and his offense and his team followed him into the end zone jumping up and down. That didn't please the defensive unit, especially linebacker Sio Moore, who looked like he wanted to throw a flag for excessive celebration. . . . The coaches may not be ready to name a starting QB, but Chandler Whitmer continues to be the guy who throws the best ball. . . . Next fall when you see the Huskies execute the tip drill on defense, think back to spring ball and April 14. Linebacker Yawin Smallwood showed the defense how to do it, batting a Cochran pass into the air and then pulling it in for the interception. . . . It's safe to say that defensive coordinator Don Brown and defensive line coach Hank Hughes are in midseason form. Lots of yelling and lots screaming – even at the officials. . . . UConn will hold the annual Blue-White game next Saturday at Rentschler Field. Pasqualoni said the game will feature four quarters and he hopes to put the Huskies through 70 to 80 plays. "It will be more of a personnel evaluation day, we won't try to make it complicated at all, we can see the older guys and younger guys just come out of the huddle, get lined up and play and see how far they've come fundamentally," he said. "So that's kind of what the theme of that scrimmage will be next week."


UCONN Playbook Top Stories

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Williams turned some heads Saturday during UConn's practice and scrimmage at the Shenkman Training Center, especially when he hauled in a long touchdown pass from quarterback Chandler Whitmer. Whitmer fired a sideline pass that made it over the extended arms of Blidi Wreh-Wilson. And Williams caught the ball in stride for the longest play of the day.

\"We had been running the ball a lot and the defense got a little aggressive,\" said Williams, who lined up at one of the outside receiver spots rather than usual spot in the slot. \"We ran a deep ball to kind of loosen them up a bit and wound up converting it.\"

Williams, one of the most explosive return men in college football, was UConn's fifth leading receiver in 2011 with 11 receptions for 236 yards. But most – if not all – of those catches came from the slot position. Injuries to wideouts Geremy Davis, Shakim Phillips and Kamal Abrams during the spring opened the opportunity for Williams to try some new things.

Coach Paul Pasqualoni said Williams is learning multiple positions and doesn't need to be a \"role player\" for the Huskies during his final season.

\"That ball today was a ball thrown to an outside receiver not an inside receiver,\" Pasqualoni said. \"He's learning the whole thing. He's playing a lot of positions – which is good for him. Once he understands, then we can do anything we want with him. But I want him to understand the whole big picture. I don't want him to be just this guy who plays in the slot.\"

That is fine with Williams.

\"We're getting quality reps out of it, so I'm learning a couple more positions and I think it has helped me develop as a receiver,\" he said.

Senior receivers Isiah Moore and Kashif Moore, both had over 40 receptions for UConn last season and tight end Ryan Griffin hauled in 33. With senior Michael Smith back after not playing last season and Phillips ready to play after transferring from Boston College, there will be intense competition for the receiver spots. Davis and Tebucky Jones also return for their sophomore seasons.

\"I'm just trying to be as versatile as possible,\" Williams said. \"It's a lot of fun. This way I can be in in multiple sets and the defense won't be able to get a solid read on what we're trying to do. It will make us a little more versatile.\"

Before the TD pass Saturday, Williams picked up a decent gain on an end-around play. Johnny McEntee almost hit Williams on another long gainer but the pass sailed over Williams' head and out of bounds.

UConn is still searching for a starting quarterback out of a candidate pool of five. Williams laughed and refused to cast his vote for one over the others.

\"I'm not going to commit,\" he said. \"They're all playing well. Each practice you expect one to emerge but they're all pretty even.\"

The Huskies need a tough running back who bounce off defenders, run like a tank, and still demonstrate the ability to get yards outside. Max DeLorenzo, the redshirt freshman tailback from Berlin High, looked like that guy Saturday.

DeLorenzo had several impressive runs and he showed it takes more than an average effort to bring him down.

\"The line was great and when I saw daylight, I just took off,\" DeLorenzo said.

Pasqualoni certainly noticed.

\"I thought Max DeLorenzo showed that he's got a little wiggle, a little power and he can run the ball,\" Pasqualoni said. \"He kind of showed what he showed in high school here today. That was great to see.\"

Last season Lyle McCombs was a rushing workhorse for the Huskies. It might not have to be that way next season. Pasqualoni was praising freshman tailback Joe Williams last week and now DeLorenzo is showing off his talent.

\"I don't know what their roles will be but we've got to figure out who can play first,\" Pasqualoni said. \"It's just good to see some production.\"

With D.J. Shoemate on the sideline with his left arm in a sling after shoulder surgery last week, the news couldn't have come at a better time for the Huskies. It will be some time before UConn knows Shoemate's status for next season.

Michael Nebrich and Casey Cochran got a lot of work at quarterback during the Saturday scrimmage. \"Mike probably got a few more reps today because of some of the wildcats stuff, because he's a wildcat guy and Scotty [McCummings] has still got that bad toe so he defintiely [did] but other than that it was scripted pretty much,\" Pasqualoni said. Nebrich ran into the end zone for one touchdown and his offense and his team followed him into the end zone jumping up and down. That didn't please the defensive unit, especially linebacker Sio Moore, who looked like he wanted to throw a flag for excessive celebration. . . . The coaches may not be ready to name a starting QB, but Chandler Whitmer continues to be the guy who throws the best ball. . . . Next fall when you see the Huskies execute the tip drill on defense, think back to spring ball and April 14. Linebacker Yawin Smallwood showed the defense how to do it, batting a Cochran pass into the air and then pulling it in for the interception. . . . It's safe to say that defensive coordinator Don Brown and defensive line coach Hank Hughes are in midseason form. Lots of yelling and lots screaming – even at the officials. . . . UConn will hold the annual Blue-White game next Saturday at Rentschler Field. 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