DT Stephen Has Sprained Knee

STORRS – Defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, projected as a starter on Connecticut's preseason depth chart, has a sprained knee and was scheduled to have an MRI Tuesday night. UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni said the duration of Stephen's absence wouldn't be known until the results from the MRI are disclosed.

Stephen, a redshirt junior, is currently the biggest member of UConn's defensive line at 6-foot-5 and 317 pounds. Stephen was injured during Monday's practice – which was not open to the media. He spent Tuesday's practice in the injury tent, away from the practice fields.

The preseason depth chart shows Stephen starting at one tackle spot and red-shirt senior Ryan Wirth at the other tackle. The Huskies are trying to replace four-year lettermen Kendall Reyes and Twyon Martin from last year's team.

Stephen played in 12 games last year and recorded 17 tackles (seven solo). He had one sack. Stephen made his first start Sept. 19, 2010 against Temple and had 27 tackles that season.

"I'm optimistic it's not going to be a long, drawn-out deal," Pasqualoni said. "We're going to miss him, but we'll know more [after the MRI] exactly what grade sprain it is – somewhere around a level 2."

A grade 2 knee sprain translates to partial tearing of ligament tissue and mild instability of the joint.

UConn does have depth on the defensive line. Sophomore Angelo Pruitt (6-3, 296) worked with the first squad Tuesday and was opposite senior Ryan Wirth (6-3, 271), who is projected as the other starter on the depth chart. Sophomore B.J. McBryde (6-5, 301) is another option.

"Angelo is a young player, a work in progress," Pasqualoni said. "He's got a lot of ability, just doesn't have a lot of experience. He didn't play last year, but he's got a lot of tools. You've got to push him; get him ready to go.

"We've got Wirth, we've got Angelo and B.J. McBryde. We've got the two young dogs, (redshirt freshman) Julian Campenni and (true freshman) Mykal Myers, who I'm impressed with. Mykal kind of handles his business and doesn't say very much but after five practices, he's shown to be a capable guy."

More depth was on the way with recent commit Andreas Knappe scheduled to arrive from Denmark Tuesday night. Knappe is 6-9 and 310 pounds. It is not known when he will practice with the team for the first time.

Pasqualoni summed it up by saying the Huskies need to "keep a lot of ice on Shamar and get him back as fast as we can."


Tuesday's practice was UConn's first in full pads. Pasqualoni said he was pleased with the effort. . . . Reserve quarterback Scott McCummings remains absent, but excused by Pasqualoni to deal with personal matters. Pasqualoni said he will know more about McCummings' status in "a couple of days." . . . Linebacker Yawin Smallwood, who did not participate in the first practice Friday, was back to full participation Tuesday. . . . The media has been allowed in for only two of five practices but sophomore quarterback Michael Nebrich has thrown the ball very well in both and seems to have a strong hold on the No. 2 spot behind Chandler Whitmer. . . . The Huskies worked on their two-minute drill at the end of practice. . . . Linebacker Sio Moore was wearing a green cross jersey and very limited. Said Pasqualoni: "Those guys with green on have some sort of nagging thing. There's certain things I let them do and certain things I won't let them do. [Moore] moved pretty good today." . . . Tuesday was the first of three practices that are open to the public. The other dates are Aug. 14 (3-5:30 p.m.) and Aug. 18 (8:45-11:15 a.m.) . . . Two-sport recruit Jordan Fuchs will visit the UConn football program Wednesday. Fuchs is being pursued primarily as a power forward in basketball but also plays wide receiver.

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