Nebrich's Departure Surprised Coaches

STORRS – Sophomore quarterback Michael Nebrich took the Connecticut coaching staff by surprise this week with his decision to transfer. Nebrich practiced on Tuesday but walked into the football office Wednesday morning and told coach Paul Pasqualoni he wanted to go somewhere he could play right away.

"He surprised me in the sense that he has been so upbeat, practicing so well, and making so much progress," Pasqualoni said Friday at UConn media day. "He looked great.

"He looked bigger, he looked faster and he was throwing the ball well. He worked on it and Coach (Shane) Day was spending extra time with him every day.

"The kid was just thirsty for as much as he could get. He said, ‘Coach, I just want to go play someplace."

No word yet on where Nebrich will end up. Fordham is one possibility.

Pasqualoni does expect sophomore quarterback Scott McCummings to return to the team next week. McCummings has been granted an excused absence by Pasqualoni and has yet to practice with the Huskies.

UConn had its first scrimmage Thursday. It was not open to the media. Pasqualoni said he hopes McCummings will be in camp in time for the next scrimmage. Pasqualoni doesn't feel McCummings will be too far behind when he arrives, adding that Day, the UConn quarterbacks coach, will have an accelerated course prepared for him to help him catch up.

Right now, Chandler Whitmer remains the choice as starting quarterback for the Huskies, who open the season Aug. 30 against UMass at Rentschler Field. Freshman Casey Cochran remains "banged up" with his broken left wrist. He is taking snaps and throwing the ball, but not taking snaps under center. Johnny McEntee, last year's starter, remains the No. 2 guy.

Pasqualoni also commented on how good it is to have senior Blaise Driscoll at the position. "Blaise is very smart and he knows the system."

More notes from media day:

Pasqualoni said he is happy with the progress of defensive tackle Shamar Stephen, who sprained a knee in practice Monday. "It's unfortunate Shamar Stephen got hurt but he is making very good progress and has responded very positively to treatment. I can't put a timetable on his return but I would say that he is making very good progress so we are optimistic there." . . . Pasqualoni said tailback Lyle McCombs, who was UConn's offense last year with 1,151 yards rushing, needs to guard against a sophomore slump. "I'm really not concerned about [a slump]," McCombs said. "My focus is whatever play is called in the huddle I'm going to do my job and take it one play at a time." . . . McCombs is excited about receiver Michael Smith returning to the offense after as season off because of academic problems. "He's a guy that makes plays, runs disciplined routes and knows the playbook," McCombs said. "I think he's ready to go out [big] for his last year." . . . Replacing kicker Dave Teggart is one of the priorities of the preseason camp. Pasqualoni said Friday that junior Chad Christen would be the placekicker right now. Highly-touted freshman Bobby Puyol is second at that spot right now. We will have an in-depth look at that battle next week. . . Fullback Matt Walsh from Daniel Hand High (Madison, Conn.) visited UConn Friday morning and committed to the Huskies. Walsh (6-1, 228) got the offer on Thursday and was eager to play for the Huskies. Check out the story by Brian Dohn that is posted on the Connecticut Home page. . . . Two-sport recruit Jordan Fuchs from New York City had to postpone his visit to UConn Wednesday and is now expected Saturday. Fuchs is a highly pursued power forward in basketball but UConn likes him at wide receiver. . . . Pasqualoni after one week of practice: "Things are going well for us. The guys are working very hard and we are getting a great deal accomplished. The guys are practicing with a high level of focus and attention, so that part of it is going very well." . . . Linebacker on teammate and defensive end Travardo Williams: "He and I are in a race every practice to see which one of us gets to the quarterback first."

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