Big East Media Day

NEWPORT, R.I. – The University of Connecticut football team brought six players, all captains, to Big East Media Day on Tuesday, but it was a couple of players who weren't there that was all the talk.

The Huskies open up summer camp on Aug. 5 and with it the quarterback competition between Tyler Lorenzen and Dennis Brown begins.
 
The Huskies were picked to finish a distant seventh in the Big East preseason media poll ahead of only Syracuse and that is largely due to the uncertainty at quarterback. The Huskies have struggled for two years at the position since Dan Orlovsky left after the 2004 season and the most experienced quarterback on the roster is D.J. Hernandez, who was switched to wideout this spring.
 
Lorenzen and Brown didn't throw a pass for the Huskies last season and as the quarterback position goes, so goes the Huskies.
 
"That is the whole key to it," UConn head coach Randy Edsall said. "You have to have someone pull the trigger. Someone who can be consistent and make plays and do all the things you want to do and keeps you away from the bad plays. He doesn't have to be Superman, but he has to be a guy who makes plays and goes where he wants to go."
 
Brown appeared in two games in 2005 as true freshman passing for 293 yards and two touchdowns. He sat out last season as a redshirt. Lorenzen, who is a transfer from Palomar Community College in California, passed for 2,960 yards, 26 touchdowns and three interceptions and was a J.C. Gridwire All-America selection. Lorenzen missed the spring game because of a left knee sprain but appears to be ready to go for the start of camp on Aug. 6.
 
"The reports I get from the trainer is that he is fine and doing everything," Edsall said. "I know he is chomping at the bit. I just hope we can go through without having the injuries. I would love to have one quarterback play with every snap. That is what we are looking the good. Hopefully, we can stay healthy and not get into what we had to get into the last two years. That isn't something we can control."
 
The quarterback position may be a question mark to those outside the team, but the offensive players like what they see. Perhaps the best source for info is Hernandez, who has worked closely with both trying to develop some chemistry since making the switch.
 
"It is going to come down to the wire," Hernandez said. "(Brown) has been in the position longer, but Tyler has picked it up quick. The arm strength is great and they are both similar. I am confident that whoever it is can get the job done. I want the guy who will win the most games, (true frosh) Cody Endres, Tyler or Dennis Brown."
 
The Huskies will add another quarterback to the mix in August when Notre Dame transfer Zach Frazer reports to school. Frazer will have to sit out for a year but having him as the fourth quarterback for depth purposes will help the position.
 
Edsall is going to take his time naming a quarterback. Last year he anointed Hernandez as the starter early in camp only to pull the plug after three games. This year, with quality options such as Brown and Lorenzen at his disposal, he isn't going to rush the decision. The fate of the Huskies' season will depend on it.
 
"When you look at successful teams it stems from they all have a quarterback," Edsall said. "At least it doesn't hurt them. We got two young men vying for the position and we will see where it goes. I am confident in either one. Whoever wins the job, they have the ability go in there and do what we want them to do. They will be surrounded with a veteran offensive line, outstanding running backs and wide receives that can stretch the field."
 
 
Deleston returns
 
The Huskies got some much needed help at safety with the return of East Hartford product Dahna Deleston
 
Deleston, whom was dismissed from school for academic reasons last fall, paid his own way for the spring and summer sessions and found out Monday that he passed the grade and is eligible to play this season.
 
"He and I have been talking and he has been working out on his own," Edsall said. "He'll come back out and I would think he has the edge over anyone else because he has the experience and been a starter."
 
The addition of Deleston, a redshirt junior, bolsters a safety position that could use his experience. Deleston started 11 games at strong safety last season and started six games as a freshman. The Huskies are green at the position with sophomore Robert Vaughn the incumbent at free safety with just two starts. At strong safety, Deleston will compete with freshman Aaron Bagsby and senior Donnell Ford, whose career has mostly been with special teams.
 
 
No more QBs on tap
 
When Fraser joins the ranks of the Huskies in August that will mark the end of UConn's quarterback recruiting for the calendar year.
 
The Huskies will have four scholarship quarterbacks on the roster and unless there a player leaves that precludes Edsall from bringing in another with the current class.
 
Edsall can't comment on Frazer's arrival until the Mechanicsburg, Pa. product enrolls at UConn, but did say the team isn't actively recruiting any more signal callers.
 
"With 85 scholarships I allot so many and I like four scholarship quarterbacks on the roster," Edsall said. "I can't comment on one of them because he is not here, but it appears as of Aug. 5 we will have four quarterbacks. As far as that, we are not going to be recruiting anybody."
 
 
West Virginia No. 1
 
West Virginia, with Heisman hopefuls Steve Slaton and Pat White, were the overwhelming favorites to win the Big East Conference with 20 of 24 first place votes in the preseason media poll with 188 points..  
 
Defending champion Louisville was picked second with three first place votes and 167 points while Rutgers was third with one first place vote and 142 points. South Florida (123), Cincinnati (86), Pittsburgh (80 were next in line with UConn (45) and Syracuse (32) in seventh and eighth place.
 
Being picked seventh didn't bother Edsall.
 
"That is based on what you did last year and what you have coming back," Edsall said. "I don't worry about those things. I worry about where we are at the end of the season."
 
UConn captain Darius Butler didn't make much of it, except to use it as motivation.
 
"It's motivation," Butler said. "We don't really pay attention to it, but it is some motivation. I would pick us seventh after what we did last year too."
 
Injury updates
 
The Huskies injuries problems appear to healing in the most part. Lorenzen should be ready as should defensive tackle Dan Davis and center Keith Gray who sat out the spring with a knee and shoulder injuries. Larry Taylor, who sat out the final two games of the season after suffering a concussion, pronounced himself fit an able to handle all the return duties and then some.
 
John F. Silver is the UConn football beat writer for the Journal Inquirer.

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