Spring Football; Wide Receivers Wanted

STORRS -- D.J. Hernandez lay in pain on the turf at the Shenkman Center not 20 yards from UConn coach Randy Edsall. The Huskies' trainers went out to tend to the Huskies' wide receiver and Edsall stood away and watched. Could it be another injury to a wide receiver? Hernandez was soon helped to the trainer's room while Edsall went about his business running practice.

Even before practice ended Edsall was already contemplating some changes.

When Hernandez came out on crutches it didn't take long for Edsall to announce that Hernandez is out this spring with a severely sprained left ankle. Another wide receiver, oft injured senior Ellis Gaulden, snapped a tendon in his foot and is probably done for his career. Brad Kanuch has yet to practice this spring with a strained left quad muscle. Add to that the graduation of Larry Taylor and the bizarre transfer of leading receiver Terrence Jeffers in January and you have to run to the depth chart to see of there are any wide receivers left on the roster.

Of course there are, but just barely.

The wide receiver position was going to be an ongoing battle in spring practice. UConn is in desperate need of more production out of the position. Now, it looks as though the Huskies are just trying to get through the spring and field a team.

Until Kanuch returns sometime in the next two weeks, the rest of the Huskies wide receiver corps had exactly one catch last season (walk-on Marcus Easley). The corps is so thin that Edsall is going to move a player from the defense to wide receiver to compete for time.

"It's going to give the other guys a lot of reps," Edsall said. "They need all they can get. I may spend my Easter (holiday) to decide if there is someone we have to move to wide receiver. We will make the best of what's available to us."

The good news for the Huskies is that it's spring practice and not two weeks before the season opener against Hofstra. There will be plenty of chances for someone to make a name and impress the coaching staff.

Edsall and the coaching staff are very high on redshirt freshman Kashif Moore out of the Burlington Township, N.J. Moore, 5-foot-9, is know for his blinding speed and the coaching staff resisted the urge to play his as a true freshman last season. A year as a redshirt only helped Moore, who drew raves from the coaching staff late in the season.

"We have a lot of competition out here," Moore said. "I feel like I have a lot of speed that I can bring to the table and run routes pretty well and then make a plays after the catch."

Joining Moore is 6-foot-2 Isaiah Moore (no relation) from Cambridge, Mass. Isaiah also sat out his true freshman season, but this was a medical redshirt after suffering a shoulder injury in summer camp.

There are a pair of special teams holdovers who also get a chance this spring. Sophomore Kevin Poles, who played in 12 games on special teams, had a strong camp his freshman season but hasn't been heard from since.

Then there is the enigma that is Robert Theoudele. The fifth year senior was converted to wide receiver and boasts a tremendous amount of athleticism, though he has yet to put it all together. At 6-foot-4 he is the big target the Huskies crave and now after years learning the position it's make our break time.

"I am getting better," Theoudele said. "My size is advantage, I want to use that as much as possible. I need to improve on being consistent and catching the ball. Not make one catch and not be heard from the next 10 plays."

The Huskies will give the walk-ons a chance also with Easley, Erik Muschette, and Alex Molina in the mix.

Now will be the time for that group to get a chance to show their stuff. Once the summer comes around the picture will crowd again. Hernandez and Kanuch should be full strength and the Huskies brought in three wide receivers in Michael Smith (Houston, Texas), 6-foot-4 Brian Parker (Bradenton, Fla.) and 6-foot-3 athlete Gerrard Shepard (Owings Mills, Md.).

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Read John Silver's UConn blog at silversdailydish.blogspot.com

UCONN Playbook Top Stories