Spring Football: Darius Butler Gets Offensive

STORRS -- Since UConn defensive back Darius Butler stepped on campus he has clamored to get some time on offense. Butler, who was a standout option quarterback in high school, has badgered UConn coach Randy Edsall and offensive coordinator Rob Ambrose about making the move for years.

Butler has taken his politicking to the media and at every opportunity has said he wants to play some at wide receiver.

He even enlisted starting quarterback Tyler Lorenzen in his lobbying effort.

All that meant little to Edsall however, who for years has dismissed the idea. This spring is different however. The Huskies need some life at wide receiver and with the top three options all hurt this spring, Butler's appearance on offense is no longer a luxury.

The Huskies are desperate at wide receiver, and desperate times call for desperate measures.

Butler split time on offense and defense during Tuesday's as the Huskies try and inject some life into the passing game.

"I have been talking about it since I been here," Butler said of the switch. "Defense comes first. I just want to get in there and make plays. I want to get the ball in my hands, make some yards and some big plays."

That is an aspect of the game the Huskies desperately need. Brad Kanuch (quad pull) has yet to practice this spring while D.J. Hernandez (ankle) and Ellis Gaulden (foot) are both out for the spring with injuries. In the case of Gaulden, his career is in jeopardy. That isn't a good scenario for an offense that came into the spring looking for more production out of the wide receiver position.

With all the injuries, Butler's athletic ability was too enticing to not try a move.

"He is a hell of an athlete," Ambrose said. "The concept is, if you master your position or at least get close then we can talk about playing the other side of the ball. As a guy who has a lot of reps at corner, he is a hell of an athlete -- I will take him.

"For now, it is a couple of plays and let's see what he is really good at. I am glad we are doing that now."

Butler will also serve as a kick returner for the Huskies and if all goes well this spring have a limited package put in for him on offense. Lorenzen was surprised by the move, but felt that Butler could help out I the passing game.

"He just wants to make some plays and help the team the best he can," Lorenzen said. "Ever since I have been here he has been catching the ball and running routes and telling me ‘Talk to coach and tell him to get me some plays here and there.' "We have been chirping in (Edsall's) ear. I was surprised, but I look to see what happens in the future."

Edsall joked Saturday that when Hernandez went down with an injury that Butler was already in his office lobbying to play on offense.

It would seem that all that politicking finally paid off.

Practice notes

** No one is immune to benching in the spring. After several poor throws and an interception by Lorenzen, Edsall put backup Zach Frazer on the first team. Frazer looked sharp throwing the ball showing a good arm and tight spiral. That was in contrast to Saturday's practice where Frazer struggled with accuracy and play calling.

**UConn will hold pro day on Wednesday for NFL scouts on Wednesday at the Shenkman Center. About 10 UConn players will participate in some way. Corner Tyvon Branch and guard Donald Thomas, coming off strong NFL combine performances, are the most likely Huskies players to get drafted next month.

** Safety Glenn Mourning left practice early with what looked like a minor leg injury.

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