UConn's Running Attack; Deep and Talented

STORRS -- Robbie Frey and Kelmetrus "Meme" Wylie understand that they are No. 3 and No. 4 on the depth chart for the UConn football team this spring. Incumbents Andre Dixon and Donald Brown combined for 1,600 yards last season and if there is one position on the team that has an excess of talent it is in the backfield. By the looks of it, carries for the talented freshmen will be hard to come by.

That is what is expected, but if the past several years have shown anything it's that sometimes its the Huskies' backup running backs that turn out to get the bulk of the carries.

Former Husky Cornell Brockington entered a season as a backup and then rushed for nearly 1,400 yards and had two four touchdown games. Backup Chris Bellamy was pressed into action with injuries several years ago and had a string of 100 yard games and also had 212 yards on 33 carries in 2002. Not bad for a fifth stringer.

More recently, Brown was a third string back in 2006 only to move into the starting lineup at the midpoint and make the All-Big East conference team. Last year, Dixon came back from an early season suspension and rushed for a team-high 828 yards.

The lesson for Frey and Wylie is simple-- while the depth chart looks stacked, opportunity can open up very quickly.

"You need two solid guys and a solid third," UConn running backs coach Terry Richardson said. "It depends how the game flows and injuries. You got to be ready to play.

"We had a guy named Chris Bellamy who was the fifth string tailback and he ended up popping out 100 yard games. When your number is called you have to take advantage. That is the mindset. This is a physical game and anything can happen from an injury standpoint."

When the Huskies coaching staff looks at the running back position there is no worry about depth or talent like it has at other positions, namely wide receiver. Brown has had a stellar spring and looks faster and more explosive. Dixon has put on some weight is an explosive slashing runner. Then there is the performance of the two redshirts, Frey and Wylie.

Frey, from Leighton, Pa., was the emergency back last year and suited up for every game last season. He had the benefit of being in the offensive meetings and preparing for the game like he was going to play.

"It was a great experience. Going into every game I had to go into the mindset that I could play," Frey said. "If something happens to Andre or Don I had to be ready. I had a chance to go into game and see how it acts."

Frey is a speed back who hits the hole hard and has impressed with his running ability this spring. He is a similar runner to Dixon in that they both hit the holes quickly and are North-South runners.

Wylie spent his time on the scout team last year, but has come on strong this spring showcasing tremendous combination of power and speed. Wylie is built like a tank at 5-10, 205 pounds and isn't afraid to use his body.

"I feel like I am a big dude, why should I move out of the way of most defenders?," Wylie said. "I have power and can run through arm tackles. No one can arm tackle me. Most defensive backs who come up aggressive I will be aggressive to. I have to use my power and size.

Richardson likes both Wylie and Frey.

"When we recruited them we felt they were really talented and you are starting to see some of the things we saw coming out of high school," Richardson said. "(Frey)is a talented young man and a tough kid and has good speed.

"(Wylie) has good size, strength and speed. We are working to find these young guys their comfort zone."

Wylie know he isn't there yet, but if his time comes he is going to be ready for it.

"You never know what might happen. Not to wish bad luck, but those two could be hurt and I have to be ready if they get hurt," Wylie said. "I have to be ready to play no matter what happens.

"I feel I have a good chance of being the top back for this team when the time comes," Wylie continued. "I feel I am an all-around back, the power and the speed, that most backs don't have. I have great size. When it is my turn and I get the opportunity, I am going to seize the moment."

If past history is any indication, that moment may come earlier then everyone expects.

Spring game on WTIC

WTIC NewsTalk 1080, the flagship station of the UConn Radio Network, will provide complete live play-by-play coverage of the UConn Blue-White Spring Football Game on Saturday, April 19 at Rentschler Field. The 2008 game will mark the second-straight year that WTIC has provided complete play-by-play of the spring game.

Kickoff for the Blue-White Game is 12:00 p.m. and the broadcast day will begin with a pre-game show hosted by WTIC morning personality Ray Dunaway from Rentschler Field live from 11 a.m. until noon.

The game will be also available live on the internet at WTIC.com and be linked through UconnHuskies.com.

UCONN Playbook Top Stories