Looking at the wide receivers

UConn wide receiver Geremy Davis defends on a 50-50 ball against Maryland last season.

UConn wide receiver Geremy Davis defends on a 50-50 ball against Maryland last season.

John F. Silver

Deshon Foxx hasn’t always known what he was in his time at the University of Connecticut.

Foxx came to UConn as an athlete, a hybrid running back and wide receiver from Lynchburg, Va. Foxx, it turns out, was neither running back or wide receiver.

He played sparingly as a true freshman two years ago and had three carries for 15 yards. He also is a kick returner and had four returns as a freshman.

Last season he was moved to wide receiver and in seven games he didn’t touch the ball all year. He appeared briefly on the field for the Huskies’ offensive challenged teams and was not only a non-factor, but an afterthought.

Foxx

There is one thing that Foxx has that keeps him front and center in the minds of the coaching staff — speed.

UConn can’t get enough of it whether it’s Joe Williams at running back, E.J. Norris at defensive end or Foxx at wide receiver. If a player has speed, they are going to get a second, third and fourth look.

Foxx has taken advantage of that chance this spring as he has worked as the slot receiver for the Huskies, something his speed and size at 5-11 seems well-equipped to do.

“He’s fitting in good,” head coach Paul Pasqualoni said recently of Foxx. “He’s where he needs to be right now. Every once in a while you see flashes of real speed. The guy is really fast.”

For Foxx, nailing down that slot receiver position is a long time coming. The Huskies have rebuilt the wide receiver corps the last several years. Right now, if everyone’s healthy, Geremy Davis (44 catches, 613 yards) is the No. 1 receiver followed by Shakim Phillips (32 catches, 399 yards). That duo gives the Huskies athletic and taller wide receivers that can get down the field and also make plays on defenses. Underneath is where the Huskies sorely could use a player of Foxx’s athletic ability. the design is to have Davis and Phillips be deep threats and for Foxx to wreck havoc underneath. it’s a role Foxx feels he can fit in well.

“I think I found out where I fit into this offense,” Foxx said. “When I first came here as a freshman they had me at running back. I was shaky back there and they through of me as a slot receiver and I am growing.”

Foxx has timed speed, what he needs is to become football fast.

“I got to play faster.,” Foxx added. “Once I learn techniques, I can play faster and use that technique and speed together. Once I get better at that I can do more than I do right now.”

The Huskies are deep with experience at wide receiver having undergone a mass exodus of receivers in Pasqualoni’s two years. Phillips and Davis are the only experienced wide receivers back and Foxx has been a player that Pasqualoni has cited several times this s`pring as a player.

After those three, the Huskies are going to have to have a young-in step in. The Huskies are high on freshman Ricky Gutierrez Jr, an athletic wide receiver who sat out last season as a redshirt. Also in the mix is another redshirt in John Greene, a fast 5-10 wide receiver who can also double as a returner. Kamal Abrams is still around and is listed as a junior on the spring roster though he didn’t play last season. Abrams was pushed into action as a true freshman and does have some game experience and a couple of catches to his credit.

The Huskies also have some options coming in with Dhameer Bradley and Noel Thomas on campus getting their feet wet. The Huskies are also very high on Pennsylvania recruit Brian Lemelle, who fits the slot receiver position perfectly. Lemelle is one of the more highly decorated wide receivers to come out of Pennsylvania with over 3,000 yards receiving and 26 touchdowns his last two years of high school.

The Huskies desperately need more playmaking from the position. Last year, UConn got only three touchdowns from receivers all year. Luckily, the offensive coordinator in T.J. Weist doubles as the wide receiver coach.

“I am pleased with Germey Davis and Shak (Phillips), those two have experience and made plays last year,” Weist said. “They have to lead this group and they are both talented and work hard. They got leadership and the other receivers look at them and see how hard they work everyday. Deshon Foxx as a slot receiver has done very well. He has been dependable. The crew of receivers is young. Besides Geremy and Shak, a lot of guys have to prove themselves.”

Foxx hopes to be one of those guys to fill in. When asked about the offense under new offensive coordinator T.J. Weist, Foxx simply said — “Love it.”

He knows his role on the team, and that’s to get the ball and run.

“That’s part of the plan, use my speed,” Foxx said. “When I get the ball I can run fast. That’s what I can do.”

That’s something the Huskies would like to see.

Sunday links

I was not at practice, or up in Storrs for interviews after practice to be more accurate on Saturday. Luckily for us, there was some good stuff from my colleagues at the Courant and Register.

The Register’s Jim Fuller over at Runway Ramblings has a story on Andrew Adams at safety.

Here’s my view of the battles: Adams of course is going to step in at safety as Byron Jones moves to corner. The big thing

Adams

to know about UConn’s secondary is the safety position is loaded with athletes, and the corner back position is starved for players. The huskies are going to have a drop off at corner because Blidi Wreh-Wilson and Dwayne Gratz were dependable and allowed the defense to kind of forget about what was happening outside. Safety holds some of the best athletes on the team currently allowing for Jones and Ellis Marder to move to corner. Obi Melinfonwu and Jordan Floyd are highly-regarded by the coaching staff. At corner? It’s going to take time. I like what I saw out of Jones as a freshman when he stepped in for Gary Wilburn. He has size and the athletic ability to play the position. The other corner? I would worry about Taylor Mack and David Stevensen’s size. One of those is likely to start, and coming from the bigger corners in Wreh-Wilson and Gratz, it’s going to be a struggle. Mack has a lot of game experience, but he has also been burned for big plays. Stevensen was the star of the spring game last year and is a ball-hawk. He’s also in the 5-8 to 5-9 range for height.

Lastly, the Courant’s Paul Doyle has a story of Weist at offensive coordinator. Full story here.




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