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UConn Football Positional Preview: Wide Receivers and Tight Ends

How will the Huskies replace Noel Thomas production? Will they finally get the most out of their talented tight end duo?

Ian Bethune - The UConn Blog

Losing a player that accounted for 47% of the offense in Noel Thomas is never easy. However, for as bad as the UConn Huskies’ offense was last season, there is plenty of talent in the receiving corps and the group may benefit from spreading it around a bit more. They just need some of it to mature rather quickly.

Meanwhile, the tight end position was essentially relegated to a third tackle last season despite the Huskies having two great athletes at the position. They will arguably be the biggest beneficiaries of Rhett Lashlee’s new offense this year.

Wide Receiver

Tyraiq Beals - JR - East Orange, NJ

After a showing promise out of the slot as a true freshman, grabbing 24 passes for 275 yards, Beals caught just seven passes last season. While that’s partially the result of Noel Thomas taking 100 catches, Beals didn’t see the field much either. This season, he’s listed as the starter on the outside opposite Hergy Mayala and the Huskies will be relying on him to produce as one of the elder statesmen at the position.

Hergy Mayala - JR - Montreal, Quebec

The first two years of Mayala’s career are nearly the opposite of Beals. He caught just seven passes as a freshman but was third on the team with 23 catches last season. He should take a big leap this season as the Huskies’ most complete and proven receiving threat.

Quayvon Skanes - RS FR - Chicago, IL

Listed as the third starter at wide receiver, Skanes will likely see most of his action out of the slot for UConn. He is one of only true redshirt freshman to earn a starting job on offense, joining right guard Cam DeGeorge.

Skanes’ best attributes are his speed and ability to make people miss, giving the Huskies a dangerous weapon out of the slot. He could also see time on special teams as he’s listed as the backup kick and punt returner.

Keyion Dixon - RS FR - Glastonbury, CT

An under-the-radar prospect coming into UConn, Dixon has arguably the highest ceiling of the Huskies’ young receivers. His 6-foot-3 frame gives him an advantage over most corners while his athleticism makes him difficult to bring down after the catch. Dixon really impressed in the spring game with five catches for 94 yards, including a few tough grabs.

Tyler Davis - RS SO - North Bellmore, NY

Davis is in the midst of his third position change at UConn. He initially arrived as a quarterback out of Mepham High in Long Island before switching to tight end last season. Randy Edsall felt he was too small to play tight end, which resulted in another move to wide receiver. Davis showed some flashes as a tight end and that strong play has continued into the spring, as he’s listed as one of the backups to Quayvon Skanes.

Davis’ listed position could be a mere formality. At 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, he could be utilized at multiple spots in order to create mismatches for opposing defenses.

Aaron McLean - JR - Southborough, MA

McLean is UConn’s tallest receiver, standing 6-foot-5. He’s seen limited action in two seasons, catching a total of six passes for 96 yards. While he isn’t the fastest on the field, McLean’s size creates a significant advantage over cornerbacks, potentially creating good match-ups for the Huskies, similar to Davis. He’s listed as a backup to Skanes, but should see a decent amount of snaps as the fourth or fifth receiver and should be helpful in red zone situations.

Donovan Williams - SO - Dumfries, VA

After coming to UConn as a quarterback and getting thrown to the wolves with three games left last season, Williams made the switch to receiver in early August. Considering how little time he’s had to adjust, it’s a surprise to see Williams listed on the two-deep. He’s one of three backups to Skanes, but the first game could reveal if the coaching staff really plans on using him this season.

Mason Donaldson - RS FR - Allentown, PA

A member of UConn’s class of 2016, Donaldson redshirted his freshman year but is now listed as the sole backup to Hergy Mayala. Not only does Donaldson play receiver, he also kicked for his high school team, providing the special teams unit with some insurance.

Kyle Buss - RS JR - New Berlin, NY

Buss comes to UConn from Robert Morris, where he caught 50 passes for 742 yards and was named the NEC Offensive Rookie of the Year as a redshirt freshman. However, he played in just one game last season before stepping away to deal with personal issues. It’s unclear if he’ll play this season, although Edsall is hopeful. He was named scout team player of the week for both offense and special teams this past week.

Bryan Coney - RS SO - Naugatuck, CT

Coney came to UConn as a preferred walk-on and saw his action in all 12 last season as a special teams gunner, recording two tackles. He has since earned a scholarship.

Cameron Hairston - FR - Lee’s Summit, MO

After initially committing to FCS powerhouse North Dakota State, Hairston flipped to UConn in late January. He will likely redshirt this season.

Zavier Scott - FR - Fort Hood, TX

As the son of a military family, Scott moved to Germany during his high school career and struggled to receive attention from college coaches. While he had interest from Michigan and Ohio State, he would’ve needed to wait until Spring 2018 to enroll. Instead, he chose to come to UConn this fall, even if he will redshirt this season.

Garrison Burnett - FR - Washington, DC

One of a handful of quarterbacks-turned-wide receiver on UConn’s roster, Burnett will likely redshirt this season to get more time to learn the new position.

Jarrell Chaney - FR - Albany, NY

A preferred walk-on, Chaney joined the program in late July.

TJ Vernieri - RS SO - Long Valley, NJ

A walk-on that joined the program in 2015, Vernieri has yet to see action in his UConn career. He would be most likely to see the field on special teams this season.

Tight Ends

Alec Bloom - SR - Ligonier, PA

For all the talk about how little the tight ends were involved last season, Bloom was used efficiently at least. He caught 15 passes for 142 yards, good for 9.5 yards-per-catch. He is listed as the co-starter with Tommy Myers, where he projects to be the in-line tight end.

At 6-foot-6, Bloom is a big target for new quarterback David Pindell and should also stretch the field vertically up the middle for the Huskies.

Tommy Myers - RS SR - Coventry, CT

Myers and Bloom have played together for four seasons and the pair complement each other well. Myers is better suited to be the “move” tight end, meaning he can play multiple positions, such as fullback and slot receiver. Working out of the “F” position the last few seasons, Myers has experience playing all over the field and excelling.

Although he finished with just nine catches last season, that number should increase in the new offense. He’s also an option at kicker if things go awry for the Huskies, as he hit a 40-yard field goal at the open practice.

Jay Rose - FR - Southington, CT

After leaving the program last summer, only to return this spring, Rose is one of the most intriguing players on UConn’s roster. He turned down multiple “power five” offers to come to Storrs as a tight end, instead of as a quarterback like many believed. While he’ll most likely redshirt this season, he’s a player to keep an eye on moving forward.

Ryan Fitton - FR - Wesport, CT

One of the top Connecticut commits in UConn’s class of 2017, Fitton has the prototypical tight end size at 6-foot-4, 237 pounds. He’ll likely redshirt the season but could make an impact next season after Bloom and Myers graduate.

Zordan Holman - RS SO - Portland, ME

A jiu-jitsu world champion, Holman has yet to see the field on offense for the Huskies at this point. This season, Holman will likely see all of his action on the special teams unit.

Previous Positional Previews

Defensive Line


Defensive Backs

Offensive Backfield (QB/RB)

Offensive Line