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UConn football position preview: Wide receivers and tight ends

There has been, umm, some personnel turnover here.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

There is no position group on this year’s UConn Huskies that is as uncertain as the pass catchers. Six of last year’s top seven receivers are gone, due to either graduation or transfer. The leading returning receiver is Zavier Scott, who just moved over to WR from running back. He only had 228 yards on 33 receptions, but will have to be a leader this year for Randy Edsall and new offensive coordinator Frank Giufre.

At tight end, Tyler Davis is now at Georgia Tech as a graduate transfer. He had the most receiving touchdowns (6) for UConn last year to go along with 237 yards on 22 receptions. Two inexperienced upperclassmen are going to have to fill in for him.

Senior Donovan Williams, a team captain who just moved to tight end from receiver, has bulked up to 240 pounds and is the most likely to have a productive season. Junior Jay Rose, the former 3-star recruit, is the only other tight end who has seen meaningful playing time. The two had one reception each last year for a combined 38 yards, which isn’t ideal but at this point they’re all we’ve got.

Beyond Zavier Scott, there are a lot of candidates for reps out wide. Quayvon Skanes and Mason Donaldson are the lone upperclassmen. Both were somewhat productive in 2017 but had zero catches in 2018. They were mostly on special teams duty last year, but have the talent to be reliable options for newly-minted starter Mike Beaudry in the passing game.

The group will get a boost from graduate transfer Ardell Brown, in Storrs by way of Division II Seton Hill in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Brown was a D2 All-American who finished third in the country in receiving yards with 1,267 and had nine touchdowns to go with it. With his experience and the amount of touches up for grabs, he could very well be UConn’s leading receiver.

The rest of the group is young and unproven. At receiver, redshirt sophomores Garrison Burnett and Cameron Hairston and a bunch of freshmen will all have a chance. At tight end, it’s freshmen and sophomores with little to no on-field experience after Williams and Rose.

There is some talent, however, and a little bit of experience, but not a lot. Pretty much anyone with “WR” or “TE” next to their name on the roster could be a major contributor this year, as far as we know. I doubt Edsall will burn redshirts, but The Hartford Courant’s Alex Putterman reports that true freshman Cameron Ross has received a lot of reps with the first team in practice and projects him as a starter along with redshirt freshman Heron Maurisseau.

The pass-catchers are really a microcosm for the state of this year’s Huskies: a lot of turnover, spurred by coaching/scheme change, and a lot of intriguing but unproven talent. This group won’t be the reason UConn loses games this year, but it certainly won’t be a driving force for victory either.