Former UConn Players Join Current Team On Football Practice Field – Hartford Courant
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STORRS – Craig Primiani and Kevin Urso were UConn offensive linemen in the 1980s.
Naturally, they wandered to the far quarter of the field with the current offensive line during a Friday morning practice. Former football players were invited by coach Bob Diaco to check out practice and see how the program was growing.
Primiani, of Torrington, and Urso, of New Britain, who played for the Huskies from 1982-85, were two of 53 former players who represented a few different eras.
John Salek, a linebacker in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Terry Antrum (running back) and Glenn Antrum (receiver) of Ansonia (1980s), TaVarr Closs (offensive tackle), Carl Bond (receiver), members of UConn’s first postseason team (1998) and defensive end Uyi Osunde (1990s-2000s) were there. Members of the Huskies’ Fiesta bowl team – Jonathan Jean-Louis, wide receiver Kashif Moore and fullback Anthony Sherman — also were at the practice. Moore and Sherman are teammates on the Kansas City Chiefs.
And, for the most part, they were impressed with what they saw.
“It is amazing to see the difference, the rhythm of practice, it just keeps going,” Urso said. “You could tell they’re knowledgeable coaches and they keep working with these kids. When we were sitting in the meeting rooms with them it is so high tech. This is amazing.”
Diaco said inviting alumni gives them insight into the program they helped to build.
“Although it’s definitely an outreach piece, part of it is selfish,” Diaco said. “It’s for our team. It’s good for our team, the current team. They had a nice morning but our team had a chance to be around the guys that built this house, this winning, successful, first-class championship house and they get a chance to bridge that tradition.”
Some saw UConn’s facilities, which rival any major FBS program, for the first time. They really liked the indoor practice facility, too. Yes, they were impressed with the pace of practice but also were checking out the players, schemes, effort, and they all had an opinion.
“It’s crazy to me because it’s so advanced here on the field and off, you almost don’t believe that you were here but at the same time, it’s like you were part of the foundation,” Bond said. “To see it and be part of it, there’s no brotherhood like this. Once you’re in, you’re in and I have to tell you it is great to see the direction the program is moving in.”
It shouldn’t be surprising that Moore, a dazzling, 5-foot-9 receiver, spent his time watching the receivers, especially 6-5 Aaron McLean and Frank Battle.
“Yeah, we didn’t have anything like them when I was here,” Moore said. “There’s definitely a size change here. They have a new, great receivers’ coach [Erik Campbell from Michigan] who brings a lot of knowledge of that position.”
Noel Thomas, who will be a senior and is the Huskies leading returning receiver, noticed Moore.
“They built this for us,” Thomas said. “Now we’re just trying to carry on, especially guys like Kashif Moore who I was talking to. He is a great guy. He was coaching me up on the sideline. I appreciated that.”
Connecting, Diaco said, is what it’s all about. .
Sherman, the only NFL All-Pro to play at UConn, is a positive person by nature so his tweets are just the same. He checks in with the team that way.
“For us it’s a way to stay connected and have that common bond, communicate with each other,” Sherman said. “Just being excited about where we put so much heart, sweat and tears on this field, this building, at Rentschler Field, we went through the same things. I hope they cherish it and enjoy the time they have here.”
The size of the players and time management were the topics of most conversations. UConn’s practices are certainly efficient.
“I love the energy,” Terry Antrum said. “The timing, the schedule; it is so organized from where we were back in the day. They don’t waste time here. These facilities are great for recruiting. I think they’re improved and will be even better than where they were last year [finishing 6-7]. What I’m worried about is the offensive line. If the offensive line is fine then I think we’ll be even better. I think we’re going to another bowl game not only if they improve but if they stay healthy.”
Primiani said the line will be good.
“They’re tough, look at these guys and the coaches are doing a great job with them,”
Urso quickly interjects.
“Oh, and now the music is playing, look at this, everybody is up, with smiles doing this stuff,” he said. “We had to listen to music in our heads when we played. This is great.”