Summers trying to gain Edsall's trust after rough '16 campaign with UConn football

Published on Thursday, 20 April 2017 22:41
Written by Neill Ostrout

Journal Inquirer

STORRS - More so than most of his teammates, cornerback Jamar Summers would like to forget the 2016 football season.

On a Husky team packed to the gills with players wishing last season was a mirage, that’s saying something.

“Look back at last season? I don’t, actually,” Summers said Tuesday after the Huskies practiced in the Shenkman Center. “After December, watching film of the previous year, I just put that behind me. I’m burning those ships.”

After a standout 2015 season in which he intercepted eight passes, Summers was seen as the Huskies’ next star defensive back.

He even talked about breaking the UConn career record for interceptions, which Matt Latham set with 18 picks from 1982-84.

But Summers’ 2016 season was supremely trying.

Passes were completed over his head too often, most painfully when Syracuse’s Amba Etta-Tawo racked up 270 yards on 12 catches against Summers and the Huskies in Week 4.

Summers was even moved to safety for a time. Then-coach Bob Diaco said it was for the good of the team.

He finished the season with two interceptions and a team-high nine pass break-ups, but the East Orange, New Jersey native was hardly the player he or the Huskies expected.

Newly re-hired head coach Randy Edsall gave a rather blunt appraisal of Summers on Tuesday.

“Jamar is inconsistent,” Edsall said. “He’s got ability and I like him - good kid.”

“But he’s just got to do the things he’s being coached to do,” he added. “He needs to listen to us.”

The new coaching staff seems to feel that Summers, like many players, had his eyes on the NFL before his body was ready to follow.

“I know more about the NFL than anybody they’re going to talk to. What he needs to do is concentrate on what he can he accomplish here at UConn, use the techniques and fundamentals that Curome (Cox) is teaching him,” said Edsall, referring to the team’s defensive backs coach.

“If he does that, then he’s going to have a chance to be a good player for us. And if he’s a good player for us, then that might give him the opportunity to be looked at by people at the next level.”

Summers played almost immediately after arriving at UConn and was a starter by the middle of his freshman season. But he was demoted for a time recently by Edsall and company.

“We had to put him down on the second team to kind of get his attention a little this spring,” Edsall said. “He gets it. Sometimes you have to do those things.”

Though he may at times appear a bit focused on the professional game, Summers makes it clear what his goals are for the 2017 season.

“Wins. Just wins,” Summers said. “Wins, wins, wins.”

After what was the 13th of his team’s 15 spring practices - which ends with Friday night’s Blue White Game at Pratt & Whitney Stadium - Summers says he’s intent on becoming more of a vocal leader this season.

As for the career interceptions record at UConn?

“It’s still very important to me but it’s not the most important thing,” Summers said.

Davis on the move

The Huskies have made a number of minor position changes with their current players.

Most notably is sophomore Tyler Davis’ switch from tight end to wide receiver.

“Right now he’s not strong enough to play tight end,” Edsall said of the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder from Bellmore, New York. “I think he’s athletic and he runs well. I think he fits better there (wide receiver) right now.”

Davis began his UConn career as a quarterback, but moved to tight end prior to the 2016 season.

Tyler Coyle, a redshirt freshman from Windsor, has been moved from cornerback to safety.

Also, sophomore Nazir Williams has been moved from outside linebacker to middle linebacker. The 6-3, 248-pound Williams was briefly suspended last season after he was arrested by campus police with a loaded BB gun, alcohol, and a small amount of marijuana.

Leadership qualities

Edsall has previously said he will not name captains for his team in 2017, but he’s having trouble determining who will be on the leadership council that will essentially fill the roles of captains in the upcoming season.

“I’m not ready to determine who will be on that leadership council now,” Edsall said. “I see certain guys who would do very, very well in that role. And there’s some positions where I’m scratching my head wondering, ‘Who is that going to be?’ ”

The coach says he wants one player from each position group to sit on a council and deal with many of the issues captains typically deal with.

Extra points

The coaches weren’t thrilled with the Huskies’ performance in Tuesday’s practice. “I was disappointed,” Edsall said, mentioning fumbled among the problems. “Today was not one of our better days here this spring.” … Former UConn player and assistant coach Vinny Marino was in attendance for Tuesday’s practice. Marino is now the offensive coordinator at Bryant University. … Edsall said repeatedly Tuesday that he is hesitant to make any firm personnel decisions until his team’s roster is finalized. It’s clear he’s not just referring to the incoming freshmen but to possible transfers. “The roster can be improved at every position,” Edsall said. “And if I have the opportunity to that, I’m going to.”

Posted in The Bristol Press, General Sports, UConn on Thursday, 20 April 2017 22:41. Updated: Thursday, 20 April 2017 22:44.