STORRS, Conn. – Coach Paul Pasqualoni announced Sunday that the captains for the 2013 Connecticut football team will be guard Steve Greene, defensive tackle Shamar Stephen and linebacker Yawin Smallwood. Pasqualoni put the election of captains to the team and seemed very pleased with the selections.
"Yawin Smallwood, although he's only a junior, the team voted for Yawin so he'll be our third captain," Pasqualoni said. "We think these guys are outstanding individuals who are really program guys and exemplify the student-athlete. They're really serious about school, and serious about football. The commitment they've made to football and to the program, they each have a chance to be excellent leaders on this team."
Smallwood is on the preseason watch list for five top awards in college football, including the Butkus Award for top linebacker and the Walter Camp Award, which goes to the top player in the nation.
"It means a lot to me, I've always thought about having the chance to be a captain and now that it's here I just have to keep doing what I've been doing," Smallwood said. "Keep trying to lead this team, try to push players to be the best they can be."
Smallwood is expected to one of the anchors of the defense. He's quiet but Pasqualoni likes the way he handles himself on the field.
"What I like most is that Yawin doesn't say much but his actions speak louder than words," Pasqualoni said. "Yawin leads by example and by production, by practicing well and being smart in the meeting room and doing it exactly the way you want him to. He's led exactly the way you want him to."
UConn opens the season Thursday night at Rentschler Field against Towson. Linebacker Junior Joseph and safety Andrew Adams are injured and will miss the opener. Adams injured his shoulder last Saturday in practice. Pasqualoni said he expects Adams to miss a minimum of eight weeks. Obi Melifonwu will start in his place.
Other observations from Pasqualoni, included his evaluation that the offensive line has "really improved" and has been "very consistent" in camp. "I'm anxious to see them Thursday night," Pasqualoni said. . . . Tight end Sean McQuillan, who suffered a concussion in practice just eight days ago, is in the starting lineup for Thursday's game. "I'm optimistic that by Thursday we have a chance to get him dressed and ready to play the game," Pasqualoni said. . . . Pasqualoni commented for the first time on freshman quarterback Richard Lagow's sudden departure from the team. The Plano, Texas, QB had decided to a take a wal-on spot at Oklahoma State. "I wish him well," Pasqualoni said. "I liked Richard." Quarterback Chandler Whitmer said that he spoke briefly with Lagow but, in the end, thought Lagow was doing what is best for himself. . . . Veteran UConn announcer Wayne Norman will miss Thursday's game. Norman's mother passed away over the weekend in California.