Noel Thomas had 335 yards and four TDs last season. That isn't a lot of yards or production, but when looking at the UConn receivers coming into this season it's hard not to notice Thomas.
He's the one player coming back on the 2015 that has proven explosive ability. Thomas had four touchdowns down the stretch of the season and caught 21 passes including all four TDs in a four game span late in the season. Thomas has all that you need in a deep threat with size at 6-1 and separation ability. He showed flashes late in the season going deep, and also had a touchdown by getting the ball in space and making people miss.
The big part coming into 2015 is that Thomas is now the No. 1 receiver with Geremy Davis and Deshon Foxx off to the NFL.
Connecticut wide receiver Brian Lemelle (84) runs for a touchdown on a 46-yard pass play against Central Florida during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. Central Florida won the game 62-17.(AP Photo/John Raoux)
Where do the Huskies go for game-breaking plays?
Thomas is first, but the wide receiver corps will have some options. Thomas Lucas, a big receiver at 6-2, figures to line up with Davis with either Dhameer Bradley (15 rec., 100 yards) or Brian LeMelle (5 rec., 27 yards) in the slot. Bradley and LeMelle both have shown an ability to work underneath and with Foxx gone, the Huskies desperately need that kind of receiver to step in an be more consistent.
LeMelle showed flashes of game-breaking ability as a true freshman, but was non-existent last year for the Huskies with three DNPs and was mostly a special teams performer. He's going to have to play a much bigger role this year.
The exciting part about camp will be the introduction of a range of wide receivers in true freshmen Tyraiq Beals, Hergy Mayala and trees Frank Battle and Aaron McLean (6-5, 6-6) coming into the mix. Those three are all highly regarded recruits and with only walk-ons left, there will be plenty of opportunity to move onto the travel squad and the two deep. At least one of the true freshmen receivers is going to see action this year for the Huskies with Mayala the favorite due to his prep school pedigree and age.
The Huskies don't have any seniors in the wide receiver unit, and this year's receiving corps will be around for at least the next two years.
There isn't a proven commodity on the team and playmakers are at a premium. There is athletic talent and each player has shown some flashes of big play potential. Who will put it together?
Tight end, on the other hand, remains a problem spot for the Huskies as Sean McQuillan, a rising senior who was expected to be a big part of the offense, was involved in an alleged fight on campus and his subsequent arrest resulted in him leaving the program.
That leaves a gaping hole at tight end for the Huskies, who begin with sophomores Tommy Myers as No. 1. Sophomore Alec Bloom is also strongly in the mix as a receiving tight end with Myers a physical presence as a blocker and target at 6-5 and athletic.
Myers was an underutilized player and had only two catches last season as he was mostly a blocker. Alec Bloom had three catches including a touchdown, but disappeared after his touchdown catch against Boise State.
The Huskies are going to need to bring along one of their young tight ends quickly. UConn will go with a run-oriented attack and blocking will be at a premium out of the position. That will allow Myers to get in space in play-action and should be a red zone target.
The Huskies brought in a load of potential TEs, as Bob Diaco and the staff like that body-type to play multiple positions. To start off Ian Campbell, Zordan Holman, Chris Lee are all coming in as tight ends and will play. The Huskies could also move recruits such as DE Dallas Parker, LB William Richardson, DE Connor Freeborn and even McLean into the tight end role if necessary. That's what camp is for. The hardest part of playing the position are the blocking duties and Myers is the most advanced and ready to take on the role. Don't rule out an offensive linemen playing tight end for blocking purposes this year, much like Steve Hashemi did so last season.
This will be a position of experimentation in August.