STORRS - Safety Omar Fortt is significantly more comfortable with his position on the UConn football team than he was at this point last year. For starters, he knows how to dress himself.
“Coming in, I was the only freshman. I didn’t know the norms around here. I didn’t even know where to get my pants. I was like ‘Where do I go?’ ” Fortt said with a smile after practice Thursday morning at the Shenkman Center. “Now, I’m not going to say I’m a veteran, but I’m kind of used to it.”
A 6-foot-1, 189-pound rising sophomore from Stamford, Fortt has impressed the Huskies coaches during the first few spring practices. That wasn’t always the case 12 months ago.
“He was a little bit lost in the sauce,” UConn coach Randy Edsall put it. “It took him a little while to pick things up. But now it’s night and day.
“He’s more comfortable in his surroundings and in what he’s doing,” Edsall added. “He understands the program and the expectations we have here.”
Despite being a bit lost at first, Fortt still contributed to the Huskies as a freshman in 2017. He played in 11 games, making 40 tackles and showed flashes that he could be a major factor for the Huskies in the future.
And perhaps that future is now.
Fortt, whose brother Khairi is a free-agent NFL linebacker who played with the Washington Redskins last season, began the spring in a new position. He was the “Husky” linebacker in UConn’s revised defensive scheme. But after a few practices, the coaches moved him back to his more natural safety position.
“We moved him to the Husky position and then as we evaluated things between him and Ian (Swenson), we thought it might be better if we put him back at safety,” Edsall said. “And the first day we put him back there, I went to the coaches and said that was the right move.”
Fortt said he’s focusing on just doing what UConn defensive backs coach Curome Cox instructs him to do.
“Everything he tells me to do, I try to do it my best,” Fortt said. “He knows that we’re going to make mistakes, and he gets on us. But that’s life. He just tries to ensure that we don’t make the same mistakes.”
Fortt made a positive impression on Cox early in Thursday’s practice. On the first play of the team period, Fortt intercepted a throw by quarterback David Pindell.
“All I heard was coach Cox yelling ‘Pick it!’ So I was like ‘I better not drop this,’” Fortt said with a laugh. “We went over that play I the install. You just follow what he (Cox) says and everything goes perfectly. He told me to read QB intentions. And the QB looked that way so I read his eyes and I just broke on it. That’s all because of listening to him.”
The Huskies have a great deal of work to do on pass defense.
UConn was dead last nationally (129th) in passing yards allowed last season (333.9 yards per game) and 122nd in passing efficiency defense.
“It’s a full team deal with the passing yards. It’s on us as much as it’s on the DBs,” defensive tackle Kevin Murphy said. “I think it’s really just working on fundamentals and techniques. And another year into the system, we should be able to think less about what we’re doing and more react to what we’re seeing, and then make more plays.”
UConn wraps up spring practice with the Blue-White game Saturday April 14 at noon at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford.