STORRS - The name atop the depth chart at quarterback for the UConn football team next season isnâ€™t yet carved in stone. But senior David Pindell has at a minimum been penciled in as the Huskiesâ€™ starter in 2018.
But who will serve as the Huskiesâ€™ back-up - and given the hits that the teamâ€™s quarterbacks have taken in recent years, itâ€™s a vital role - is still up in the air.
Thatâ€™s why sophomore Brandon Bisack, along with redshirt freshmen Jordan McAfee and Marvin Washington, are trying to draw the coachesâ€™ eyes as the Huskies go through spring practices.
UConn head coach Randy Edsall says heâ€™s not as worried about what Bisack, a 6-foot-5 former walk-on from Fairfield, is capable of doing. Heâ€™s curious about the abilities of McAfee and Washington to perform under pressure.
â€śDavidâ€™s taken all the reps with the 1â€™s all spring,â€ť Edsall said after Tuesday morningâ€™s practice at the Shenkman Center. â€śWe know what Brandon can do, and he gets reps. But we have to find out what Marvin and Jordan can do. They didnâ€™t get a lot of work because they redshirted last year.â€ť
Washington, a 6-foot-1 standout from Orlando, knows he and McAfee in particular are in some ways in the â€śput up or shut upâ€ť phase of their careers.
â€śNow we know the game is real. No more redshirts. Weâ€™re competing,â€ť Washington said.
McAfee, a 6-foot-4 native of Everett, Massachusetts, admits that sitting out a year of play in 2017 wasnâ€™t much fun for him. He, like many of his teammates, was a star in high school - he led Everett High to the Division I Super Bowl in Massachusetts as a senior - and was eager to become the same at this level.
â€śWhen I came here I knew Iâ€™d have to fight for a job. But coming off a high school career like that, coming here to sit out, I was bummed out for a little bit. I was off,â€ť McAfee said. â€śBut Iâ€™m glad Iâ€™m learning from David and all them through this process. Itâ€™s a good and bad experience at the same time.â€ť
Pindell, Bisack, Washington and McAfee all seem to believe they have what it takes to lead the Huksy offense, but itâ€™s not a competition that has created enmity, they insist.
â€śWe get along pretty good. We know weâ€™re all here for one reason but itâ€™s a friendly competition,â€ť Washington said. â€śOff the field weâ€™re pretty solid, pretty good friends.â€ť
Bisack has perhaps been the most polished of the three this spring, though both McAfee and Washington have shown flashes as well. But Edsall admits he wonâ€™t have a complete depth chart ready when spring practice ends anyway.
â€śWeâ€™re not going to have a clear No. 2 until we get into the season. Because we have a freshman coming in and youâ€™re going to evaluate him as well,â€ť said Edsall, referring to quarterback Steven Krajewski, who will arrive from Moultrie, Georgia this summer.
For Bisack, who threw for 2,575 yards and 22 touchdowns as a senior at Warde High School, heâ€™s already achieved one of his primary goals at UConn. He came to the Huskies as a walk-on but later was awarded a scholarship. â€śMy goal coming to UConn was I wanted that scholarship and I wanted to play,â€ť Bisack said.
The second part may come soon, or it may not.
â€śBrandon is coming along well. He understands the offense, knows the offense, has good command of it,â€ť Edsall said. â€śHe does a good job of directing guys.â€ť
But Edsall cautions that doesnâ€™t mean Bisack will necessarily be playing on Saturdayâ€™s in the coming season.
â€śYou just donâ€™t know how things will shake out,â€ť Edsall said. â€śSometimes you can do everything the right way, go out and work hard, and there could be people that are better than you that get that opportunity.â€ť
Mensah messes up
Running back Kevin Mensah, the Huskies top returning rusher and likely starter in 2018, has a little academic issue and was held out of practice Tuesday by the coaches.
â€śHe didnâ€™t do the things he was supposed to do in the classroom,â€ť Edsall said of the 5-foot-9 sophomore from Worcester.
Nate Hopkins and Zavier Scott, the latter of whom appears to be having a very successful first spring with the Huskies, both absorbed extra repetitions with Mensah absent.
â€śWeâ€™ll determine whether heâ€™ll be out here on Thursday or Saturday or the rest of the way,â€ť Edsall of Mensah, before correcting himself. â€śWell, heâ€™ll determine it. I wonâ€™t. I just go by what they do.â€ť
Tight end Tyler Davis and nose tackle Kevin Murphy both missed Tuesdayâ€™s practice. Both suffered blows to the head recently and are in the concussion protocol.
Cornerback Jordan Swann was in uniform but Edsall said he was limited by a sprained ankle. True freshman Shamel Lazarus worked with the No. 1 defense in Swannâ€™s place.
The Huskies are practicing Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays this spring, workouts that will culminate April 14 with the Blue-White Game at Pratt & Whitney Stadium.
Edsall has seen that over the last few weeks, Tuesdays are by far his teamâ€™s worst days. The extra time off sometimes creates sloppy practices.
â€śIt wasnâ€™t as sharp as I would have liked it last week, and then I just saw that this week. Yeah, I know there was a basketball game last night but you still have to get your rest. Sometimes you have to sacrifice that stuff,â€ť Edsall said, confessing he didnâ€™t watch a minute of the Villanova-Michigan title game Monday evening.