Lloyd is UConn's man in the middle again

Greg Lloyd (95) celebrates after sacking North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates during last year's game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. Lloyd, who suffered a serious knee injury later in the season, will return for his senior year.
Greg Lloyd (95) celebrates after sacking North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates during last year's game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. Lloyd, who suffered a serious knee injury later in the season, will return for his senior year. Sean D. Elliot/The Day Buy Photo

Storrs - Greg Lloyd was prepared to be a spectator again, even though it was something he dreaded ... especially after watching UConn's final two games from the sideline last season.

"It was like traumatizing," he said Tuesday, recalling his unfamiliar role as a cheerleader during the Huskies' 20-7 win over South Carolina in the Papajohns.com Bowl. "I just had to sit there and watch everybody play and I'm thinking, 'Dang, I should be out there with the guys helping out.'"

Thanks to some good old-fashioned values - hard work and determination - Lloyd is a major player for UConn again, despite being only 10 months removed from major surgery to repair the torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in his left knee.

The senior, expected to spend the 2010 season as a medical redshirt, instead will return to his starting job as UConn's middle linebacker when the Huskies get started on Saturday against Michigan in Ann Arbor.

"The bottom line is sometimes young people exceed the expectations that you might have for them and they go out on the field and perform," coach Randy Edsall said Tuesday during his weekly press conference.

Edsall said Lloyd approached him early on during training camp and asked if he could work his way into some drills, and the coaching staff obliged.

"As we progressed we saw him do certain things," Edsall said. "And as I kept watching practice ... and then when we scrimmaged ... I just saw a guy who was starting to get back to where he was before. I know we had in our mind that we would redshirt him, but there was always that factor in my mind that we could play him.

"You can't take a guy who was cleared to play, who did so much for your team and have him sit down when he can go out there and help you. ... He brings that leadership, that mentality and that cohesiveness with Lawrence (Wilson) and Scott (Lutrus) beside him. To me that's important."

It was Wilson and Lutrus, in fact, who motivated Lloyd to get back on the field this season.

The three have started together for nearly three full seasons (they combined for 300 tackles in 2009) and have all been All-Big East selections in their careers.

"It would mean a lot to me to have my last season be with 'Bama (Wilson) and Lutrus because those are the guys I've been with and playing with for a while now," Lloyd said. "I was ecstatic to hear that it would be OK for me to participate.

"I love being between the lines playing. It's my bread and butter. Sitting out the entire season would have been devastating, and watching everybody else would have been a great letdown."

Instead, he becomes the man in the middle of a fierce, experienced defense.

"It's more important to have Greg back on the field with us," Lutrus said. "Having that experience and just having Greg Lloyd stopping that run in the middle of the field is a huge advantage for us. We're all thrilled to have him back."

So is Lloyd.

"I just wanted to test my limitations and see what exactly I was capable of doing," he said. "Some people it takes awhile to heal and some people it takes a shorter time. I just ended up on the lucky end of it."

News and notes

SportsNet New York (SNY) announced Tuesday that Comcast will expand coverage into the Groton, Norwich and Old Lyme areas by Friday. SNY is planning live coverage of up to five games, including the home opener against Texas Southern (Sept. 18, noon), and will televise a live UConn Football Preview Show on Friday (9:30 p.m.), featuring a one-on-one interview with Edsall from Ann Arbor. ... Michigan's "Big House" has an official capacity of 109,901, but officials expect Saturday's game in the newly-renovated stadium will be the largest crowd in the history of college football, breaking the previous mark of 112,118 set in 2003 when Michigan played host to Big Ten rival Ohio State ... the seating capacity is bigger than the population of every city and town in Connecticut except for Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven and Stamford

c.banning@theday.com

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