Edsall leans on UConn football leadership council in Summers suspension

UConn head coach Randy Edsall talks to his team during the second half of Saturday night's 52-12 loss to Missouri in East Hartford. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
UConn head coach Randy Edsall talks to his team during the second half of Saturday night's 52-12 loss to Missouri in East Hartford. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Storrs — During football season coach Randy Edsall meets weekly with his UConn football team's leadership council to address a variety of issues.

Sunday's meeting took longer than usual.

Edsall asked for feedback regarding disciplinary action for senior Jamar Summers, who was penalized for taunting late in the third quarter of Saturday's lopsided loss to Missouri. After making an interception, Summers threw the ball at a Missouri player. An upset Edsall immediately sent Summers to the locker room.

After receiving input, Edsall decided to suspend Summers for the first three quarters of Saturday's American Athletic Conference game against South Florida at Rentschler Field in East Hartford (3:30 p.m., ESPNU).

Edsall was "very, very impressed" with the way his leaders handled the matter.

"They felt there was a component that needed to be dealt with away from the playing field in terms of if there was going to be playing time taken away or not," Edsall said. "They set that themselves. I won't get into what they said, but it was a pretty harsh discipline that they put in place for him to fulfill. Then they felt there also should be game time taken away.

"... As I sat back and listened, I told them, I'll make the final decision based on the recommendations that you guys put out there. ... So then I made the decision. I brought the leadership council in with Jamar. I told them what I was going to do so Jamar could hear it in front of his teammates who are the leaders of this team, and told him he will not be able to play in the first three quarters of this game, which will really end up being a full game suspension based on the quarter last game and three quarters from this game."

It was a difficult decision for the leadership council, passing judgment on a friend and teammate.

"You've got to put your friendship aside and realize that you're working on something bigger and that's the team, and it's instilling rules and standards in the team," said senior Jason Thompson, a leadership council member. "It's real hard to make a decision like that."

On top of that, Saturday is Senior Day, so Summers will not be occupying his usual starting spot at defensive back in the final home game of his career. Redshirt senior linebacker Junior Joseph is the only player on the roster that has more career starts than Summers. Redshirt senior Tre Bell will replace Summers.

The leadership council wants the situation to serve as a life lesson for Summers, according to redshirt senior Tommy Myers. Other members of the council include Joseph, Bell, junior Hergy Mayala, senior Luke Carrezola, senior Vontae Diggs, senior Alec Bloom, redshirt junior Ryan Crozier and redshirt sophomore Matt Peart.

"It was definitely difficult," Joseph said. "It's something that you don't want to do to your fellow teammate, but for the bigger purpose of the team, you would like to set an example for the team. It's not just about him, it's about the whole team.

"And you want to set an example for the freshmen and even for the next freshmen class coming in. They're going to see one of the best players on the team not playing and he got disciplined. They're going to know they can't come in and act a certain way. I think that's what coach Edsall really wanted to instill, not just for Jamar, but for the whole team and the culture going ahead."

Culture is a subject that Edsall has spoke about in great detail in recent days. He's more concerned about the bigger picture for the program than the team's 3-5 record.

The way the leadership council handled the Summers situation gives Edsall faith his message is being absorbed by the team.

"I was extremely encouraged," Edsall said. "Some people might not see that as progress. But when you get those guys enforcing that discipline amongst their own teammate, I've been in some situations where they don't want to do that. They don't want to take that stand. But those nine guys understand what leadership is all about. And if you have that amongst your team, that culture will be created a heck of a lot quicker than you think.

"Because that's the thing I've always said, it's my program, but it's their team. And that told me something about what we have started with that leadership group. That, to me, will continue, because what they've done, they sent a message to whoever else is going to be on that leadership committee in the years to come that there's are the things that you have to do to make sure that you're doing the things to help the team win.

"Individually, those guys were embarrassed, our program was embarrassed, this university was embarrassed through that. That's something you can't have if you're going to be successful."

News and notes

• South Florida (7-1, 4-1) fell to No. 23 in the rankings after losing to Houston 28-24, on Saturday. ... Depth chart changes: Thompson has replaced Nate Hopkins, who was injured against Missouri, as backup running back. "He's got a bad shoulder and I don't expect him to play." Edsall said. Junior Tyraiq Beals has earned the right to start at wide receiver over redshirt freshman Keyion Dixon, Edsall said.

g.keefe@theday.com

UConn cornerback Jamar Summers, who was banished the the locker room by head coach Randy Edsall after receiving an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty late in the third quarter of last Saturday's 52-12 loss to Missouri, will miss the first three quarters of this week's game against South Florida at Rentschler Field. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
UConn cornerback Jamar Summers, who was banished the the locker room by head coach Randy Edsall after receiving an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty late in the third quarter of last Saturday's 52-12 loss to Missouri, will miss the first three quarters of this week's game against South Florida at Rentschler Field. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

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