UConn quarterback turned tight end Tyler Davis a fan of Jordan Reed
Storrs — After switching from quarterback to tight end over the summer, Tyler Davis studied football players that successfully navigated the same transition.
Offensive coordinator Frank Verducci recommended checking out Jordan Reed.
Reed, a former New London High School standout, arrived at Florida as a quarterback before moving to tight end. He now plays a starring role with the Washington Redskins.
"Coach Verducci, when I originally switched, told me about Jordan Reed who is one of the best tight ends in the NFL right now," Davis said Tuesday. "He was a quarterback when he came into Florida and they transferred him over to tight end. Look at him now.
"So I've been all over the Jordan Reed highlights on YouTube."
Davis, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound redshirt freshman, is growing into his new role at UConn.
Through five games, he's third on the team with 11 receptions covering 107 yards. He caught his first and only career touchdown pass — a 24-yarder from Bryant Shirreffs — in a 31-24 loss to Syracuse.
Davis is gradually learning the proper blocking techniques, making significant progress.
"It's a lot to learn, a lot more than you think," he said. "A lot more technique and footwork and leverage than I ever knew. I like to think I'm getting better each and every day and I'll continue to get better."
Coach Bob Diaco has still found a way to utilize Davis' quarterback skills. Davis completed his only two pass attempts during fake field goal attempts, going for 42 yards.
"He's been fantastic," Diaco said. "What was initially met with some trepidation ends up being, wow, I can't imagine that I would be doing anything other than this. That's how it looks. He's really a weapon for that position. ... He starting to learn how to block. ... So he's really coming around. He's developing every day."
It's a whole new world for Davis, who never caught a pass during high school at Mepham in Bellmore, N.Y. As a senior, the dual-threat quarterback threw for 1,092 yards and 13 touchdowns and ran for 1,553 yards and 22 touchdowns.
At UConn, Davis was stuck behind Shirreffs and senior Garrett Anderson on the depth chart at quarterback. He saw some action in the 2016 spring game, completing 10 passes for 83 yards.
Davis has too much athletic ability and talent to stand on the sideline.
"That doesn't make any sense," Diaco said of Davis sitting out. "He's got to do something for the team. So that's where it was born out of, just that thought process. Let's let this big, tough, fast, smart, caring, football-loving individual get some game action."
Davis' skill set suited him for either outside linebacker or tight end, according to Diaco. Given his familiarity with the offense, tight end made more sense.
The transition was difficult at first. But he eventually settled in nicely.
"So far, it's been working out," Davis said. "It was tough at first. Definitely a lot different playing in the trenches than wearing a red jersey back there. But I've loved every second of it."
UConn (2-3, 0-2) plays a pivotal American Athletic Conference game against Cincinnati (3-2, 0-2) at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.
The Huskies are coming off a 42-14 loss at No. 6 Houston. They continued a troubling trend of giving up too many explosive plays on defense and failing to execute opportunities on offense.
Davis believes the Huskies have been close to breaking out on offense.
"There's been a bunch of plays where we're just one block away from busting this thing open," Davis said. "That gives us a lot of confidence knowing that we're just a few inches away from really executing and really getting this thing together."
As far as his future, Davis no longer considers himself a quarterback. He's all in on the tight end position.
"I think I'm going to stick with tight end," Davis said. "Coach Diaco and myself and all the coaches really like my progress that I've been making. That's definitely for the future, too."
News and notes
• Senior safety Obi Melifonwu is leading the team in tackles with 47. He's recorded double digit tackles in four straight games. "Obi is playing exactly like we expected him to," Diaco said. "He has been outstanding." ... Senior wide receiver Noel Thomas ranks second in the AAC and sixth in the country in receptions per game at 9.2. ... Diaco called his linebackers as good as any group at that spot in the country. ... Knock on wood: "At this point, we're healthier than we've been in a long time," Diaco said. ... UConn and Cincinnati are tied for last in the six-team East Division. ... The Huskies are one of three AAC teams with losing overall records. SMU (2-3) and East Carolina (2-3) are the others. ... Former Husky Andrew Adams, an undrafted rookie, started at safety for the New York Giants in Monday night's loss at Minnesota. He finished with six tackles.
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