Notebook: Blue and white spring football game
Published: Monday, April 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012 11:04
On Saturday the UConn football team held its annual Blue vs. White spring football game at Rentschler field, giving the public their first look at the Huskies before they start the 2012 season in the fall.
As 5,500 of the UConn faithful lined the lower sections at Rentschler field, the atmosphere was uplifting. The wonderful smell of grilled food filled the parking lot from the tailgaters and Husky fans of all ages that got to cheer on their favorite players. The mood was the right combination of competition and fun.
“I had some jitters early, but once you get out there and hit they all go away and you are playing football,” said running back Max DeLorenzo, who played in his first spring game ever this year as a red shirt freshman. “It was great.” DeLorenzo finished the game with six rushing yards and nine receiving yards for the Blue team, which lost 14-5 to the White team.
“I just wanted to go out there and have fun with the guys,” said quarterback Michael Nebrich. “I think I did that so I had a great time with it.” Nebrich, who split time with Chandler Whitmer on the White team, completed 5 of 9 passes for 48 yards. When asked about the mood of the game, he said it was a combination of fun and hard work. “You have to have your time when you’re serious and you have to have your set time when you can have your fun, but I think it’s a combination of both.”
Although the general consensus amongst the players and fans was that the spring game was a fun time, for one player, the sentiment was more complicated.
“It’s always going to be hard watching your boys go out there and play the game that you love,” said running back DJ Shoemate, who’s football playing career unfortunately ended this year due to nagging shoulder injuries. “Of course I want to go out there and contribute physically, but it’s good to be a part of it and to be able to end this experience here in the Rent,” said Shoemate.
Shoemate, who was a transfer from USC in 2010, originally hurt his shoulder on Sept. 16 in the 24-20 loss against Iowa State last year. In an interview with Desmond Conner of the Hartford Courant, Shoemate explained how he both dislocated and separated his shoulder against the Cyclones, which ended his 2011 season. Shoemate reinjured his shoulder and had arthroscopic surgery a few weeks ago.
Although he could not play in the spring game, he still wore his jersey on the sidelines and cheered his teammates on. Before the game, Shoemate had some words of wisdom to share with Huskies young running back unit.
“I told them I appreciate all the memories. I really appreciate what you guys have done for me in helping me grow as a person. With that being said go out there and kick the defenses butt, whether you’re on Blue or White. Go out there have fun together and cherish this moment… I just tried to tell them to cherish this game,” said Shoemate.
In last year’s spring game Shoemate impressed Husky fans with 110 rushing yards on 19 carries and a touchdown.