UConn wide receiver Dwayne Difton transferred in May; the team's best receiver, Mike Smith, was ruled ineligible for the 2011 season in June; and now, days before the start of training camp, sophomore receiver Leon Kinnard has decided to leave the program in search of more playing time elsewhere.
According to the Hartford Courant's Desmond Conner, Kinnard will likely transfer to a Division I-AA school so that he can play immediately. Possible options include Towson State (Conner points out that Rob Ambrose, the former quarterbacks coach at UConn, recruited Kinnard, who hails from Reisterstown, Md.), Delaware and Villanova.
"I had a great time here, but I want to go somewhere where I can be on the field and get the best opportunity I can," Kinnard said, via Conner.
The Baltimore, Maryland, native missed most of last season with a foot injury, and it appears his opportunities would have been limited in 2011.
"After last season, going through what we went through … not getting the opportunity I wanted was lingering in the back of mind. … I want to go to a program that can utilize me and going down [to Division I-AA] I can do that, have fun and just play football. At the end of the day, that's all I want to do."
Kashif Moore returns as the Huskies' veteran wideout, and Isiah Moore, Geremy Davis and Tebucky Jones Jr. were likely ahead of Kinnard on the depth chart. Then there's tight end Ryan Griffin, considered one of the best at his position in the Big East.
All variables that explain why Kinnard is leaving school.
The ESPN scouting report on Kinnard coming out of high school described him as "a really good football player as an undersized quarterback that projects as a corner or running back at the next level. … [He's] a really good athlete that needs to settle in at the position that's the best fit and we feel it is likely on defense. Scrappy, fun player to watch."
Before his season-ending injury, Kinnard ran the ball four times in 2010 and threw it once, but it appears his versatility may have worked against him. Transferring to a D-IAA school should mean greater opportunity and more experience.
"I'm athletic enough to make the coaches forget that I'm not a typical receiver, 6 foot or over," Kinnard said, according to Conner. "I feel I could be very helpful to another program that runs an offense where they spread the ball out more and utilize their athletes. I'm not saying UConn isn't going to do that, but I just want to have the best opportunity I can, and I want it early. I don't want to have to wait until my junior year or four years out of high school."