Wide receiver Dwayne Difton arrived in Storrs from South Florida almost two years ago as one of the biggest recruits of the Randy Edsall era. He'll transfer from UConn before the start of his junior season having fallen short of expectations and leaving the Huskies with even more questions on offense.
Difton hopes to play closer to home, the Hartford Courant reported Tuesday. While the Huskies won't have to scramble to replace his on-field production (he caught 14 balls for 150 yards in 2010), Difton provided two things UConn desperately needs: depth and potential.
The ESPN scouting report on Difton coming out of high school was not only encouraging, but it made him seem like the type of player that could change a program.
"Difton is one of the most underrated wide receivers in the entire southeast," ESPN's Tom Luginbill said at the time. "He just makes plays and does so many things well. He is used to competing against high quality competition and he is ultra competitive in his work habits on game day. He has a go-to feel about him."
"This is a big pick-up for UConn because this has not been a program that has produced many playmakers in the passing game and he gives them some versatility and productivity and is just a darn good football player."
Michael Smith and Kashif Moore led the Huskies in receptions in 2010, but neither was considered a big-play threat. Smith averaged 13.4 yards per reception and Moore averaged 12.6. As we noted last month in a post about the receiver corps, compared to the rest of the Division I wideouts, Smith's 13.4 average ranked 168th. The top six WRs averaged at least 20 yards per reception, with UTEP's Kris Adams leading the nation with 22.8. The Huskies have room for improvement. Now they will have to do it without Difton, who struggled to adjust to life in Storrs, and the transition became even more difficult when good friend and teammate Jasper Howard was murdered in October, 2009.
A head-coaching change initially offered renewed hope but ultimately things just didn't work out.
"My confidence is through the roof," Difton told the Courant this spring. "We got a new coach and then we have to prove ourselves and I know how to compete very well, so I'm going to just continue to do what I gotta do — learn, watch and learn."
The Courant's Desmond Connor thinks that Difton's spot on the depth chart might have also played a role in his decision to transfer. In addition to Moore and Smith, Difton was also looking up at Isiah Moore, and possibly freshmen Geremy Davis and Tebucky Jones Jr.