EAST HARTFORD — At the American Athletic Conference media day last month, UConn football head coach Bob Diaco raved about the way tight end Tommy Myers had turned himself into “a force at the point of attack” over the offseason.
It didn’t take long for Myers to prove Diaco right.
On the Huskies’ first drive of the season, Myers capped a 13-play, 79-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Bryant Shirreffs. While Shirreffs’ pass was headed for Myers’ back shoulder, the redshirt sophomore tight end tapped the ball ahead to his front shoulder, gained possession and shook off three tacklers to give UConn (1-0) an early 6-0 lead en route to a 20-15 win at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field.
“It looked like he had an excellent football game, which isn’t a shock to anybody in our football family,” Diaco said on Myers’ performance. “This guy has reshaped his body, he’s become a formidable, in-line tight end at the point blocking and winning on the edge, he’s a weapon in the passing game and he bleeds blue.”
The Coventry native would finish the night as UConn’s leading receiver, catching two passes for 83 yards, including a 69-yard reception to open up the second half and set up Ron Johnson’s 2-yard touchdown run. Myers streaked down the middle of the field, beating his coverage and hauling in a pass from Shirreffs, nearly dragging a handful of Villanova players into the end zone.
“It was big, going into the half trailing, to come out and get a play like that to start the half is huge,” Myers said. “Have to give credit to my teammates to make the blocks to help me get open to make the catch.”
Despite playing in all 12 games last season, Myers was not a significant contributor on offense, recording only two receptions for eight yards. However, with the departure of tight end Sean McQuillan, Myers demonstrated with his performance against the Wildcats (0-1) that he is more than capable of filling in for one of UConn’s premier receiving threats last season.
Myers’ size, speed and hands make him an ideal fit in Diaco’s offensive scheme, causing matchup problems for the defense. Myers’ ability to haul in passes over the middle give other receivers such as Noel Thomas more room to operate on the outside and gives Shirreffs another big target in the passing game.
“It’s amazing when you have a player that can make plays like that,” Shirreffs said on Myers’ touchdown catch. “It makes my job a lot easier. I’m proud of him and the offensive line for the great job they did.”
While Myers is still a little rough around the edges – his tendency to tip the ball resulted in an interception in the red zone to close out the second half – his performance against Villanova showed a glimpse of his potential. His relationship with Shirreffs and pass-catching ability could vault him into the conversation as one of the best tight ends in the American.