Top five athletes to watch this fall

With class back in session, fall sports are officially underway. While UConn fanssee the fall season as a countdown to basketball, UConn athletics is rich with talented teams and players throughout all seasons and the fall is no different. Here are five athletes worth watching this fall.

1. Obi Melifonwu

Defensive back Obi Melifonwu makes a tackle during a game against the Houston Cougars on November 21, 2015 at Pratt and Whitney Stadium in Hartford. (Bailey Wright/The Daily Campus)

Defensive back Obi Melifonwu makes a tackle during a game against the Houston Cougars on November 21, 2015 at Pratt and Whitney Stadium in Hartford. (Bailey Wright/The Daily Campus)

Football’s Melifonwu enters his redshirt senior season as one of the best strong safeties in the country. The 6-foot-3-inch Massachusetts native has a blend of size, strength and speed that makes him a versatile weapon for head coach Bob Diaco’s defense. Look for him to be playing on Sundays next year.

2. Noel Thomas

Noel Thomas, number 5, leads the team out onto the field in a game against Army on Sept. 12, 2015. (Bailey Wright/Daily Campus).

Noel Thomas, number 5, leads the team out onto the field in a game against Army on Sept. 12, 2015. (Bailey Wright/Daily Campus).

Melifonwu’s teammate Thomas looks to build off a breakout junior season for a strong senior campaign. The wide receiver was the Huskies’ top target last season, hauling in 54 passes for 719 yards and three touchdowns. According to Diaco, Thomas has stepped up his game this offseason and is poised to put up even bigger numbers in the UConn offense.

3. Rachel Hill

UConn junior forward Rachel Hill dribbles away from a Syracuse defender during the Huskies' game at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Connecticut on Sept. 3. 2015. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

UConn junior forward Rachel Hill dribbles away from a Syracuse defender during the Huskies' game at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Connecticut on Sept. 3. 2015. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

By the time Hill wraps up her collegiate career this season, she may well be the best player in the history of UConn soccer. With 45 goals in her first three seasons and two already this year, the senior forward has her eyes set on becoming the Huskies’ all-time scoring leader. After an All-American campaign last year with 16 goals and four assists, Hill serves as the leader of a deep and talented team looking to avenge a Sweet 16 exit in last season’s NCAA tournament.

4. Kwame Awuah

UConn men's soccer midfielder Kwame Awuah dribbles downfield during the Huskies' game against Yale at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Connecticut on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. Awuah scored UConn's lone goal in the 1-0 victory. (Allen Lang/The Daily Campus)

UConn men's soccer midfielder Kwame Awuah dribbles downfield during the Huskies' game against Yale at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Connecticut on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. Awuah scored UConn's lone goal in the 1-0 victory. (Allen Lang/The Daily Campus)

Last season, Awuah was a major factor in leading the UConn men’s soccer back to the NCAA tournament with his playmaking abilities. The Canadian midfielder led the American Athletic Conference with 12 assists in 2015, earning American Co-Midfielder of the Year honors and making the All-Conference First team. He’s picked up right where he left off to start this season, assisting on a goal in the Huskies’ 3-1 win over Iona.

5. Charlotte Veitner

Charlotte Veitner (26) and Amelia Iacobucci (9) celebrate a goal during UConn's 4-1 victory over Princeton on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015. The Huskies improved to 17-0 on the season with the victory. Veitner set the UConn single season record for points with 99 as a sophomore. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

Charlotte Veitner (26) and Amelia Iacobucci (9) celebrate a goal during UConn's 4-1 victory over Princeton on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015. The Huskies improved to 17-0 on the season with the victory. Veitner set the UConn single season record for points with 99 as a sophomore. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

Simply put, Veitner is an elite talent who serves as the backbone of one of the most successful athletic programs on campus: field hockey. The Dusseldorf, Germany native made program history last season as a sophomore, setting UConn single-season records for points (99) and goals (39) and led the country with 4.30 points per game. After being named a first-team All-American last season, Veitner will play a crucial role for the Huskies as they hope to make their fourth national championship game appearance in four years.


Dan Madigan is the sports editor for The Daily Campus, covering women's basketball. He can be reached via email at daniel.madigan@uconn.edu. He tweets @dmad1433.