Coney goes from walk-on to scholarship player

STORRS — Just three months ago Bryan Coney, a sophomore wide receiver for the University of Connecticut, was talking about working hard to prove he had a role on the team since he was not on scholarship. That work has paid off.

The Naugatuck High School graduate and former preferred walk-on recently received some exciting news about something that he worked for all of his redshirt freshman year to achieve. He was awarded a full scholarship by the Huskies.

The surprise announcement was made in front of the team recently.

“It helps my family out financially, which is a big plus,” Coney said. “But I have the same mindset I had before. I have to move forward and add it to the other goals, which are getting on the field and helping this team win whatever way I can.”

Receiving a scholarship after the summer was not easy. Coney said summer workouts were among the toughest experiences in his life. However, he said it only made the team stronger going into training camp.

“We just came off one of the toughest summers we’ve endured in our whole lives,” Coney said. “So we were are all coming into this camp strong and it is looking that way on the practice field.”

Could the scholarship mean a larger role for Coney?

While the Huskies’ receiving corps is led by senior Noel Thomas and sophomore Hergy Mayala, UConn head coach Bob Diaco said in the spring that Coney will see the field this fall.

“Bryan is a good player,” Diaco told the Republican American in the spring. “He has good hands. He’s tough, big, physical and really works hard at the position. … Tough guy, diligent, cares, good hands and a strong football intelligence.”

Coney redshirted his freshman year and almost instantly stood out on the Huskies’ scout team. Before long, he was taking reps with the second-team offense. In UConn’s Blue-White game in the spring, Coney finished with five catches and 40 yards.

“What I’ve seen from the start of the spring until now is a guy who has improved greatly,” UConn wide receivers coach Erik Campbell told the Republican American in the spring. “There’s not one area he’s improved in; he’s improved in all of them.”

Coney said he and the team are always looking to improve in every area.

“Our goals are always high,” Coney said. “We are looking to do better than we did last year, better than we did last spring, and better than we did yesterday. If we just do what we do then we will be successful.”

Coney said he continues to do what his coaches instruct him to do, no matter what they ask of him.

“My goal this season is to do what is asked of me, no matter what phase it is that I’m on … whether it’s on one of the four running special teams or on offense,” Coney said.

Coney and the Huskies open up the season Sept. 1 when they host Maine at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.

The Republican-American contributed to this article.

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