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Huskies Wrap Up Two-Day Stretch at 2016 American Kickoff

Noel Thomas was one of four Huskies to attend the 2016 American Football Kickoff on August 1-2
Aug. 2, 2016

NEWPORT, R.I. - With less than a month until the 2016 season kicks off, UConn football head coach Bob Diaco and four Husky seniors wrapped up a busy two-day stretch at the American Athletic Conference Summer Kickoff in Newport on August 1-2.

Diaco, who enters his third year at the helm of the Connecticut program, was joined in Rhode Island by redshirt-senior offensive lineman Andreas Knappe (Silkeborg, Denmark), senior wide receiver Noel Thomas (Norwalk, Conn.), senior linebacker Matt Walsh (Madison, Conn.), and senior safety Obi Melifonwu (South Grafton, Mass.).

There was a session of media interviews on Monday afternoon, which was followed by the Annual New England Clambake - the most-popular event of any conference media day in the country.

Tuesday was a bevy of media activities as there were open media sessions for head coaches and student-athletes from all conference teams. 

"We have high expectations and no challenge daunts us, just look at the non-conference schedules we have played the past three years and are playing this year, and you will readily see that we do not back down, that we are unafraid to test ourselves against the best because we want to be the best," said American commissioner Mike Aresco in a speech to the teams and media on Tuesday morning. "The College Football Playoff selection committee has noted this and complimented us on it.  We will continue to play these schedules because that is who we are, an elite conference playing the highest level of competition. As Bear Bryant often said, to be a winner, the sacrifices one makes must be great, but the rewards are also great. We have lived that statement in our relatively short history. We never promised ourselves anything but hard work and sweat, and the sacrifices have paid off."

Earlier on Tuesday, the Huskies were picked to finish fourth in the East Division in the 2016 preseason media poll, garnering 130 points. Houston was selected as the conference's preseason favorite, grabbing 27 of 30 possible first-place votes.

The Huskies open the 2016 campaign against Maine on Thursday, Sept. 1 at Pratt & Whitney Stadium at Rentschler Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. on ESPN3.

For complete coverage of the event, go to