UMass Athletics
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story on kicker Blake Lucas who is looking to bounce back this year after a tough 2013 season. Lucas and special teams coordinator say a few tweaks during the offseason have helped rebuild mechanics and confidence.

Courtesy Thom Kendall for UMass Athletics 
UMass junior kicker Blake Lucas is competing with freshmen Matthew Wylie for the starting job. Last season, Lucas missed seven of 10 attempts before being benched, but after a strong spring that has carried over to preseason, he is expected to handle extra points and field goals for the Minutemen.

Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire has a feature on the return of UMass wide receiver Marken Michel who is back with the team after spending the 2013 campaign away from the program.

"All slates are clean. I have to prove to them that I can play," Michel said. "But most importantly I want to prove to myself and the UMass nation that I can play. If I do that, everything else will take care of itself."  The year off gave him a new appreciation for playing football.  "I missed it," he said. "You're always going to miss something you love. Being back is amazing."

Mark Chiarelli of the Daily Collegian spoke with UMass quarterback A.J. Doyle on the change in culture surrounding the football program under head coach Mark Whipple.

"There is a lot more energy, it's a lot better energy too," Doyle said. "It's just a lot more fun to be right here. Obviously with the coaches, new systems, everyone is just excited to play football."

Maria Uminski/Daily Collegian

Mark Chiarelli of the Daily Collegian looks at how fifth-year senior linebacker Stanley Andre's leadership will be key in helping the Minutemen transition into new defensive coordinator Tom Masella's 3-4 scheme.

Photo by Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

"He's great, he's been absolutely terrific," Masella said of his 6-foot-2, 240 pound linebacker. "He's a calming influence and a voice of reason with our kids on the team that puts them in a comfortable position. And at the same time, he's a very good football player, he's a smart football player who really works at it."

Mark Chiarelli of the Daily Collegian has a feature on transfer quarterback Blake Frohnapfel and his transition into Mark Whipple's offensive scheme.

"To have a chance to come here and have a chance to play under him and just listen to some of the things he says about certain plays and footwork and stuff like that is where you can really tell he knows a lot about the quarterback position," Frohnapfel said.

Mark Chiarelli of the Daily Collegian has a short Q&A with UMass cornerback and return man Trey Dudley-Giles from earlier this week as preseason camp officially began for the Minutemen.

Courtesy of Daniel Malone/Masslive

Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has an in-depth look at the UMass defense under new coordinator Tom Masella.

"I think at the end of day, my philosophy has been to give multiple looks and blitz from different angles with different people," said Masella, who previously coached the defense at UMass under Whipple from 2002-03. "We're not only playing 3-4. We'll play other things. For me, that allows us to be multiple.  "That's the biggest difference from a year ago."


Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story on running back Jordan Broadnax and his return to the field this week after missing the 2013 season with a knee injury suffered in last season's preseason camp.

 "It's a pleasure to be out here. I'm just happy to be playing again," Broadnax said after practice Thursday. "It's been a long, uphill climb and I'm still climbing today. Just to get back on the field, that's an enjoyment in itself."


Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican spoke with new wide receiver Alex Kenney this week after practice and has short five-question Q&A posted from his interview.


Zach Babo of Inside Lacrosse was on-site at Homewood Field in Baltimore for UMass men's lacrosse alumnus Will Manny's STX photo shoot. Manny recently signed with STX as a sponsor and will represent the brand with its "Surgeon" line of lacrosse gear.

Babo took a couple minutes to talk to Manny about a variety of things, including the Boston Cannon's playoff run, signing with STX and his continued presence in the New England lacrosse community.

Will Manny's STX Shoot | Zach Babo, Inside Lacrosse