Gazette: Mele Basks In Holmes' Shadow - UMass Athletics

Gazette: Mele Basks In Holmes' Shadow

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Check out this feature on senior linebacker Mike Mele in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

On almost any other team, linebacker Mike Mele would be a star. The Syracuse transfer is fifth in the Colonial Athletic Association with 9.9 tackles per game and has made 43 in the last three weeks.

But Mele, a senior who has started every game this season at middle linebacker for the University of Massachusetts, has been overshadowed this season by teammate and fellow linebacker Tyler Holmes.

Linebacker Mele basks in shadow of Holmes

AMHERST - On almost any other team, linebacker Mike Mele would be a star. The Syracuse transfer is fifth in the Colonial Athletic Association with 9.9 tackles per game and has made 43 in the last three weeks.

But Mele, a senior who has started every game this season at middle linebacker for the University of Massachusetts, has been overshadowed this season by teammate and fellow linebacker Tyler Holmes.

Holmes is fourth in the conference in tackles (10.7 per game) and leads the CAA with five interceptions. Holmes has been the national defensive player of the week once, the league's defensive player of the week twice and once the Gold Helmet recipient as the best Division I player in New England for his two interception showing against Maine.

No such love for Mele. He just keeps making tackles under the radar and he's fine with that.

"The biggest thing is the team. Maybe I'll reflect on (the numbers) later. Right now it's about beating Rhode Island. I feel like Coach Dud (Keith Dudzinski) is a great coach and has really helped me out. Tyler is a great player. They've all made it easier for me to make the plays I have to," Mele said. "We definitely play off each other. The guys up front are doing a great job too."

Mele's great 2010 followed a tough 2009. A suspension and an injury limited him to just three games after transferring from Syracuse. He relished the chance to have a full season healthy.

"It's been nice. I've been blessed. No injuries, no nothing. Hopefully it can stay that way," Mele said. "It's comforting to know I had an injury free season and had a lot of fun with my teammates."

UMass coach Kevin Morris said Mele has become what the coaching staff hoped he'd be when he signed.

"He's everything we thought. He had the pectoral tear that held him out half the season," Morris said. "He's had an excellent year for us and really controls the box. You don't get as much fanfare when you don't get those glorious interceptions, but he's making all the plays inside and having a great year for us. He's got a ton of tackles for us."

OPEN COMPETITION - Morris said there will be an open competition to kick field goals and extra points this week among incumbent Caleb Violette and freshmen Brendon Levengood and Igor Garcia.

Violette missed three field goals last week.

"It's an open competition. Before, somebody would have had to have an unbelievable week to supplant him. Now, it's best kicker is kicking Saturday. The door is wide open," Morris said. "To have a complete blow up like that is hopefully just a blip on the radar. Caleb has been rock solid. At one point he was the best kicker in the league. He had a couple bad kicks and went down hill this week. So it's best player plays."


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