Recently in Football Category
Here is a look at Saturday's alumni tour of the new UMass Football Performance Center which was part of the program's "We Built Weekend".
You have to give UMass football alum Victor Cruz for his creative ability and showmanship as he demonstrates here in his marriage proposal to longtime girlfriend Elaina.
Several local media outlets along with the UMass Sports Network covered Wednesday's MAC Media Day at Ford Field in Detroit. Here's a look at some of the story lines that came from interviews with Mark Whipple, Stanley Andre and Tajae Sharpe as they represented the Minutemen.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican continues his countdown of the Top 25 UMass football players to watch for the 2014 season. At No. 14 on the chart is Penn State transfer Alex Kenney who will add depth and speed to the wide receiver corps.
Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger has a story on UMass football alum Michael Cox who was a seventh-round draft pick of the New York Giants following the 2012 season. Cox earned a spot on last year's active roster with the Giants and will continue to fight for a place on the team entering the 2014 campaign.
Tom Chard of the Portland Press Herald has a feature story on incoming UMass football freshman Andrew Libby who will take part in this weekend's Lobster Bowl all-star game. Libby suffered a season-ending injury in the last year's opener missing his senior season. He was the Maine Player of the Year as a junior.
The Pittsburgh Steelers website has a Getting To Know feature of Rob Blanchflower to help introduce the UMass alum and seventh round draft pick to their fans. Blanchflower says the blue-collar toughness of Pittsburgh is a great fit for him because it reminds him of central Massachusetts.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has incoming tight ends Jean Sifrin and Jon Denton, both junior college transfers, as being tied as No. 15 on his top 25 players to watch list for UMass football this season. Sifrin seems to be a strong receiving tight end, while Denton looks to be more of a point-of-attack blocker with good hands in the pass game. The combo combined with UMass' returning corps of tight ends will give the Minutemen several options in replacing Rob Blanchflower who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers this past May.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican continues his look at the top 25 players to watch this upcoming season for the UMass football team with wide receiver Marken Michel ranking No. 16 in the countdown. Michel returns to the team after being away last season, but adds immediate depth as a speedy and athletic slot receiver. His return adds to what is beginning to look like an interesting position group with a lot of potential on the offensive side of the ball.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican comments on a video produced by the UMass Sports Network which shows coach Mark Whipple introducing the team to its new locker room in the UMass Football Performance Center.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story on how having a trio of coaches from Charley Molnar's staff - Ted Daisher, Dave Sollazzo, and Shane Waldron - has helped make Mark Whipple's transition smooth since he took over the hiring. The veteran trio are praised for their coaching ability, but it's also pointed out that the group has helped keep recruiting strong while also keeping relationships strong with the current players.
Dan Malone picks Tyshon Henderson as the No. 17 UMass player to keep an eye on this season as Malone continues to unveil his top 25 players list during the summer. The sophomore gained valuable experience in 2013 as a back-up for starters Anthony Dima and David Osei. With a large frame and innate strength, Henderson will vie for one of the open tackle spots during August camp.
Dan Malone's Players To Watch countdown continues to roll forward with his addition of center Matt Sparks at No. 18 on the list. Malone says Sparks has experience and has shown improvement over each of the last two seasons. The Hawaii native is also one of two returning offensive line starters returning this season which will make him a key leader on the team.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican ranks Jalen Williams as the No. 19 player to watch this season for UMass football. Williams transferred to UMass prior to the spring from Dean College and showed his skill as a wide receiver during spring camp. Williams adds to an interesting mix of players at the position which has promise to help the offense move the ball.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican continues his top 25 players to watch countdown as the 2014 UMass football season continues to get closer. On Monday, he had defensive tackle Daniel Maynes as the No. 20 player to keep an eye on this year. Malone says Maynes' experience on the line will make him an anchor as a nose tackle in the new 3-4 scheme.
Boston sports personality and UMass alum Steve Buckley predicted a win for the UMass football team in the season-opener against Boston College on August 30 in Gillette Stadium. Buckley made his prediction during this segment where each of his co-hosts on the Sports Tonight Crew made their bold predictions on various sports topics.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican ranks Da'Sean Downey as the No. 21 player to watch on his Top 25 for 2014. A freshman who enrolled at UMass during the spring semester, Downey turned heads of fans and media during the Spring Game with an outstanding performance from his outside linebacker position.
Dan Malone's countdown of the top 25 players to watch in 2014 hit No. 22 on Saturday with wide receiver Shaukur Nesmith taking the honors. Nesmith showed flashes of high productivity during last year's preseason camp, but an injury during the season-opener at Wisconsin sidelined him for the rest of the season. A healthy Nesmith along with several other new wide receivers, could give the Minutemen a lot of capable targets in the passing game this season.
Justin Rogers of Mlive.com has a look at how some of the new changes in Detroit have brought a great sense of hope for the Lions sparked in part because of UMass football alum James Ihedigbo.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican continued his top 25 countdown of UMass football players to watch with safety Joey Colton coming in at No. 23. Malone writes that Colton is one of the top players on the defense and is one of the "foundation guys" and will be a key to success this season.
Saba Aziz has a feature on Mark Whipple's return to the sidelines of the UMass football program with quotes from Tajae Sharpe and Trey Dudley-Giles on their expectations for the 2014 season.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican continues his look at the top 25 players to watch this season for UMass football. At No. 24, he goes with Logan Laurent and newly added Brian McDonald as the pair battle for the top spot at punter.
As we creep closer to the start of preseason football, Springfield Republican beat writer Dan Malone will share his top 25 players to keep an eye on this year for the Minutemen. Starting off the group at No. 25 is sophomore running back Shadrach Abrokwah who surprised many fans last year by averaging over 100 yards rushing in the final two games.
Ryan Petrovich of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had a story last week on the NFL Rookie Symposium with several quotes from former UMass standout Rob Blanchflower. The Leominster native was the seventh round draft pick for the Steelers back in May and discusses how veterans on the team help make the transition to the NFL easier with their guidance.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story this afternoon on how the first day of July officially kicks-off preseason coverage of the Minutemen. Malone describes several interesting story lines for the season and gives fans an update as to what to expect coverage-wise as we get closer to the start of the season.
Caleb Calhoun of SaturdayBlitz.com has a top 10 list of coaching hires in college football this past season. At No. 10, he has Mark Whipple's return to UMass which he says could have the Minutemen back on the winning side of the ledger very soon.
10. Mark Whipple: Massachusetts
Mark Whipple's return to the Minutemen after 11 years is obviously highlighted by a drastic change in the dynamics of the program since he left it in 2003: They're in FBS now. And they have been 1-11 each of the past two seasons, they're first two in Division 1A. But when Whipple took over in 1998 the program had gone 2-9 the year before, and he turned it around immediately to go 12-3. Whipple also comes back to UMASS with more NFL experience working with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Cleveland Browns. For UMASS's level, there may be some growing pains, but he could have them back to winning again very soon.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican writes about the latest tour video produced by the @UMassSportsNet crew as the new UMass Football Performance Center gets closer to being completed. The team will begin to move in to use many of the functional team spaces such as the equipment room, locker room and weight room beginning July 1.
Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press has a story on James Ihedigbo's ability to fit in with his new team, the Detroit Lions, and become a leader due to his familiarity with new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. Ihedigbo played for Austin for the previous two seasons with Baltimore.
Tom Fargo of Wicked Local Walpole has a feature on incoming offensive lineman Dan DiNicola who played last week in the 36th Annual Aleppo Shriners High School Football All-Star Classic. The story focus' on DiNicola's life-long relationship with Noah Kung as they played against each other one final time.
Dan Graziano of ESPN New York has a feature on Victor Cruz which profiles the former UMass standout as one of the key, veteran leaders on the team this season. Despite playing a position known for players wanting to make highlight plays, Graziano says Cruz told his coaches at training camp that he wanted to improve his blocking to be able to help the team this year.
"He's that way," Giants receivers coach Sean Ryan said last week. "For the kind of quick ascent he's had, none of that has ever gone to his head or to his work ethic. He's the same guy he was the day he walked in here in terms of working hard and being down to earth and wanting to be a complete football player. You've got to respect that."
Dan Benton of Giants101.com has a story on New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz who has been nominated for a Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Award. Benton writes that Cruz has become an international phenomenon and has established himself as a universal brand thanks in part to his touchdown celebrating salsa dance.
Cruz's post-TD salsa is now so famous that it has even been nominated for a Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Award in the category "Party Like A Sports Star," which honors the best celebrations across the sports world.
But the salsa isn't just a meaningless celebration for Cruz. Rather, it's to honor his late Grandmother and something that has become very meaningful for Cruz and his family.
The UMass Sports Network was on hand this past Monday as the first load of new equipment for the weight room was delivered to the UMass Football Performance Center.
Much of the building is now complete with shipments of equipment, furniture and graphics expected to be delivered and installed within the next week.
The team is expected to begin moving in to use the lower part of the building during the first week of July.
Art Stapleton of NorthJersey.com has a feature story on Victor Cruz who is now the longest tenured wide receiver for the New York Giants. The fan-favorite Cruz says he still has a lot of improvement possible and that is his goal each year. Stapleton also writes that Cruz is now one of the players that the Giants are looking to for leadership among players.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story on Trey Duley-Giles and Tajae Sharpe being named to the Athlon Sports All-MAC preseason teams last Thursday. Dudley-Giles was named the second-team punt and kick returner, while Sharpe was named to the third-team offense as a wide receiver.
Dan Malone has a second story on UMass football head coach Mark Whipple from his guest appearance on the SiriusXM show College Football Playbook on Wednesday afternoon. Whipple talks about the excitement in the Western Mass community and among the players and staff as games will return to McGuirk Stadium this season as construction of the new press box and football performance center will be complete.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a feature today on Mark Whipple who was a guest on SiriusXM's College Football Playbook on Wednesday afternoon. Malone writes about some of the major improvements around the UMass campus, not just in athletics, that made returning as head coach very appealing to him.
Former UMass football standout tight end Rob Blanchflower is mentioned in a story on Steelers.com about the programming provided for Pittsburgh's rookies which helps acclimate them to the franchise as well as the NFL. Part of the programming includes guest speakers on finance and professionalism as an NFL employee. Rookies also do work in the community, learn other life lessons and are given advice and guidance on how to make the most of their opportunities outside of football.
"Anyone that leaves college and has to go to the real world to a job has to deal with a lot of things they didn't have to deal with growing up," said tight end Robert Blanchflower, the team's seventh-round draft pick. "It's like taking Finance 101 and Life Skills 101. I think the biggest thing to all of us were taxes. When you are a student you aren't dealing with that. I don't think anyone realized how serious that was. But setting up for the future, a 401K and financial advisors, most things 22-years old right out of college don't always have to deal with.
"There is a great support system here. We learn a lot about finances and being responsible so there is no negative feedback on the program, ourselves or our families. Being aware of things that are out there and getting educated helps with the learning curve and the process of maturing and getting into the professional workplace."
"Talking to other friends on other teams, they aren't as thorough as they are here," said Blanchflower. "It's a blessing they take the time out to get the resources to help us."
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story looking at the UMass football offensive line which lost several key components to graduation last year in Anthony Dima, David Osei and Vincent Westcarr - each of whom started nearly every game in 2013. UMass improved its rushing average and sacks allowed total last season compared to 2012 which was the Minutemen's first season at the FBS level.
Carolos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press has a story featuring James Ihedibgo who talks about the new attitude of the Detroit Lions' defense. Ihedigbo joined the Lions in the offseason with his former defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.
Josh Katzenztein of the Detroit News has a story on the Detroit Lions as the prepare for a month off during the off-season. In the story, he mentions the leadership role UMass' James Ihedigbo has taken as a veteran member of the defense.
"Be smart, take care of your bodies, take care of your family and come back ready to win a championship," safety James Ihedigbo said. "The work doesn't stop because you leave. It only progresses, so that's what we're doing."
The 30-year-old Ihedigbo has already assumed a leadership role with his new team after spending the past two years with the Baltimore Ravens. And even though he's one of the vocal leaders of the defense, he didn't feel much need to remind younger players how to behave during their break.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story on UMass' announcement on the changing of sidelines at McGuirk Stadium starting this fall. UMass will now use the East side of the stadium as the Home Side, while the West side (press box) will become the visiting sideline.
A letter was sent last week to season ticket holders explaining the move and giving them the option to switch or keep their longtime seats if desired.
Over the last several days, UMass Director of Athletics John McCutcheon has spoken to several reporters on the conference search for UMass football, how the transition has been progressing over the last several years, and his overall assessment of the program.
In a lengthy interview with Ron Chimelis of the Springfield Republican on Wednesday, McCutcheon said he sees many aspects of growth to remain positive about including attendance growth and having games back at McGuirk Stadium this year.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a look at the kick-off times and tv assignments which were released by the MAC last week. The Boston College and Colorado games are both set for 3 PM opening kickoffs on ESPN3, while the Bowling Green game at McGuirk Stadium will also kick-off at 3 PM.
Additionally, single-game tickets for Gillette games are on sale from June 6-12 for season ticket holders, while the general public can buy these tickets starting June 13.
Herb Zurkowsky of the Montreal Gazette has a feature on Brandon London as he works this year to bounce back from a disappointing 2013 campaign with the Montreal Alouettes. London finished the year with just 22 receptions for 299 yards in 15 games. That came after a 2012 season where he had 43 catches for 843 yards in 12 games.
Through the opening week of camp, London has been one of the team's best receivers, literally catching everything. Rather than setting goals, he wants to be himself; be consistent. If he takes care of that, London's convinced the numbers will come.
"My teammates know I'm out here, working," he said. "As long as I'm open when that ball comes, make that catch when it comes, everything will take care of itself."
Saba Aziz of the Boston Herald has a profile of Joe Previte who will be a walk-on lineman this fall after having a standout career at Brockton High School before doing a postgraduate year at Northfield Mount Hermon last fall.
Chad Garner of the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise has a profile of all-time UMass great Milt Morin as one of the area's top 25 local athletes.
Deanne Morin says her brother Milt was "outgoing, friendly and funny" off the football field, but on the gridiron, "he was an animal."
Leominster native Milt Morin, who starred at St. Bernard's, was certainly a household name in the area and his burning desire to dominate led him to become a first-round draft pick by the National Football League's Cleveland Browns, where he enjoyed a fantastic, 10-year professional career.
"He was quite an athlete," said Deanne Morin, 67, who resides in Leominster and is one of eight siblings in the Morin family. "He was a busy boy. He played all the sports and he played all the time."
With the announcement of eight walk-on players yesterday, including five from the Bay State, several news outlets carried stories highlighting the newest additions to the football program.
UMass alum James Ihedigbo is quoted in the Detroit News and NBC Sports on stories focusing on the revamped defense for the Detroit Lions this upcoming season. Ihedigbo played for new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin in Baltimore and says the game plan will focus on being "hard-hitting" and "physical".
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story featuring UMass football's selections to the Phil Steele preseason All-MAC squad with Trey Dudley-Giles, Randall Jette, Stanley Andre and Tajae Sharpe all receiving recognition.
Neal Coolong of SBNation's BehindTheSteelCurtain.com has a story on five questions about the Pittsburgh Steelers during the OTA session of the offseason. One of those questions addresses UMass tight end Rob Blanchflower and where he will fit into the Steelers offense.
Don't be shocked to see tight end Rob Blanchflower make a serious run at a roster spot over the next 12 weeks. He has decent athleticism, and this is a team that would have given David Johnson a serious look at fullback in 2012 had he not blown out his ACL in the team's first preseason game. Blanchflower is a similar kind of player. Using the team's seldom-used fullback as its third tight end frees up a roster spot for that sixth wide receiver, should they want to go that route.
Matt Stewart of the Fitchburg Sentinel & Enterprise has a great feature story on Rob Blanchflower and his path to the NFL Draft.
"Minicamp was an initiation by fire for me because I hadn't practiced in almost a year with my injury senior year of college," Blanchflower said. "Last year I only played on game day, and haven't really practiced since last August. Making it through it was tough, but also proved to me the level of fitness and mental discipline to make it in the league."
Scott Brown of ESPN.com has a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers tight ends with several mentions of Rob Blanchflower and how he could impact the team.
Most significant addition: Blanchflower. The Steelers really like this under-the-radar prospect who set UMass' record for career receiving yards by a tight end (1,164). Blanchflower can block as well as catch passes, and tight ends coach James Daniels said, "He has a high level of aggression."
Dan Ventura of the Boston Herald has a story on the inaugural Gridiron Showcase football camp hosted at Bishop Fenwick High School on June 28-29. The event's organizer, Pat Downey, says he hopes the camp and the series of guest speakers will help the players see football as a difference maker in their overall lives that helps them learn life skills.
In addition to the coaching, Downey has lined up a list of guest speakers. Among the current NFL players slated to appear are James Develin (Patriots), Michael Cox (Giants) and Emil Igwenagu (Eagles).
"We wanted to have a local flavor with the speakers. Develin being with the Patriots, Cox is from Dorchester and Emil played at Holy Name and UMass," Downey said. "We feel like a lot of local coaches are getting excited about this. We're very appreciative of (Bishop Fenwick coach and AD) David Woods for hosting this event and all of his support.
"What I really hope we can accomplish with this is to try to use football to make a difference in people's lives like it did for me. We want the kids who come here to learn football but also to learn life skills as well."
Earlier this week, it was formally announced that Anthony Dima was one of 11 undrafted free agents signed by the NFL's Cleveland Browns. Dima played in 34 games for UMass making 31 career starts. He helped the Minutemen dramatically improve its pass protection in 2013 allowing just 16 sacks compared to 32 in 2012 - its first season at the FBS level.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story on Rob Blanchflower who spent his first day with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Tuesday. Blanchflower was taken in the 7th round of the NFL Draft by the organization last Saturday becoming the third Minuteman since 2010 to be selected in the draft.
Fans, teammates and media outlets shared their thoughts on Twitter over the weekend after Rob Blanchflower was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 7th round of the NFL Draft on Saturday. Blanchflower is the third Minuteman since 2010 to be taken in the NFL Draft.
Here is just a small sampling of those tweets:
Casey Viera of ABC40 in Springfield caught up with Rob Blanchflower prior to the 2014 NFL Draft to see what a day in his life was like leading up to his being selected in the 7th round by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
One of UMass' most popular players of the past two seasons had his dreams come true on Saturday afternoon as Rob Blanchflower was taken in the 7th round of the NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The tight end from Leominster was a fan favorite not just for his skill and football ability, but for his toughness and off-the-field personality.
UMass alum Brendan Hall (happy belated birthday) has a terrific profile of UMass tight end Rob Blanchflower who is expected to be picked in this weekend's NFL Draft. Hall chronicles Blanchflower's path to college including his initial decision to forego scholarship offers by taking out a $15,000 student loan to attend UMass.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican looks at Rob Blanchflower's NFL Draft potential in this weekend's event and he takes a look at UMass football's history in the AFL/NFL Draft. The Minutemen have had three players drafted in the last four years.
UMass football draft history1964 - HB Fred Lewis | Oakland Raiders (AFL), 17th round (135th overall)
1965 - FB Phil Vandersea | Green Bay Packers, 16th round (220th) & Denver Broncos (AFL), 9th round
1965 - QB Jerry Whelchel | San Diego Chargers (AFL), 9th round (70th)
1966 - TE Milt Morin | Cleveland Browns, 1st round (14th) & San Diego Chargers (AFL), 3rd round (24th)
1966 - TE Bob Meers | Minnesota Vikings, 7th round (106th)
1966 - DE/HB Bob Ellis | Cleveland Browns, 15th round (229th) & Boston Patriots (AFL), 10th round
1966 - DT Ed Toner | Baltimore Colts, 18th round (275th)
1968 - QB Greg Landry | Detroit Lions, 1st round (11th)
1970 WR Steve Parnell | Atlanta Falcons, 16th round (403rd)
1971 - G Bubba Pena | Cleveland Browns, 4th round (92nd)
1971 - TE Nick McGarry | Boston Patriots, 15th round (365th)
1972 - G John Hulecki | Pittsburgh Steelers, 15th round (368th)
1972 - DT Harold Parmenter | Denver Broncos, 15th round (370th)
1973 - DB Paul Metallo | Kansas City Chiefs, 13th round (329th)
1974 - QB Peil Pennington | Denver Broncos, 15th (379th)
1974 - WR Tim Berra | Baltimore Colts, 17th round (421st)
1975 - DE Bill Cooke | Green Bay Packers, 10th round (244th)
1976 - DT Ed McAleney | Pittsburgh Steelers, 8th round (237th)
1979 - G Bruce Kimball | Pittsburgh Steelers, 7th round (192nd)
1980 - K Sandro Vitiello | Cincinnati Bengals, 10th round (252nd)
1999 - LB Khari Samuel | Chicago Bears, 5th round (144th)
2010 - G Vladimir Ducasse | New York Jets, 2nd round (61st)
2013 - RB Michael Cox | New York Giants, 7th round (253rd)
John Connolly of the Boston Herald has a feature on Rob Blanchflower and the upcoming NFL Draft. Connolly focuses on Blanchflower's path to the draft and how the return of coach Mark Whipple has helped him.
"Coach Whipple has been great. Every scout and NFL coach that has come in here speaks so highly of him and tells me what a great guy he is. He's really helped me a lot," Blanchflower said. "He has reached out to me. He loves UMass. He loves it here. He is so passionate about the university."
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a collection of quotes from various media outlets which cover the NFL regarding UMass tight end Rob Blanchflower, his strengths as an NFL player and predictions as to where he will be picked in this weekend's NFL Draft.
And in case your forgot, Rob Blanchflower did this...
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican takes a look at some of the possible teams who could sign UMass' Rob Blanchflower in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft. Two possibilities are teams with local and current UMass ties in the New England Patriots and the New York Giants.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a profile of rising junior linebacker Kassan Messiah who says he is excited about UMass' change to a 3-4 defense.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story on Rob Blanchflower and how the move of the NFL Draft from April to May has been beneficial for him. Blanchflower has been recovering from postseason surgery and was finally able to work out for scouts on April 23 after missing the NFL Combine, Pro Day and several other events.
"It went really well," said Blanchflower, who drew representatives from 15 NFL teams last week for his solo pro day on April 23. "I could do all the tight end specific drills, running around, catching, blocking and things like that. I think I did a good job showing I could play the position."
Had the draft been in April, he might not have been healthy in time to get the chance.
"The fact that I could move my pro day back so far was definitely a blessing for me," Blanchflower said. "They could see I'm recovering. I was moving fluidly, moving around like an athlete, not some old stiff coming off of surgery. I'm going to be able to do all the things I'm capable of doing. That was the most important thing, showing that I'm healthy."
Dan Malone has a story on incoming graduate transfer Alex Kenney from Penn State who just placed 2nd as part of the Nittany Lions' sprint medley relay team at the Penn Relays.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a profile of Trey Dudley-Giles which includes a short question and answer series. TDG is one of several experienced members of the UMass secondary which projects to be a strength of the Minutemen this fall.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story on freshman linebacker Da'Sean Downey and his impressive performance during the Spring Game to cap off spring practice. An early enrollee, Malone writes that being able to take advantage of an early semester with the program has been beneficial for Downey's development.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has an editorial on UMass football's 2015 schedule and how it looks to be more competitive for the Minutemen as they continue their transition into the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story featuring UMass football quarterback A.J. Doyle and how he feels now that spring camp is finished. Doyle says he is confident in where the offense is and that he plans to take a big leadership role in the offseason workouts leading up to preseason camp.
Featured columnist Ron Borges of the Boston Herald spent a day recently with UMass football head coach Mark Whipple to see exactly how things were going with the program. Borges was alongside Whipple from a 7:30 AM meeting all the way through an evening practice at McGuirk Stadium to see what made him tick, how the team was responding, and to get a feel for what the future will be like for the Minutemen.
The defense looked impressive throughout the night turning in several highlight plays, but wide receivers Jalen Williams and Shakur Nesmith each put on displays for the offense with several outstanding plays of their own as Team Minutemen defeated Team UMass in the annual Spring Game on Wednesday night at McGuirk Stadium.
Rich Thompson of the Boston Herald has a story on the transition UMass football has undergone with Mark Whipple back as head coach. At not other position is the transition more evident than at quarterback with the switch from a spread, shot gun offense to a pro-style scheme.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a preview of Wednesday night's UMass Football Spring Game which kicks off at 7 PM. The format of the game will be the first string offense vs. the first string defense followed by the second team units.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican includes Tajae Sharpe in today's edition of "5 Questions With..." Sharpe is one of the top offensive skill position players returning in 2014 and is expected to be a big playmaker for the Minutemen in Mark Whipple's new pro-style offense.
Nick Canelas of the Daily Collegian has a preview of tonight's UMass football Spring Game which starts at 7 PM. Canelas breaks down the format of the game and what fans should look for from the Minutemen as spring camp concludes tonight.
Following a strong end to his 2012 season as a freshman, kicker Blake Lucas experienced some disappointed on the field last season. With renewed confidence this spring, the rising junior is looking forward to making a strong comeback according to Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican.
As part of our Spring Football coverage, the UMass Sports Network wanted to see what life is like from one UMass' most explosive players - Trey Dudley-Giles. Check Out The MinuteCam to see practice from TDG's perspective as he goes through drills, talks to teammates and even returns punts.
Chris McCosky of the Detroit News has a story on UMass alum James Ihedigbo and his impact on the Detroit Lions during the offseason. Ihedigbo has won a Super Bowl, played in another, and has been to multiple division title games during his NFL career.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a profile piece on wide receiver Shakur Nesmith who returned this spring after missing much of last season due to injury. Malone also goes 5 questions with Nesmith about spring camp, the upcoming season and returning from injury.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a profile piece on running back Shadrach Abrokwah who had a break-out end of the year last season as the primary back for the final two games of the season.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a feature story today looking at the UMass football linebackers. The group may be one of the more athletic groups on the roster and with the switch to a 3-4 defense will have a chance to make a big impact in 2014.
Nick Canelas of the Daily Collegian has a story on new defensive coordinator Tom Masella and his 3-4 defensive scheme. Senior linebacker Stanley Andre says the move is good because it gives more freedom to the linebackers and defensive backs to be aggressive.
The UMass football offensive line is looking to fill the voids left by seniors Anthony Dima, David Osei, and Vincent Westcarr. Offensive line coach Shane Waldron and returning starters Matt Sparks and Tyrell Smith break down the unit's progression during spring practice following the Minutemen's workout on April 1.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has an in-depth story with UMass defensive coordinator Tom Masella on his return to Amherst. Masella was previously on Mark Whipple's staff during their first tenure with the Minutemen. Masella also discusses what he's seen so far from the defense in spring camp and how he thinks the team has and will improve in the coming months.
Matt Vautour has a story on UMass' all-time great running back Marcel Shipp who now paces the sidelines at McGuirk Stadium as a first-year assistant coach under Mark Whipple. Lorenzo Woodley and Jordan Broadnax both speak about the relationships they've formed already with Shipp and the knowledge they've gained in just a short time.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story focusing on rising sophomore linebacker Shane Huber who is recovering from a knee injury last season. While he has not been cleared yet for physical practice, Huber has been preparing for the season by working on his upper body strength, learning the playbook and being at practice each day.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has a story on Marken Michel who has rejoined the Minutemen after spending the 2013 season out of football. Michel figures to add depth to a wide receiving corps which was hurt by injury last year.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette had a story on Saturday about incoming transfer quarterback Blake Frohnapfel and how he is preparing for next season while still in school at Marshall. Frohnapfel is able to study the UMass play book, watch practice film online and has been working on his own.
Josh Alper of NBCSports.com has a story which talks about UMass alum James Ihedigbo who just signed with the Detroit Lions and how he and Glover Quin have already begun working out together. The duo live in Texas and Ihedigbo is projected to play strong safety while Quin moves over to free safety for the Lions.
Nick Canelas of the Daily Collegian has a story on UMass football running back Lorenzo Woodley who says he is excited about playing in head coach Mark Whipple's new offensive scheme which will be better suited to the rising sophomore's running style.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican also has a story on UMass football running back Lorenzo Woodley today. Woodley says his freshman year experience has prepared him better to know what to expect going into 2013.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has highlights from UMass football's NFL Pro Day which includes a video produced by the UMass Sports Network.
Nick Canelas of the Daily Collegian spoke with UMass football coach Mark Whipple and freshman linebacker Shane Huber about the announcement earlier this week that the 2015 season would be the last for the Minutemen as members of the MAC.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a notebook from last night's football practice where he spoke with head coach Mark Whipple about conference realignment, running back Lorenzo Woodley on how he is approaching his sophomore season, and news of James Ihedigbo signing with the Detroit Lions.
Nick Canelas of the Daily Collegian has a story today on how the UMass football team is responding to new head coach Mark Whipple during Spring Camp. Canelas writes that a new attitude as a result of a fresh start is helping to change the culture of the program.
The news that 2015 will be the final season for UMass football as an affiliate member with the Mid-American Conference made national headlines yesterday. The move is due to a contract clause that states if the MAC University presidents voted to make UMass a full conference member for all sports, then the Minutemen could either except the offer or decline it and let the remaining balance of the contract term finish. UMass chose not to become a full member and, therefore, the 2015 season will be the Minutemen's last in the MAC.
Vladimir Ducasse has signed a one-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings after playing for four years with the New York Jets. He was a second round draft pick with the Jets after having a standout career with UMass. In Minnesota, he joins fellow UMass alum and offensive lineman Josh Samuda who signed a reserve/future contract with the Vikings in January.
Lots of coverage over the past two days on the announcement that former UMass standout James Ihedigbo has signed a two-year contract with Detroit. The Super Bowl champion has helped bring success to the New York Jets, the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens during the course of his career.
UMass held its annual NFL Pro Day on Tuesday afternoon putting several Minutemen and other local football athletes through the paces in front of 21 NFL scouts.