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."
Several news outlets reported the promotion of former UMass football standout Emil Igwenagu to Philadelphia's active 53-man roster this week. The fullback/tight end signed as a free agent with the Eagles in the preseason, but has spent the year as a member of the practice squad.
Kerri Fleming has a look at Rob Blanchflower and his impact on the UMass football offense in 2012. Blanchflower will enter the season at the team's top tight end after splitting time last season with Emil Igwenagu who is currently with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story on Emil Igwenagu's performance on Saturday in the East-West Shrine Bowl. Playing mostly as a fullback, Igwenagu had a catch for 21 yards and a performance that helped increase his visibility in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald looks at the impact UMass' game at Boston College will have this weekend in light of the Minutemen's transition to the FBS level. The "introductory" to the Eastern Mass fans will be especially important with the Minutemen's future home being Gillette Stadium beginning next season.
You don't think the stakes are huge this weekend for UMass? Beginning in 2012 and continuing through at least 2013, the Minutemen will be playing their "home" games at Gillette Stadium. This means the Boston sports market will have two competing 1-A football programs.
That makes Saturday's date with Boston College the biggest game of the year. Call it an introductory offer for Boston sports fans. Or, a Whitman Sampler of UMass football. (Better still, and in homage to the UMass administration building, a Whitmore Sampler.)
"There's really nothing that needs to be said. Everybody's on the same page. We all know what this year means to the university. It's a big transition year. It's a big year to leave the CAA on a good note," said defensive lineman Brandon Potvin, a redshirt sophomore and former Holy Name star from Worcester.
And on the 20th day of preseason camp, the University of Massachusetts football team rested.
Nineteen straight days of running, blocking, throwing, catching, hitting, kicking and tackling each other has earned the Minutemen a well-deserved day of rest Wednesday as camp came to a close Tuesday.
"It went pretty good, the team obviously bonded well and all the practices went well and we built on everything," senior tight end and captain Emil Igwenagu said. "It is nice to finally get a day off to get our legs back, get treatment and take care of our bodies."
"He did his best to help us out, practicing every day and taking as many reps as he could. It was disappointing for us and heartbreaking for him. But he's looked great in preseason camp,'' added head coach Kevin Morris.
He considers Igwenagu a valuable weapon. "Emil is one of the better players in our league and he can do a lot of things for us and create a lot of mismatches for the opposing defense,'' Morris said. "We'll also use him in short-yardage situations because he was such a great tailback in high school.''
Igwenagu said he's feeling positive about the upcoming season.
"The seniors were asked if they wanted new captains and they said they liked things the way they were,'' with Igwenagu and linebacker Tyler Holmes leading the team. "That was reassuring and a great honor,'' he said.
Matt Vautour has a football notebook up today mentioning UMass being ranked No. 25 in The Sports Network FCS Top 25 preseason Poll, Tyler Holmes and Emil Igwenagu being named team captains once again and a recap of several alums from NFL preseason training camps.
In its last season playing in the Championship Subdivision, the University of Massachusetts football team was ranked No. 25 in the Sports Network FCS Top 25 preseason poll, which was released Monday.
The Minutemen were one of seven Colonial Athletic Association teams ranked. They were picked fifth in the CAA preseason poll. Villanova and Richmond, which were ranked lower in the CAA poll, were above UMass in the national poll.
Two more CAA teams - Rhode Island and Maine - as well as Central Connecticut State, which UMass faces in nonconference play, were among the teams "also-receiving votes."
Things were lining up for Emil Igwenagu to have a big year in 2010. Not only had he but voted captain of the University of Massachusetts football team as a junior, but he was set to have a big role in the Minuteman offense.
UMass coach Kevin Morris planned to use him a lot as plays were drawn up that had Igwenagu lined up as a tight end, a tailback and a fullback.
But in the season opener, he suffered an ankle injury and was never really healthy again the rest of the year. Igwenagu missed three games, but even in the eight he did play, he was never close to 100 percent. He finished with just 12 catches for 142 yards.
Check out the UMass Football Practice 6 Report With MVPs. Interviews with Shane Viveiros, Julian Talley, Emil Igwenagu, Stephane Milhim, Theo Agnew and coach Kevin Morris.
The next practice is slated for Saturday morning. The UMass Football Spring Game is April 30 at 4 p.m.
The rain has cleared and Saturday looks like a great day for Homecoming 2010 as the Minutemen host Richmond at 3:30 p.m. Be sure to join us for a high-power CAA clash between two of the Top 20 teams in the nation. There will also be a special tribute by the UMass Band and Alumni Band at halftime in honor of the late George N. Parks.
The Boston Herald has a nice feature on UMass junior captain Email Igwenagu. Check out John Connolly's story.
Some players are men for all seasons. UMass co-captain Emil Igwenagu can best be described as a man for all positions.
In three-plus seasons (including his redshirt year) with the Minutemen, the 21-year-old junior has played fullback and linebacker, served on scout teams, been a special teams performer, and finally found a home at tight end.
"I don't really have a favorite. I like what I'm doing now," said Igwenagu, who will be in action today (3:30 p.m.) when No. 8 UMass (4-1) hosts No. 20 Richmond (2-3) on Homecoming. "(My versatility) helps me out. It's true. As a tight end, I feel I can do a little bit of everything. I'm not strictly a blocking tight end and I'm not strictly a receiving tight end. I do a little bit of both.
The Boston Globe has a great feature story on UMass junior captain Emil Igwenagu. A preseason all-CAA selection, the 6-foot-1, 240-pound Igwenagu was recruited as a linebacker after a stellar career at Holy Name High School in Worcester, spent a year on the UMass scout team and was eventually switched to the H-back position (combining the duties of a receiver, blocker, and runner) last season, when he finished third on the team with 23 catches for 283 yards and a touchdown.
Current UMass junior captain and former Holy Cross High School star Emil Igwenagu is mentioned in a blog entry on ESPN Boston.
"Emil (Igwenagu, a former Nap running back who's now a tight end and captain at UMass) last week when he was interviewed up at UMass, they said, 'Do you feel bad that you rushed for 5,000 yards in high school and now you're just blocking?' He goes, 'No. It was a team concept. I always blocked for the other guys. Whatever it takes to win, that's what football's all about. And that's what we do.' That couldn't be any better for our program than a comment like that from a kid that did rush for 5,000 yards, that he knows blocking is a big part of football. That's what we reward kids for. Not for scoring a touchdown, but the kids that block to get him there."
All the hard work in Worcester and Amherst is paying off for Igwenagu, a redshirt junior tight end who was named to the preseason first team in the Colonial Athletic Association based on his 23-catch season in 2009. Not only has Igwenagu been catching the football, but also the respect of everyone in the UMass program.
In the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Matt Vautour has a nice feature story on the junior captain Emil Igwenague. He is listed as a tight end. When he plays tight end, he's one of the elite at that position in the Colonial Athletic Association and might be the best blocking receiving tight end at UMass since Kerry Taylor was an All-American tight end in the late 1990s. But listing the 6-foot-1, 240-pound Boylston native at just one position cuts off a hefty amount of what he does.
CAA Media Day was a great event with a strong showing from the media both regionally and nationally including USA Today and Sports Network. Rising juniors Tyler Holmes and Emil Igwenagu enjoyed themselves meeting with commissioner Tom Yeager as well as coaches and players from the other nine teams in the CAA. Here are video interviews with Holmes and Igwenagu as well as head coach Kevin Morris. The Minuteman contingent was lucky enough to catch and early flight back to Bradley Airport and return to campus around 5:30 p.m.
CAA Football Media Day takes place today at M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens. UMass preseason All-CAA selections Emil Igwenagu and Tyler Holmes are joining head coach Kevin Morris in the Charm City. Check back for updates all day long.
Watch Tyler and Emil's video welcome to Media Day.