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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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".
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Nick O'Malley of the Springfield Republican has a story on Vladimir Ducasse who signed with the Minnesota Vikings after playing the last four seasons with the New York Jets. Ducasse was a 2010 second-round draft pick following his career at UMass.
The NFL Free Agency moves continue around the league with James Ihedigbo being discussed as a possibility to sign with the Detroit Lions after spending the last two seasons in Baltimore. Ihedigbo will be entering his seventh season in the NFL this fall having played for the New York Jets, New England Patriots and the Ravens.
Giants.com has this video of Victor Cruz surprising a busload of children from Lincoln Elementary School by taking them to the Rachel Ray Show.
4. Victor Cruz surprised a "busload" of children. The students of Lincoln Elementary School from Mount Vernon, N.Y., recently thought they were going on an ordinary field trip until the Giants wide receiver jumped on the bus and brought them to the Rachel Ray show. There Cruz stressed the importance of healthy eating.
Former UMass standout Jeremy Cain signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this week. Cain has played for Chicago, Tennessee and Jacksonville over the course of his NFL career as a long snapper and linebacker over eight seasons.
Paul Jackiewicz of ProFootballZone.com has a blog post saying that UMass' Victor Cruz donated $10K to Public School 75 in New York to make sure kids are able to eat breakfast in the mornings.
New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz on Monday paid a visit to P.S. 75 to help with the "It Starts With School Breakfast" campaign as part of National Breakfast Week.
Several stories came out yesterday on Victor Cruz who has said he'd like to "be as versatile as Randall Cobb" by playing running back in some offensive schemes.
Sid Saraf of FoxSports.com has a feature story on Victor Cruz and how he was able to be successful in reaching the NFL despite not being invited to the NFL Combine. The story also touches on his work with a company called GamePlan4Me.com which helps young people attain career and health-care goals.
Dan Malone of the Springfield Republican has an update on Rob Blanchflower who was at the NFL Combine this past week, but did not participate in the on-the-field drills as he is still recovering from his injury suffered during the season.
Ed Valentine of BigBlueView.com takes a look at draft eligible tight ends in this year's NFL Draft. He writes about UMass' Rob Blanchflower and the apparent connection between the New York Giants and the Minutemen with Victor Cruz, Julian Talley and Michael Cox all playing for New York.
UMass alum Jeff Howe has a notebook in the Boston Herald with updates from the NFL Combine. He caught up with UMass' Rob Blanchflower who is at the Combine this week, but will not take part in workouts on Saturday as he continues recovery from an injury he played through during the season.
Blanchflower says he will be ready for UMass' Pro Day on March 25.
Andy Hart of Patriots.com has a look at the tight ends who will be available in the upcoming NFL Draft and makes mention of UMass' Rob Blanchflower towards the end of the story.
Blanchflower, whose UMass team calls Gillette Stadium home on game days, barely practiced this past fall due to bilateral hernia, meaning his groin and abdominal muscles on both sides were torn. That caused him great pain and limitations, but he still proved his toughness but gutting through it on game day.
Though coming off an injury that will prevent him from working out at the Combine, and coming from a lower level, the Minuteman and Massachusetts native still thinks he's got what it takes to measure up at the next level.
"I think I'm up there with the elite in the country," Blanchflower said. "I'm looking to just get my foot in the door. If it comes in the fourth round or as an undrafted free agent, it is what it is."
The New York Giants announced today that former UMass standout Julian Talley has been signed to the active roster for this week. Talley has been on the Giants' practice squad for the bulk fo the season. That puts three former Minutemen on the current New York active roster: Talley, Victor Cruz, and Michael Cox.
With a rash of injuries at running back for the New York Giants, former UMass Minuteman Michael Cox is taking advantage of the opportunity. The Dorchester native is taking all the reps for the Giants at the beginning of this week as the team prepares for Minnesota next Monday.
Paul Schwartz of the New York Post has a story on Michael Cox and his journey towards making the New York Giants 53-man roster over the weekend. Schwartz echoes that Cox's journey was similar to that of Victor Cruz.
Perhaps the Giants have a Cruz redux in Michael Cox, the rookie running back who remains on the 53-man roster. This wasn't much of a surprise on cut-down day, as his body of work this summer made it obvious he was going to stick -- just as Cruz performed his way onto the team in 2010.
Without UMass, Cox wouldn't have gotten a sniff of the NFL. He barely got on the field at Michigan. In 2009 he got 13 rushing attempts, 113 yards and two touchdowns, but after that he sat the bench, managing to find only six more carries the next two years. He earned his degree, though, and, with one more year of playing eligibility, he moved closer to home, enrolled at UMass, took post-graduate courses and started all 12 games at running back. His 198 rushes for 715 yards and five TDs got him on the fringe of the draft radar.
Cox, after struggling at Michigan, follows Cruz's path to Giants - NYPOST.com
Seven former Minutemen survived the weekend's NFL cuts and are now on the 53-man rosters for the regular season. Additionally, Julian Talley was signed to the New York Giants practice squad, while John Griffin was assigned to the New York Jets injured reserve list after being hurt during preseason camp.
Michael Cox - New York Giants
Victor Cruz - New York Giants
Vladimir Ducasse - New York Jets
Emil Igwenagu - Philadelphia Eagles
James Ihedigbo - Baltimore Ravens
Jeromy Miles - Cincinnati Bengals
Josh Samuda - Miami Dolphins
Practice Squad: Julian Talley - New York Giants
Injured Reserve: John Griffin - New York Jets
Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel has a feature on former UMass standout offensive lineman Josh Samuda who is now fighting for a starting spot with the Miami Dolphins in just his second season in the NFL.
Jeff Moeller has a feature story on Michael Cox who was taken in the 7th round of the NFL Draft and how he has been fighting for a spot on the New York Giants active roster during preseason camp. So far during camp, Cox, who is one of three former Minutemen with the Giants currently, has drawn positive reviews from the New York coaching staff and media.
Former UMass tailback Michael Cox continues to impress the New York Giants after Saturday's preseason game against Pittsburgh. Cox is fighting for the No. 3 tailback spot after being drafted in the 7th round.
A trio of Minutemen saw action last night for the New York Giants as Victor Cruz, Julian Talley and Michael Cox each played in the preseason game at Pittsburgh.
Cruz finished the game with one catch for 57 yards and a touchdown, while Talley had one catch for 29 yards. Cox was the team's top rusher with 33 yards on 9 carries including a long run of 12 yards.
Nick Underhill of the Springfield Republican has a story on UMass lineman Stephane Milhim and his hopes at the NFL Combine which takes place this weekend.
Stephane Milhim's journey to the NFL Scouting Combine began during one of his daily walks to the bus stop while a freshman in high school.
Despite his size, the Haitian native was never interested in football. He was a soccer player and had never considered using his frame to protect a quarterback. But a football coach caught sight of him on the sidewalk and immediately began pleading the benefits for the sport.
Milhim decided to listen and give the game a shot.
Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston has some quick hits from the NFL Combine which has begun in Indianapolis. Reiss, a UMass alum, made sure to catch up with Minutemen lineman Stephan Milhim.
3. UMass lineman Milhim making big jump. As part of the media interviews at the combine, UMass offensive lineman Stephane Milhim noted that it was nice to be part of a process with players he watches on TV, such as those from Alabama and LSU. "It kind of hasn't hit me yet, but it's like 'I'm here too with these guys.'" Milhim said he measured at 6-3 7/8 and 314 pounds, and called tackle his best position even though some project him to move to either guard or center in the NFL. He has experience at all five positions along the line and felt his performance against Michigan defensive end Frank Clark was one of his best.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story on James Ihedigbo and how success has followed him throughout his four-year NFL career. In addition to playing in back-to-back Super Bowls with different teams, Ihedigbo has been a member of four AFC Championship teams.
David Anderson of the Baltimore Sun has a profile of James Ihedigbo's mother, Rose, who talks about her son's path to the NFL and his second straight Super Bowl. Rose and her late husband, Apollos, came to the United States from Nigeria in 1979. James grew up in Amherst playing at Amherst Regional High School before coming to UMass. Rose will soon be publishing a book called "Sandals in the Snow" which describes their life and the path their family took.
James Ihedigbo of the Baltimore Ravens reacts after the Indianapolis Colts missed a field goal attempt during the AFC Wild Card Playoff Game at M&T Bank Stadium on Jan. 6. His mother, Rose, who lives in Abingdon says her son exemplifies the values she and his father instilled in him, the values of hard work, perseverance and faith in God.(Patrick Smith/Getty Images, Getty Images / January 5, 2013)
In a photo gallery by the Associated Press which is featured on Yahoo! Sports, James Ihedigbo is shown filming Media Day as the Baltimore Ravens are interviewed prior to the Super Bowl.
Baltimore Ravens safety James Ihedigbo shoots a video as safety Bernard Pollard, right, looks over his shoulder during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
UMass alum and Boston Herald sportswriter Jeff Howe has a piece on local connections in this year's NFL Super Bowl between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. Included in his piece are mentions of UMass alums James Ihedigbo and Clarence Brooks.
Ihedigbo is making his second straight Super Bowl appearance albeit with a different team after helping the Patriots reach the title game last year.
Brooks played football at UMass from 1970-72 and was an assistant coach in the mid-70's for the Minutemen. He is now the Ravens' defensive line coach.
UMass alum and current New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz added yet another milestone to his NFL resume. In the annual NFL Pro Bowl, his first selection as an NFL player, Cruz set a new game record with 10 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. Cruz and quarterback Eli Manning were instrumental in the 62-35 win for the NFC.
David Driver of the Springfield Republican has a feature story on James Ihedigbo and his return to a second consecutive Super Bowl. Last season, Ihedigbo played in the Super Bowl for the New England Patriots before falling to the New York Giants and fellow UMass alum Victor Cruz.
Edward Lee of the Baltimore Sun has a story on how Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl veterans, including UMass' James Ihedigbo, have shared their experiences with teammates over the last week. Ihedigbo is only one of four players on the 54-man roster to have played in a Super Bowl and the only current Raven to have played in the big game last year.
Victor Cruz paid tribute on Sunday to Jack Pinto, one of the children killed last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
After finding out that he was Pinto's favorite football player, Cruz wrote "Jack Pinto 'My Hero'" and "R.I.P. Jack Pinto" on his cleats and gloves.
Cruz spoke to the family prior to Sunday's game against Atlanta and has said he will visit the family later this week. Pinto was laid to rest on Monday.
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.
J. Michael of Comcast SportsNet Washington takes a look at James Ihedigbo's addition to the Baltimore Ravens defense in preparation of playing his former team New England this Sunday night.
Joe Reedy of Cincinnati.com has a story on the play of former UMass standout Jeromy Miles and his transition from a special teams player to a regular in the defensive secondary as he has played 70 of 129 possible plays this year.
Geoff Hobson, editor of Bengals.com, has a story on Cincinnati's stock of undrafted free agents and other players from small college programs who are now making an impact on the club. Included in the story is former UMass standout Jeremy Miles who is making a serious bid for a starting safety spot after being a special team standout.
After being picked up as an undrafted free agent last spring, former UMass standout offensive lineman Josh Samuda has been earning praise during the NFL preseason. Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel lists Samuda as a key back-up center and one of the Dolphins' top eight offensive linemen.
"Josh Samuda, an undrafted rookie from UMass, spent his third week as the backup center, and performed well enough it appears he's locked down a spot on the 53-man roster. Samuda, a Hollywood Hills product, is presently one of the team's top eight offensive linemen."
Kevin Kelly of Cincinnati.com has a feature story on Jeromy Miles and his impact with the Bengals this preseason. Last week against the Falcons, Miles had 6 solo tackles on defense and two on special teams. He also forced a fumble and had an interception in the end zone to prevent an Atlanta scoring drive.
Several news items on Victor Cruz today as ESPN says "Cruz can't wait to see Jets again". Bleacher Repot also has a story on "3 candidates to be this year's Victor Cruz". SB Nation gives their Fantasy Football Rankings for 2012 Wide Receivers and says Cruz is a must have.
Andrea Hangst of Bleacher Report has a breakdown of the CIncinnati Bengals position battle at strong safety. Jeromy Miles has been getting numerous reps with the first team defense after an injury to Taylor Mays. Miles has primarily been one of the top special teams players for the Bengals.
Jorge Castillo of The New Jersey Star-Ledger has a Q&A with former Minuteman Julian Talley who is an undrafted free agent for the New York Giants. The piece outlines some of the similarities between Talley and Victor Cruz.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story on the success of Jonathan Quick and Victor Cruz and their meteoric rise to sports fame this year.
On Friday, Victor Cruz wore a maroon tie on his trip to the White House, a silent nod to the prominent color of his college (University of Massachusetts) and high school (Paterson Catholic) alma maters. Three days later, shortly after hoisting the Conn Smythe Trophy, Jonathan Quick thanked UMass coach Toot Cahoon and the Minuteman program during a televised interview.
It's continued to be a good year for the UMass athletic department. Even after the Minuteman baseball team was eliminated from the Atlantic 10 tournament, ending the 2011-12 athletic season, its prominent former players are keeping the school's name in the news in good ways.
UMass has had alumni shine in the ranks of the four major professional sports before. Mike Flanagan won a Cy Young Award. Jeff Reardon was, at one point, baseball's all-time leader in saves. Marcus Camby was the NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
But none of them captured the attention of their fan bases like Quick and Cruz. In the nation's two largest media markets, the two former Minutemen not only found the spotlight, but have shined in its glare.
Lenn Robbins of the New York Post has a story on Victor Cruz who was on hand for the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York.
"Cruz is the man,'' said Jose Vargas, 37 of Puerto Rico, who said he's flown to New York for this parade each of the last six years. "He's fearless and fast. He makes catches across the middle and he can beat you deep. And he can dance, man, he can dance.'' Cruz, who was in attendance at the parade, made his touchdown celebration salsa dance a favorite among fans.
As Vargas was lauding his favorite player a group of his friends and family, as young as his two month niece, Danica, and his 84-year great grandmother, Rosa, broke into their renditions of Cruz's dance.
Victor Cruz and the New York Giants will visit the White House today in honor of the Super Bowl XLVI victory. The big question posed by Art Stapleton of NorthJersey.com: Will POTUS bust a move out of respect for the "Silk City Salsa" made famous by Paterson native Victor Cruz?
That would certainly be a hit on C-SPAN.
Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger has a story on Victor Cruz who was a member of the NFL's unveiling of Nike's new uniforms for the league.
"I'm not frustrated at all. I'm just trying to go in there and play football," he said of his current contract. "When I was young it wasn't about money, it wasn't about fame and fortune. It was just about playing football. So regardless of how short-term this career can be, I just want to go out there and play. All of that stuff will take care of itself."
Earlier, he said, "You just gotta remain humble and remain yourself and understand that all the good things are going to come to you in time. So you just have to keep doing what you're doing, remain positive at all times and the good things will come."
Kevin Goheen also contributed this story on James Ihedigbo's experience as he prepares for the Super Bowl and how his NFL career has unfolded over the last four seasons.
Kevin Goheen contributes this story to the Daily Hampshire Gazette on how Victor Cruz is savoring the Super Bowl experience. He will face fellow alum James Ihedigbo of the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Stephen Hewitt of the Daily Collegian has a look at Victor Cruz and his storybook season with the New York Giants.
Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe has a feature today on how the success of James Ihedigbo and Victor Cruz has helped recruiting for Charley Molnar and the UMass football program.
Charley Molnar hasn't spent much time in the football offices at the University of Massachusetts since he became head coach in December.
With the program moving up to the Football Bowl Subdivision next season and joining the Mid-American Conference, Molnar has been on the road recruiting. But he did find time to do a little interior decorating.
Hang a left when you walk through the doors, and there on the wall are super-sized photographs of Patriots defensive back James Ihedigbo and Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz.
The display is a reminder to the current players and recruits visiting campus that the Minutemen have two players in the Super Bowl.
"I want every player who comes through our program to know they can do great things, just like Victor and James did,'' Molnar said. "They were on the same practice fields and in the same weight room and look where they are now.''
Jim Slater of the AFP has a story mentioning James Ihedigbo as Super Bowl 46 has a 'global array of talent'.
As the Super Bowl draws closer, James Ihedigbo of the New England Patriots and Victor Cruz of the New York Giants have both been in the media spotlight - both here in Massachusetts and nationally.
Matt Vautour of the Daily Hampshire Gazette has a story on how the success James Ihedigbo and Victor Cruz are having in the NFL has served as an inspiration and a blueprint to pro-football hopefuls Julian Talley and Tyler Holmes. Talley and Holmes are currently in Florida working out to prepare for various NFL scouting combines.
Zach Schonbrun of Newsday has a story on Victor Cruz's appearance at a Modell's store in Times Square where he gave out salsa-dancing lessons, signed autographs and promoted a new t-shirt with "Cruuuuuuuuuuuuz!" on the front and salsa steps on the back - his trademark touchdown celebration.
No matter if you are a Giants fan or a Patriot fan, if you are a UMass fan, then this year's Super Bowl will be a win for you. Congratulations to Victor Cruz and James Ihedigbo who will both be playing in the title game.
Coverage of Cruz & Ihedigbo:
Coverage of Ihedigbo:
Coverage of Cruz:
UMass' Victor Cruz once again put on a show for New York Giants fans - this time adding an on-side kick recovery to his resume - in Sunday's win over the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
UMass alum James Ihedigbo will be playing in his third career AFC Championship Game after he helped the New England Patriots defeat the Denver Broncos on Saturday. Ihedigbo made two appearances in the AFC title game with the New York Jets prior to joining the Patriots.
In Jennifer Toland's NFL playoff notebook for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, she has a snippet on Victor Cruz and James Ihedigbo.
Cruz not dancing
Patriots safety James Ihedigbo isn't the only UMass product in the playoffs.
Giants receiver Victor Cruz, a two-year teammate of Ihedigbo's at UMass, leads New York into its NFC divisional game at top-seeded Green Bay.
Cruz set a Giants record with 1,536 receiving yards this season and finished third in the league behind Calvin Johnson and Wes Welker.
"He's doing amazing," said Ihedigbo, who said the two are good friends. "I'm happy for him.
Cruz has become so big he was invited to join the cast of "Dancing with the Stars." He turned it down.
Several stories looking at the Cincinnati Bengals defense have mentioned the play of Jeromy Miles and his success as a member of the special teams units.
Jeromy Miles is one of the best special teams players on the Bengals. I don't think he has much of a shot at being the future at safety, but he is certainly a contributor to this team. He is a restricted free agent this year, and will probably be back in 2013 for another year of dominance on coverage teams.
The 6-2, 210-pound Miles had 15 tackles on special teams as part of the NFL's No. 1 kick coverage...Miles is conscientious and reliable enough to be one of the team's most dependable players.
Erik Matuszewski of Bloomberg.com has an extensive piece on the meteoric rise of Victor Cruz with the New York Giants. As he closes in on a new contract negotiation, Matuszewski points out:
Cruz has emerged as one of the Giants' most valuable and popular players. His No. 80 jersey is the team's second-best seller for the season behind Manning and the 13th-best seller in the league last month, according to NFLShop.com. Cruz is ninth on the ranking of rising sports stars issued today by Irvine, California-based Brand Affinity Technologies, which calculates consumer appeal based on performance, media exposure, popularity and other indicators among more than 45,000 athletes and celebrities.
Steve Serby of the New York Post has a story on the amazing season that Victor Cruz has put together this year for the Giants.
"It's amazing, man," Cruz said. "It's something you dream of when you grow up and you hear all the chants that different stadiums have for different people. For me to have one in New York, it's just a surreal feeling. I get goose bumps every time I hear it."
New York gets goose bumps every time he takes a short pass from Manning and takes it to the house.
After putting together an unbelievable regular-season performance, Victor Cruz has been selected as a second alternate for this year's NFL Pro Bowl in Honolulu.
Jeff Roberts of The Record has a feature on Cruz who says he feels "blessed" and that he's "having the most incredible year of my life."
An amazing game by Victor Cruz against the Jets over the week where he had a 99-yard pass reception-and-run to help him set a new Giants single season receiving record. Along with his season total, the 99-yard play also ties a franchise record putting the UMass standout's name in the Giants record book twice.
CBS Boston (WBZ) has a feature story on former Minuteman and current New England Patriot James Ihedigbo that focuses on his life growing up and his HOPE Foundation which helps students in Africa gain a college education in the United States.
Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal has a story on Vladimir Ducasse and his recent success with the Jets who are using him exclusively in "Jumbo Formations" where he plays as a third tackle/tightend.
UMass alum Mike Reiss has a profile of James Ihedigbo up on ESPNBoston.com. Included in the Q&A session is Ihedigbo recounting some of his favorite memories while at UMass including the 2006 win over Montana in the NCAA Playoffs in 2006.
Victor Cruz of the New York Giants was a guest on Colin Cowherd's show on ESPN Radio yesterday. The former UMass standout talked about the win over the Cowboys, his season so far, and playing with Eli Manning.
GangGreenNation.com ran a story yesterday on Vladimir Ducasse and the New York Jets mixing him in the offensive line as an extra tight end in power sets.
With 7 catches for 83 yards in last night's win over Dallas, Victor Cruz of the New York Giants continues to show why he is one of the top wide receivers in the NFL.
*Cruz had seven receptions for 83 yards in Dallas. His 1,159 yards is the seventh-highest single-season total in Giants history. Cruz needs 185 yards in the final three games to top Amani Toomer's franchise record of 1,343 yards, set in 2002.