Jason Hatchell's Spring Football Blogs

Jason Hatchell returns as UMass top tackler for 2007.

Jason Hatchell returns as UMass top tackler for 2007.
May 3, 2007

Jason Hatchell writes about the upcoming spring game and his thoughts on some of his former teammates' signing professional contracts. He also talks about walking in the upcoming graduation ceremony.

Our focus in the past week has been on the Spring Game. Everyone, including me, is real excited for it. It is our last time on the field for the spring and will be a huge test for the players to see how everyone, especially the new guys, is playing. The game is at Noon and hopefully we'll get a nice crowd for it. It'll be cool to see what everyone has to show on the field.

Practice last week has been going real well. We are on our 13th or 14th practice now and it's been real fun watching all the guys, including myself, step up and progress through spring ball. We're learning new concepts that have been put in.

I paid close attention to the NFL Draft this past weekend and I'm real happy for Alex Miller, David Thompson, Brandon London, James Ihedigbo and Steve Baylark because they're all getting their shot now at the NFL. I was hoping one of them would have been taken in the later rounds, but it is still a great opportunity for them to live out their dreams. I know that they will all capitalize on the chance and I wish them well.

Our scrimmage last Saturday went real well. It was the first time we had officials on the field for our scrimmage. We got to seem some calls and got to argue with them a little bit. Overall it went real well. We were full-out live-hitting which is always good. We got to seem some big hits.

This time of year has been hectic for me because I'm finishing up my major. I'll still have credits to complete next year and I'm going to do an internship but I get to walk at the graduation ceremony on May 26, which is pretty exciting for any college student. It's been a real challenging four years but I'm proud to be graduating with my sport management degree, which is a real prestigious major here at UMass. But it's been tough recently. We've had football meetings on top of studying for exams and working on papers. For instance, Wednesday night I was up until Midnight studying, then took a mid-term exam this morning and have practice later. It's definitely tough to balance, but it's part of being an athlete.

It's off to practice for me now, but next week I'll be sure to give an update on the Spring Game. If you have some free time, come down to McGuirk Stadium at Noon on Saturday to watch the game. Hope to see you there!

April 26, 2007

Jason Hatchell writes about some of his former teammates and their chances to be selected in the NFL Draft which takes place this weekend. He also lets you in on some of the top players in spring football thus far.

Before I talk about how our scrimmage went I want to talk about the upcoming NFL draft. This Saturday the draft is coming up, and it's a big day for a lot of guys. It's real exciting because I've had the opportunity to play with four or five guys that are potentially going to make it to the league.

My roommate Alex Miller has been really excited about the opportunity. James Ihedigbo, Brandon London, Baylark and Christian Koegel are also guys that I think have a great chance to make it to the NFL. They all had good workouts and everyone on the team is pulling for them. Some are saying that Brandon London could be the next Marques Colston, and I can definitely see that. Anyone who knows him knows that he has always had his mind set on bigger things, especially the NFL. He has great work ethic, he's the kind of guy that will do whatever it takes to get to the next level, and it shows in his workouts and his play.

For those of us not looking toward the NFL draft we finally had our first scrimmage last Saturday and it went really well. It felt great to do some full-out tackling, especially because it was the first time as a team we were able to tackle to the ground. One thing I really liked about the scrimmage was that the coaches backed off and let us. It allowed them to see how each individual player has progressed and how well they've learned the system. The meetings are where the coaches pointed out our mistakes and let us know how to correct them, rather than going over them during our scrimmage.

During practice, as well as the scrimmage I've noticed a lot of guys stepping up. Matt Lawrence and Tony Nelson are two guys that have been running really well in practice. Another guy that has impressed me is Jeremy Miles. It's really impressive how quickly he has learned our defense. I'm also impressed with some of the hard hits I've seen him lay on guys in practice. On the offensive side of the ball Rasheed Rancher has picked up where he left off last year. He continues to show that he is one of the hardest guys to cover in the nation. He's a hard match up for anyone at 6' 5'' and with speed like he has going deep.

We lost a few of our leaders from last year's team but we have a lot of guys who seem to be stepping up. Liam Coen has continued to show great leadership throughout the spring, he's our quarterback and our leader everywhere on the field. Overall we have a lot of guys stepping up and becoming leaders of this team. We have carried over the guiding principles from last season as far as leading this team goes. We lead by example and the team follows.

Although we lost a couple of key guys on offensive line, I really like the looks of our line this year. Losing Alex Miller and David Thompson is tough, but we have some great guys that are ready to step in. We've added some new guys, but they have great leaders in front of them with a lot of experience. I really think our line is going to be a big anchor for us this year, we've added a lot of depth this season. There are a lot of guys with great size such as Vladimir Ducasse, Ben Coblyn and Matt Austin just name a few. Vlad is one of the most solid guys I've ever been up against; when you hit him it's like hitting a brick wall. Ben Coblyn is a transfer from Boston University, he's 6' 8'' 285 pounds and extremely athletic. Once Ben gets caught up from the time off from football he's going to bring a real presence to the field and help solidify our line.

I'm very excited about the way things went in our scrimmage and the way things have been going in practice. Guys are stepping up and looking good for the upcoming season.

April 19, 2007

Jason Hatchell writes about practicing with pads on. Here is his fourth entry in his CAASports Blog.

This week has been an exciting week because we just put on our pads last Friday and we are starting to get in some hitting. It's a great change from winter workouts because we get to run around and it's usually nice out. Thursday is our first day of full pads and everyone is getting excited. It has been a lot of fun lately. All the guys are "Ooohing" and "Aaahing" at some of the big hits.

We are looking forward to this week because it has been horrible with the weather lately. We are definitely waiting for spring to come. Even though it is hard for us, it is not just us, it is the whole East Coast. The weather has been difficult with the Nor'Easter, but it looks like its going to be gone soon. We had to cancel practice on Monday and Tuesday because it was just so bad and we do not want to risk anyone getting hurt. We have some practices to make up but it will be okay. Our first scrimmage is Saturday and we have scrimmages lined up for each Saturday afterwards. We are all certainly looking forward to getting some good licks in. Next week I will be sure to write about how we looked in that first scrimmage.

The best part of practice so far has been when we come together and play some 11-on-11. I'm real optimistic about the way we're bonding as a team and how well the new guys are fitting in. Everyone is doing extremely well out there, which is really great to see. Everyone is really solid and all the players we expected to set up are doing so.

At the same time, Coach Don Brown has been pushing us hard by giving us some new plays to learn. We have some new defensive blitzes and some new offensive formations which are working out really well. Tony Nelson is looking good at running back and Liam Coen is playing his best so I think the offensive is going to be very strong this year.

Everything we are doing now is to reach our main goals, which is to play in Chattanooga, Tenn. again this year. But we make sure that we do not compare ourselves to last year's team. I know we're going to be very good on our own this year and it is exciting to see it come together. It is difficult this time of year when we are building the foundation for next season, but we know the season does not begin for a few months.

With the forecasts looking better, I am getting excited about spring off the field as well. Spring around here is great because the winters in Massachusetts are so hard that people always appreciate it when it gets better. I love when people are always outside having fun. We enjoy any time we have off from football by having people over our house to barbeque and play some Wiffleball. It's just a real fun time to be in Amherst.

April 12, 2007

Jason Hatchell writes about the start of spring football practice. Here is his third entry in his CAASports Blog.

Spring football just started last Saturday. We have not got too much done so far this spring because we are still are practicing with helmets only--today was our second one. While it has been more in depth than what we had been doing in previous practices, it's still not as fun as equipment practices when we get to run around and hit each other.

In the couple of practices so far, we have put some new plays in; it's a great feeling to see everyone out on the field, running around as a team and getting into the swing of things. Everyone is getting into the mood. I think Friday will be the first day we get to put the pads on. It will be our first day with hitting--I can't wait.

So far March and April have been very cold. Usually we expect something warmer from spring. It has been real cold; I want something warmer than this. 40 degrees does not feel too good when you hit somebody. I know the rest of the country is also practicing and I'm hoping they will send us some nice warm heat; the whole team is. It will help us to get the atmosphere right for all the practices.

Easter was Sunday, but unfortunately we didn't have enough days off for me to get home. We had classes on Friday, and started practicing on Saturday. Classes started again on Monday and we had meetings and workouts that I couldn't miss. I would have liked to go home, but it wouldn't have worked. I went to a friend's house in Boston. It was good a time and I had a very nice dinner.

Spring ball means only about four to five weeks until finals and school ends for the summer, I am excited to be finishing up my degree. I am still coming back in the fall, but I am very excited to wrap things up for my Sport Management major. I'm coming back in the fall, but now I will be able to concentrate mainly on football.

Nothing too much has happened this week, we only had a couple of practices and we really jump into the real practices this week. I will have a lot more to write about next week and will be able to give a report on this first real week of spring practices.

April 5, 2007

Check out the second entry of Jason Hatchell's weekly CAA Football Blog. This week he writes about the start of spring practices on Saturday. Hatchell gives some insight on players to watch this spring.

I'm really excited that spring ball is here. Spring ball is a good time. You showcase your talent to a lot of guys. It's going to be awesome just to see how we click this year from last year. Last year we had a good team, we went to the national championship. This year, we got some core guys back. It's a real exciting time to see who is going to step up and how everyone is going to mesh together. It's a sneak preview on how next year's team is going to be.

Our main focus of spring football is to see who is going to compete for a starting job. In spring ball, it's all competition. There are no starters, it's all competition. Everyone comes in at an even playing level no matter what you did in the past. Everyone's going to be out there working their butts off trying to earn a starting position. That's the main focus, to showcase yourself. The goals are to get the first group on offense and defense clicking. So when we hit camp in August, we'll be full flow. We'll be in competition, but have an idea on what guys we want in what places and get everything clicking.

There are a few guys that I'm looking forward to stepping up this spring. Running backs Matt Lawrence and Tony Nelson are two guys that I'm expecting to step up. They had a great off-season in the weight room running. They are two great athletes, breaking all sorts of records. We're going to have great competition there. We're going to have a really good backfield: a good one-two punch. On the other side of the ball, I'm excited for Jeromy Miles; he's a transfer from Navy. I'm really excited to see him play on the field; he's a really good athlete. I haven't seen him play with pads on yet.

Heading into my senior season, I am looking forward to being out there with the guys and being a leader. We had great leaders last year. That's one thing I'm looking forward to doing, leading this specific group of guys. It's a cool thing when you're a senior and people look at you for leadership. You take a little more pride, because you always talk about living right and doing things right. A lot comes from the players, not just the coaches. You're influencing younger guys to live right. Everything you do influences the younger guys. That's a big thing about being a senior. Team wise, our goal is to win the CAA and win the National Championship.

Most of my family and friends have seen the blog. I've been getting calls out of the blue. Everyone's keeping up to date and they're excited for the next season.

March 29, 2007

  • CAA Spring Football Blogs

    UMass senior All-American linebacker Jason Hatchell is part of a new feature with the CAA Football Conference as he is filing regular blog entries. Check out his first installment as he writes about off-season training, the 2006 season's the run to the National Championship game and playing without his brother John in his final year at UMass.

    Jason Hatchell - Massachusetts Senior - Linebacker

    To get ready for next season we have been doing a lot of running and lifting, just a lot of working out as a team. We are lifting four days a week and running three days. We get up for five a.m. runs three days a week and then lift four days a week. It's intense training, but we still manage to squeeze in time for meetings. Everyone meets up usually for two meetings a week to go over plays and watch tape from last season to see our mistakes. We go over the little things. For us linebackers, we got a pretty experienced group coming back for next year; so, we are not worrying about the plays anymore with our group. We are concentrating more on perfecting the little things that we didn't touch on last year or things we could have done better than last year.

    It was pretty cool going back home after the season we had this year; two of our games were on ESPN2. Everyone I talked said they saw the games. A bunch of the people I talked to went to bars to see the games and cheered on UMass with thirty other people. I have family in Oklahoma and North Carolina, all over the place so it was pretty cool, but it does get a little old when it's all people talk about and they only think of you as a football player.

    Personally, I was a little upset with my success last year. I was expecting myself to perform at my best levels, my peak levels. I did make All-American in the Don Hansen poll. My goal was to win the Buck Buchanan as best defensive player in the country and be an All-American on all teams. I wanted to outplay every other linebacker in the whole nation. Those are the goals I set for myself: to be the best, keep working and keep working real hard.

    As a team, we have a few holes because we lost the seniors. Last season we had a great corps of seniors. Still, we're looking very solid; our offense is real powerful--I don't think we lost a step there. Defensively, we have experienced guys and got some good transfers coming in. We are preparing the new guys to get them familiar with our system. We are going to have the talent on the field. As long we get back to last year's level: developing the camaraderie we had so we just clicked no matter what we did, we are going to have a good run at it. Everyone trusted that everyone else would do their job. If all that happens, we are going to have a good season.

    My brother, John, just finished his last season so it's going to suck a little bit not playing with him. His importance is one thing I notice when watching last year's tape. Towards the end of this past season, he switched over from nose tackle to d-end so we were playing on the same side together. He would take a lot of double times, get a grip and hold the guys so I would be free to make the play. His presence opened me up a lot. It was fun having him out there so it is going to suck, but his time is over. We have great guys stepping up to fill in for him. I really don't feel that we are going to lose a step, except maybe in the strength area because he was the strongest player on the field.



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