Scrolling Headlines:

UMass hockey competes hard, falls to No. 10 Providence College in overtime -

February 26, 2017

Overtime goal hands UMass hockey its 15th straight loss in regular season finale -

February 26, 2017

Former NAACP President Benjamin Jealous gives talk at UMass -

February 25, 2017

Anti-racism workshop teaches tactics to fight oppression in community -

February 25, 2017

Providence power play haunts UMass hockey in 6-2 loss -

February 25, 2017

UMass hockey falls to No. 10 Providence on Senior Night at the Mullins center -

February 25, 2017

UMass men’s basketball falters in the second half, falling to George Washington 83-67 Thursday -

February 24, 2017

UPDATE: SGA announces second and third artist for ‘Mullins Live!’ -

February 23, 2017

Divest UMass and STPEC host panel on building ‘solidarity economies’ in the Trump era -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s basketball losing streak extends to 10 games after loss to URI -

February 23, 2017

Sixth annual Advocacy Day set to take place March 1 -

February 23, 2017

Panel discusses racial, sexual and psychological violence in response to art exhibit -

February 23, 2017

Judy Dixon enters final season with UMass tennis with simple message: One match at a time -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball enduring early-season limitation in playing in New England -

February 23, 2017

Minutewomen softball begins season with cross-country travel, string of tournaments -

February 23, 2017

UMass baseball looks to bounce back from disappointing 2016 season -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior Hannah Murphy is Angela McMahon’s latest legend in the making -

February 23, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse senior defenders accept leadership roles in quest for ninth consecutive Atlantic 10 Championship -

February 23, 2017

Kelsey McGovern rejoins UMass women’s lacrosse as an assistant coach after starring for Minutewomen -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse looks to continue improving throughout 2017 season -

February 23, 2017

Kassan Messiah primed to star for UMass football in 2013

Kassan Messiah always had the tools to be a great football player in high school. He just never had the proper weight-lifting program to propel him amongst the elite linebackers in the nation.

Now entering his second season with the Massachusetts football team, Messiah is stronger than ever.

Jeff Bernstein/For the Collegian

Messiah made it his goal this offseason to improve his overall strength. When UMass hired veteran strength and conditioning coach Mike Golden, his prayers were answered.

The sophomore spent much of the offseason under the guidance and instruction of Golden and had immediate results. He said there’s been an unbelievable difference in his strength and he can see his hard work paying off in practice.

“We had a great strength coach come to the program and he’s helped me a lot just with my individual strength and just getting bigger, stronger, faster, everything. And I’ve seen improvement on the practice field,” Messiah said after Wednesday’s practice.

Now it’s just a matter of it translating to game day.

Messiah led all Mid-American Conference freshman in tackles last season with 65 in just nine games played. That put him third on the Minutemen behind Perry McIntyre and Darren Thellen.

But McIntyre and Thellen graduated last year, which puts Messiah in position to lead UMass and evolve into arguably one of the top linebackers in the MAC.

“That’s definitely a dream,” Messiah said. “Just like it was a dream to play college football and it was a dream to play in the big time, so it’s definitely a dream of mine so I’m working hard to accomplish it.”

If the young Minutemen defense needs a vocal leader or someone to look up to, Messiah is willing to fill that role too. He’s just concerned with what is best for the team.

“Whatever the team needs that’s what I’ll do,” Messiah said. “If they need a leader, I’ll be more than happy to step into that leadership role and do whatever I have to do for the team to win. If that comes with me telling the guys what they need to do and what they don’t need to do then I’ll do that.”

The Orange, N.J., native said there wasn’t any aspect of his game in particular he wanted to get better at. Instead, he humbly stated he needs to get better at anything, which includes his technique, knowing his assignments and his pre-snap keys.

His personal goal for 2013?

“Just do better than I did last year,” he said.

He appears ready to do just that.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Messiah has had an increased role on the UMass defense through the first two weeks of camp. He’s primarily an outside linebacker, but could be seen handling a number of responsibilities during team drills in practice.

Whether it’s in coverage, stopping the run, blitzing off the edge or even shooting the gaps from time to time, Messiah is showing he can do it all and succeed so far.

He hopes his versatility combined with his dedication to improving will shape him and make him the dominant player he hopes to be. Maybe even the best UMass’ defensive corps has to offer.

That’s what every individual player strives to be. I’m no different,” Messiah said. “My team as a whole is getting better every day and I’m one of those guys so I feel like if I’m getting better every day, then I don’t know. Who knows? The sky is the limit.”

Nick Canelas can be reached at ncanelas@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @NickCanelas.

 

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