Scrolling Headlines:

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

Spring Sports Special Issue 2017 -

February 23, 2017

UMass men’s lacrosse defense relying on senior leadership with new faces in starting lineup -

February 23, 2017

J.T. Blyden is earning the respect and trust of his teammates

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

(Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian)

Massachusetts football starting linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox shakes his head in amazement when asked about freshman running back J.T. Blyden.

“J.T.’s really, really good,” Santos-Knox said. “He’s going to be a great player for the future of UMass. I can’t really consider him a younger guy because we’re going to need him this year. He’s really, really talented and we’re going to use him a lot for sure.”

UMass fans got a glimpse of Blyden on Saturday against Boston College, as he ran for 43 yards on nine carries, including a 14-yard run off-tackle, and caught one pass for seven yards. Blyden spelled starting running back Jamal Wilson midway through the second quarter and assumed the majority of the workload.

Santos-Knox and the rest of the Minutemen caught their first glimpse of Blyden in early August when he arrived on campus as a true freshman, running with the scout team on the first day of practice. He entered camp with relatively minimal fanfare — he’s been committed to UMass since his junior year of high school — but picked up the playbook quickly, working his way into earning more and more reps as he adjusted to the speed of the game throughout practice.

“Practice already had me up to speed I believe,” Blyden said. “My first day of practice, I was like amazed by the speed. When we have intra-squad scrimmages and everything, that was really beneficial to getting used to the speed of the game.”

Blyden’s name consistently popped up when Minutemen coach Mark Whipple talked about players who surprised him in camp. An afterthought in a deep running back competition, Blyden quietly worked his way up the depth chart and earned playing time with the starters by the end of camp.

According to quarterback Blake Frohnapfel, Blyden’s displayed a penchant for making plays not typically seen out of freshman.

“He came in the first day and really did things the right way,” Frohnapfel said. “He did what he was supposed to do, wasn’t really saying much. You see him with the way he plays, he’s always where he’s supposed to be.”

Whether it be on run plays or pass protection, Blyden transitioned well. That earned the trust of his starting quarterback and ultimately more playing time.

“As a quarterback you know, especially in protections, that I don’t have to worry about where this kid is supposed to be or tell him where to go because he knows already,” Frohnapfel said.

That was evident on Saturday, when the team left Blyden in for multiple different situations. Despite UMass trailing for most of the second half, which limited his ability to earn carries, Blyden’s performance was strong enough to warrant even more consideration of playing time moving forward.

For him, he’s as excited as can be.

“I’m just really excited,” he said. “Even after a loss I’m just excited. “We’re so close in so many areas to big plays. Myself, the whole team, I know we’re going to make a lot of noise this year so (I’m) really hyped for this year.”

Mark Chiarelli can be reached at mchiarel@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @Mark_Chiarelli

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