Scrolling Headlines:

Minutewomen stunned by last-second free throw -

January 19, 2018

UMass hockey returns home to battle juggernaut Northeastern squad -

January 18, 2018

Slow start sinks Minutemen against URI -

January 17, 2018

UMass three-game win streak snapped in Rhode Island humbling -

January 17, 2018

Trio of second period goals leads Maine to 3-1 win over UMass hockey -

January 16, 2018

Small-ball lineup sparks UMass men’s basketball comeback over Saint Joseph’s -

January 14, 2018

UMass men’s basketball tops St. Joe’s in wild comeback -

January 14, 2018

UMass women’s track and field have record day at Beantown Challenge -

January 14, 2018

UMass women’s basketball blows halftime lead to Saint Joseph’s, fall to the Hawks 84-79. -

January 14, 2018

UMass hockey beats Vermont 6-3 in courageous win -

January 13, 2018

Makar, Leonard score but UMass can only muster 2-2 tie with Vermont -

January 13, 2018

Pipkins breaks UMass single game scoring record in comeback win over La Salle -

January 10, 2018

Conservative student activism group sues UMass over free speech policy -

January 10, 2018

Report: Makar declines invite from Team Canada Olympic team -

January 10, 2018

Prince Hall flood over winter break -

January 10, 2018

Minutemen look to avoid three straight losses with pair against Vermont -

January 10, 2018

Men’s and women’s track and field open seasons at Dartmouth Relays -

January 10, 2018

Turnovers and poor shooting hurt UMass women’s basketball in another conference loss at St. Bonaventure -

January 8, 2018

Shorthanded, UMass men’s basketball shocks Dayton with 62-60 win -

January 7, 2018

Northampton City Council elects Ryan O’Donnell as new council president -

January 7, 2018

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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