Football: Team notebook

By Eli Rosenswaike, Collegian Staff

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The Massachusetts football team won its season-opener, 28-16, over Albany on Saturday. But that didn’t mean the coaching staff and players were satisfied with the performance.

“The guys were a little down with the way we won,” UMass coach Don Brown said. “Albany certainly has a solid football team. I thought coach [Bob] Ford’s team was very game, extremely physical, made us hustle and gave us everything we wanted in an opener.

“But I told the guys, it’s all about winning the game. I think we’ll grow a lot from this.”

The coaches in the Football Championship Subdivision must have been satisfied with how UMass played, though, moving up the Minutemen one spot in the rankings to No. 4.

The CAA is well-represented in the Top 10, with Richmond (No. 3), Delaware (No. 6) and James Madison (No. 8) among the elite teams in the country. New Hampshire (15) and Villanova (23) are also in the Top 25 in the Sports Network’s Top 25 Poll.

London in Miami?

Former UMass star wide receiver Brandon London didn’t have to wait long to land with a new team after his release from the New York Giants last week. The Miami Dolphins signed the 6-foot-4 wideout and he will be on the 53-man active roster on opening day.

London, who played for UMass from 2003-06, was on the Giants’ practice squad all last season after going undrafted in 2007. In his four years as a Minutemen, he put up numbers that rank in the top five in UMass history in virtually every receiving statistic. London mimicked Randy Moss in practices leading up to the Super Bowl, and earned a Super Bowl ring for his efforts.

The Dolphins have six other wide receivers on the roster, but other than Ernest Wilford, none of them are veterans or have seen much time on the field in their careers. London could get a shot to see the field.

No luck for others

Other recent UMass players that were on teams during the preseason didn’t fair as well.

Running backs Steve Baylark (Cardinals) and Matt Lawrence (Bears), safety James Ihedigbo (Jets), linebacker Jeremy Cain (Rams) were all released. Veteran NFL running back Marcel Shipp was cut by two teams (Cardinals and Texans). Ihedigbo was signed back by the Jets to the practice squad.

Award central

It didn’t take long for Tony Nelson to collect accolades as the starting running back. The senior rushed for 171 yards and scored two touchdowns (one receiving, one rushing) in his first career start for the Minutemen – earning him a share (with men’s soccer Prince Ofosu) as the UMass/Dinn Bros. Co-Athletes of the Week.

Linebacker Josh Jennings also shared an award, splitting the Colonial Athletic Association Co-Defensive Player of the Week honors with Delaware cornerback Anthony Walters. Strangely, both players recorded 13 tackles and an interception.

For Jennings, it was his first career start at the middle linebacker position.

Eli Rosenswaike can be reached at [email protected]