Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Stanley Andre reflects on his career as Senior Day approaches

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Photo by Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

Photo by Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

When Massachusetts football linebacker Stanley Andre takes the field on Friday against Buffalo, he’ll do so for the final time in his UMass career.

He’s played in 47 games for the Minutemen, making 274 total tackles. He’s played two different positions — he was originally a defensive tackle before switching to middle linebacker — and is one of the only members on the team who played at UMass before the team started playing home games at Gillette Stadium.

Andre’s played for three different head coaches, captained the UMass defense and is, without question, the vocal leader of the team.

Yet throughout his career with the Minutemen, he’s never played in front of his mother, Rosalind Budgeon. But that will change Friday.

“She’s never seen me play in a college game,” Andre said. “She’s been to Amherst, but she’s never been to a game. It’ll be really nice to have her here.”

And while it’s the first time his mother has seen him play, for most other UMass fans accustomed to watching Andre, it will be the last time No. 35 mans the middle of the field of the Minutemen.

Andre is one of three UMass seniors, joining defensive tackle Daniel Maynes and defensive back Quayshun Smith. The team plans to honor its seniors on Senior Day Friday in advance of kickoff.

For Andre, a redshirt senior, it’s the culmination of a long, proud career.

“You never really know what you have until it’s gone,” Andre said. “I’ve been really blessed with the teammates that I have. To come out and play Division I football, that’s obviously a blessing.”

Andre’s appeared in every game this season for UMass, making 111 tackles while adding a sack, a fumble recovery and three pass deflections. He’s defensive captain and responsible for relaying plays and defensive schemes to his fellow teammates on the field.

According to UMass coach Mark Whipple, he’s been everything the first-year coach could ask for.

“He’s been tremendous,” Whipple said. “He hasn’t missed anything, he’s a guy you can lean on, a guy you can talk to. He gives the pulse of the team, he’s a leader. He’s done a great job.”

Andre’s impact is often felt as much in the locker room as it is on the field. He’s a stout run-stopper, but he’s also the glue within the locker room and the bridge of communication from the coaching staff to the players. UMass defensive coordinator Tom Masella said that Andre was the one player the team needed on the field every day in an interview with The Daily Collegian in August.

“He’s great, he’s been absolutely terrific,” Masella said. “He’s a calming influence and a voice of reason with our kids on the team that puts them in a comfortable position. And at the same time, he’s a very good football player, he’s a smart football player who really works at it.”

It’s rare to hear coaches rave to such an extent about an individual player. When asked about how the coaching staff held him in special regard, Andre paused and reflected for a moment before answering.

“It’s pretty cool to be recognized,” he said. “But at the same time, we all play as a unit. We do it as a defense, we do it as an offense. It’s not one player making all the players. It’s cool to be recognized and all, but at the end of the day, it’s a team game.”

It’s the type of team-first response that’s become a staple of interview sessions with Andre. When asked about his favorite memory at UMass, it didn’t take long for him to incorporate the entire team into his response.

“I’d say my favorite moment is really just watching our offense play,” he said. “Our offense is really dynamic, we’ve got some play-making guys … they’re really guys that go in week in and week out and work hard and do their thing.”

As he enters Friday’s game, he’ll have one last chance to make an impact for the Minutemen. It’s something he’s conscious of, but he wants to channel it into positive momentum.

“The thoughts are not so much, ‘Oh my god, this is my last one,'” Andre said. “It’s more just, ‘This is my last one, I’m really enjoying it in the moment.’ It’s going out and playing with your teammates who you bleed and sweat with and work hard with. Go out and play your game, that’s all you can do.”

Mark Chiarelli can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Mark_Chiarelli.

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