UMass tight end Jean Sifrin mulls future, potential NFL career

By Mark Chiarelli

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Photo by Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

Photo by Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

When asked about the Massachusetts football team’s season coming to an end, tight end Jean Sifrin sighs.

It’s a loud, distinctive sigh — the type of reaction which is expected from a player with plenty on his mind. Of all the players on the team, Sifrin’s utter disdain for losing games is most noticeable, and UMass (3-8) has done more losing this season than he’d hoped or expected.

“No, definitely not,” Sifrin said when asked if it feels like the season should be ending.

“It’s a complete opposite season,” he said. “It should be working on going to either the Mid-American Conference Championship game or getting ready to get selected to a bowl game. But there’s nothing I can do about that.”

In reality, Sifrin had lot to do with the three UMass victories this season. His 621 receiving yards are third highest for tight ends throughout the country. He’s caught 40 passes, six of them for touchdowns, and since his addition into the lineup week two against Colorado, Sifrin’s commanded specialized coverages and extra attention.

At 6-foot-7, 250 pounds, he’s a unique talent. It routinely takes multiple tacklers to drag him down and he has a knack for making spectacular catches. Against Colorado in his first game of the season, Sifrin made a leaping one-handed catch in the end zone as he was sandwiched by two defenders. The play put him on the radar of coaches and fans both locally and nationally.

He’s remained on that radar throughout the season, which is why, as Sifrin’s final game of the season approaches, so too does a decision which will impact the rest of his life.

Sifrin is torn on making a decision about his future. At 27 years old, the window of opportunity to play in the NFL is much more limited than the typical college junior. Conversely, he’s just one season away from potentially graduating from UMass with a degree, something both he and his mother think is extremely important.

However, according to Sifrin, the decision isn’t overly difficult.

“It’s not a tough decision,” he said. “It’s just timing. It’s basically coming out at the right time.”

Sifrin possesses a rare blend of attributes which makes him an interesting NFL prospect. He’s drawn comparisons to current New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham, and the two share similar backgrounds in certain regards. Both played basketball growing up — Graham at Miami and Sifrin at multiple community college and high school stops — and both played for current Minutemen coach Mark Whipple.

The NFL also intrigues Sifrin on a personal level. He’s the father of a seven-year-old son and values the ability to take care of his family.

“If the opportunity to help my family comes now, I’m going to take it,” Sifrin said.

Sifrin said that announcing his intent to play at the NFL is predicated around multiple things, such as how next semester unfolds, what other tight ends declare for the draft and whether he feels it’s the right opportunity for him. Some of those factors are out of his control and thus, according to Sifrin, he’s not focusing on them.

For now, he’s focused on Buffalo and enjoying his time in Amherst. It’s been a long journey for Sifrin, who took a job in a warehouse upon graduating high school and attended two different community colleges before transferring to UMass. The opportunity to spend this season with the Minutemen provided Sifrin stability, and may have provided him a chance to continue to play football professionally.

According to Sifrin, 2014 was a “blessing.”

“That’s basically it,” he said with a smile. “It’s been a blessing.”

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