Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass football adds pair of running backs to 2016 recruiting class

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)
(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

There’s no question that come fall the Massachusetts football team’s offense will look and operate differently with the departures of quarterback Blake Frohnapfel and wide receiver Tajae Sharpe.

Frohnapfel and Sharpe fit perfectly into UMass coach Mark Whipple’s offensive scheme. The 6-foot-6 Frohnapfel was perfect under center in a pro-style offense while Sharpe was used in a series of different roles that ranged from lining up in the backfield to outside the numbers bunched with two offensive tackles – similar to how the Green Bay Packers use Randall Cobb.

With Ross Comis, a duel-threat, 6-foot redshirt sophomore expected to be the next quarterback for UMass and running back Marquis Young showing promising signs at the end of his 2015 freshman season, it’s becoming clear how Whipple plans on neutralizing the losses of Frohnapfel and Sharpe – with speed.

According to Bob McGovern Jr. of the Maroon Musket, the Minutemen added a pair of talented running backs to their 2016 recruiting class over the past week in Peytton Pickett and Tyler Thompson.

Pickett is a two-star, 5-foot-8, 183-pound running back from Arlington, Texas, according to He also had offers from Kansas, Southern Methodist and University of Texas at El Paso. He finished 225 carries, 1,550 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns in his senior season at Sam Houston High School.

Pickett initially committed to UTEP as an early enrollee according to the report, but it should not affect his status with UMass.

In addition to Pickett, the Maroon Musket also reported that Thompson committed to the Minutemen last Friday. Thompson is a three-star prospect and is the 74th ranked running back in the nation. He also held offers from Boston College, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Virginia amongst others.

Pittsburgh safety transfers to UMass

In addition to its losses on offense, the UMass secondary will have big shoes to fill with the departures of senior defensive backs Randall Jette, Kelton Brackett, Trey Dudley-Giles and Joe Colton.

Former Pittsburgh safety Patrick Amara announced his commitment to the Minutemen last Thursday via Twitter. Amara – 6-foot-2, 195 pounds – started 20 games in his two seasons with the Panthers, totaling 32 tackles, two pass break ups and an interception.

“After reopening my recruitment, weighing my options and making the best decision for me, I’ve decided to commit to the University of Massachusetts,” Amara said in the tweet.

“I’ll like to thank coach (Mark) Whipple and the UMass coaching staff or giving me an opportunity of achieving my hopes and dreams,” he added.

Per NCAA transfer rules, Amara will have to sit out the 2016 season but will have two years of eligibility remaining when he takes the field again in 2017.


Andrew Cyr can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.

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