Peter Angeh ready to take step forward on UMass football’s defensive line

By Andrew Cyr

Daily Collegian File Photo
(Daily Collegian File Photo)

For the past few seasons, the Massachusetts football team’s defensive line has been a young and inexperienced group. Highlighted by up and coming underclassmen for the better parts of 2013-15, UMass now has an experienced group of returning veterans poised to make a big impact in the upcoming season.

But for Peter Angeh, who’s entering his senior season with the Minutemen this upcoming fall, time is against him. The opportunity to make an impact comes down to this year.

“It’s hard to think about, but I’ve slowly come into that realization more and more every day,” Angeh said after last Wednesday’s spring practice.

Angeh has played in all 36 career appearances during his time at UMass dating back to his freshman year in 2013, where he appeared in 12 games as a reserve. Since then, the 6-foot-1, 263-pound, Silver Spring, Maryland native started every game during his sophomore and junior season. Last year, switching between defensive end and defensive tackle as the season went along, Angeh finished with 33 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and recovered a fumble.

After playing alongside former Minutemen defensive linemen Robert Kitching III and Daniel Maynes and even 3-4 outside linebackers Trey Seals and Kassan Messiah over the past couple of years, Angeh is now the most experienced player on the defensive front and will be forced to take on more of a leadership role on defense.

“I’m definitely looking forward to it. I feel like naturally as the time has passed, it’s definitely a role I’ve stepped into,” Angeh said.

“I feel like one of the biggest parts here is just showing everyone the right thing to do and not necessarily being the guy that’s yelling at everyone, but trying to show everyone the step in the right direction and having the right attitude.”

UMass defensive coordinator Tom Masella agreed with Angeh’s self-assessment.

“(Angeh) has been a really good football player for us and he’s not a vocal guy or a loud guy, but he plays harder than anybody. He plays the hardest, if you look at our film week in and week out, he plays harder than anybody, and he’s a good player.”

Masella added: “He has to lead, I’m hoping he’s a little bit more vocal, but he leads by what he does and it’s more about what he does than what he says.”

Last season, the Minutemen ranked 12th out of 13 teams in the Mid-American Conference in sacks with only 15 on the year, and also ranked 11th in run defense where they allowed an average of 192.9 rushing yards per game. UMass’ two worst games in 2016 came against Colorado where it allowed 390 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 59 carries, and Notre Dame where the Irish ran for 457 yards and six touchdowns on 51 carries.

For the Minutemen stopping the run will be one of biggest challenges they face entering 2016. And while UMass’ opener against Florida on Sept. 3 is still a long way away, Angeh said that both he and the rest of the Minutemen have put in the necessary legwork during the offseason and spring practices with new coaches Matt Dawson (defensive line) and Joe Connolly (strength and conditioning) to put themselves in a position to succeed in 2016.

“I feel a lot faster and a lot stronger, definitely bigger. I definitely gained a lot of weight, but at the same time I don’t feel like it’s slowing me down that much because it was good weight that I put on,” Angeh said.

After failing to reach internal expectations of making a bowl game in 2015, reaching the postseason is the only thing that Angeh cares about and has set aside his own personal goals to focus on that.

“My personal goal is to go to a bowl. I’ve been here for three years and we haven’t been to a bowl game. I don’t really care about any personal accolades or personal things, I just want to have that experience and be able to look back on my career and see that.”

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