Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass quarterback Ross Comis using spring practices as time to get acclimated to starting role, relationship with receivers

By Andrew Cyr

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(Collegian File Photo)

It doesn’t take too much time to notice the difference in play style between Massachusetts quarterback Ross Comis and his predecessor, Blake Frohnapfel.

Comis, a 6-foot, 208-pound dual-threat quarterback has spent most of his career in the shotgun is opposite to the taller, tradition pro-style quarterbacks that UMass coach Mark Whipple has coached throughout his career, most recently the 6-foot-6 Frohnapfel.

The spring has been a learning curve for both Comis and Whipple, as the two have used this time as a way to get acclimated with each other’s tendencies before the summer practices begin.

“I think it’s different for him, but he knows that I can move around and move the pocket,” Comis said after Saturday’s practice. “He put in a read-option for me earlier in the spring so we are running that kind of stuff. I don’t know if we’ll put in more, but we are trying to adapt to each other in the pass game, as well as moving my feet in the pocket.”

Comis appeared in six games in 2015 as Frohnapfel’s backup, finishing the year 15-of-21 for 177 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, said that the biggest adjustment he’s had to make this spring is the transition into being the alpha-male and on-field coach for the Minutemen at the quarterback position.

“I think the biggest adjustment is being the man. I was a leader last year, but I was behind (Frohnapfel). I learned from him. Stepping into the leadership role this year of being the number one guy was probably the biggest adjustment.”

In addition to adjusting to his leadership role, Comis has used the spring as a time to get familiar with UMass’ inexperience receiving corps. The Minutemen lost their top three receivers in Tajae Sharpe, Rodney Mills and Marken Michel due to graduation.

Shakur Nesmith is the only player on the UMass roster to have a touchdown reception in 2015. Nesmith finished with three of the Minutemen’s 18 total receiving touchdowns last year.

Bernard Davis and Jalen Williams, who both received redshirts last year, along with Nesmith will be the top three targets for UMass in 2016. Williams appeared in 11 games in 2014 for 20 receptions, 307 receiving yards and four touchdowns, while Davis had two catches for 20 yards.

“I know more targets are going to be coming my way, it’s exciting now. I just hope to make the plays when they come my way,” Nesmith said after Saturday’s practice.

“Before I was just a deep guy, taking the safety away for underneath stuff. That was my role last year, now I feel like they know what I can do and we can start exposing defenses,” Nesmith added.

“They’ve come up big..,” Comis said of his receivers. “Jalen is still getting back from his injury so, it’s tough to chemistry with these guys going in an out with injuries, but it is spring ball. This is the time where we can get some chemistry between each other, and get better for camp and ultimately the season,”.

With only 10 days left until the spring game, Comis believes that the Minutemen can rely on him as a leader both on and off the field. His in-game experience last season and his performance throughout spring practices this year could prove him right.

“I think after last year when I proved myself on the field, they’ve come out and they trust me on the field and in the huddle they listen to me. They trust me to go make plays.”

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

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