Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass football coach Mark Whipple announces Ross Comis as starting quarterback, transfer Andrew Ford close behind

By Andrew Cyr

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Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

(Collegian File Photo)

Massachusetts quarterback Ross Comis is no stranger to position battles during the grueling preseason August practices, but this season he’s ready to take part in the team’s most important competition.

As a freshman in 2014, Comis watched as Marshall transfer Blake Frohnapfel earned the starting job and respect of his teammates after beating out former quarterback A.J. Doyle two years ago during camp.

This season, Comis (redshirt sophomore) finds himself in the middle of a competition of his own with newcomer Andrew Ford, who joined the Minutemen this season after spending time at both Virginia Tech and Lackawanna Community College.

“Any time there is competition, as a competitor you’re ready to go,” Comis said Monday after practice. “You get excited and the juices start flowing. I was excited today, and we had a good day.”

Although nothing is set in stone for UMass’ Sept. 3 season opener against Florida, Minutemen coach Mark Whipple told reporters Monday afternoon that Comis is the team’s starting quarterback moving forward, with Ford close behind.

“(Comis) has been in the system and played and done a good job. He’s the starter and Andrew’s right there with him. It’s really been good,” Whipple said.

“But those guys (Comis and Ford) are taking the 1s and 2s and Randall (West) can step in. I think it’s the best situation we’ve been in since I’ve been here.”

Comis took all the first-team reps Monday at practice, throwing to receivers Jalen Williams, Shakur Nesmith and Bernard Davis, as well as tight ends Todd Stafford and Penn State transfer Adam Breneman during 7-on-7’s and team drills.

Comis appeared in six games for UMass last season, going 15-of-21 (71.4-percent) with 171 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns serving as Frohnapfel’s backup. Against Notre Dame in South Bend, Comis went a perfect 8-for-8 with 69 yards, including a 33-yard touchdown pass to Nesmith in the fourth quarter.

“Coming out here I need to lead these guys. This is my team and I need to be ready to go – get these guys to trust me,” Comis said. “They trust me. It’s the kind of thing where with the way I played last year, they have a trust in me to come out and compete and win games for this team.

Whipple also mentioned that later in camp he’ll give other quarterbacks reps with the first team, and added that he likes to substitute different quarterbacks in with different groups depending on the specific play or situation.

“We’ll give (Comis) a day off. Like three days in, we’ll take that and move them around and mix up the reps. Or if there are certain plays that they haven’t had we might say ‘Randall, you take this one,’” Whipple said. “We’ve have the first week scripted but there might be some changes.”

“I’m just here doing whatever coach is asking me to do,” Ford (also a redshirt sophomore) commented when asked about competition for the starting job. “Whether that’s taking first team, second team or third team. Whatever they ask me to do I’m going to do. Just trying to get better as a player everyday the best I can.”

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

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