Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass football gets back in action with start of training camp

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(Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Daily Collegian)

As it always happens this time of year, the seasons fly by and return faster than anticipated. Football is back in Amherst, with the first practices for the Massachusetts football team now underway at Gladchuk Field.

“It was a real good day,” UMass coach Mark Whipple said after practice Monday. “Guys worked hard. We’re bigger, faster. We’ve seen them about once a week, so it’s been good.”

In their fifth season in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the Minutemen enter their first as an unaffiliated independent, leaving the Mid-American Conference after four years in hopes of being a more prominent, relevant and successful football program.

Most of the attention centered around the quarterbacks during Monday’s session. With the graduation of Blake Frohnapfel, Whipple declared redshirt sophomore Ross Comis the starter, at least for now, over transfer redshirt sophomore Andrew Ford from Lackawanna Community College, also previously from Virginia Tech.

Barring an unforeseen injury and other uncertainties that go into making the tough football decisions, Comis will be taking the first-team reps, and did so Monday afternoon. Those reps are scheduled to rotate, per Whipple, with Comis taking a day or two off in between.

“Ross has been in the system and played and done a good job,” Whipple said. “He’s the starter and Andrew’s right there with him. It’s really been good. And Randall (West) has improved … But those guys (Comis and Ford) are taking the 1s and 2s and Randall can step in. I think it’s the best situation we’ve been in since I’ve been here.”

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

“I’m just here doing whatever coach is asking me to do,” Ford said. “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.”

The offense will take another hit with the departure of Tajae Sharpe to the NFL, as the fifth-round draft choice is listed as a starter on the Tennessee Titans’ depth chart. Looking to reap the rewards of the vacancy of star power at the position are redshirt seniors Jalen Williams and Bernard Davis. Running backs Marquis Young and Sekai Lindsay also looks to factor in to the production on offense.

Enock Asante and Peter Angeh look to make it difficult for quarterbacks to sit in the pocket and stuff the run along the defensive line, with linebackers Steve Casali and Shane Huber and manning the middle. Ted Lowery, a transfer from Tyler Junior College (two interceptions) played a linebacker-saftey hybrid role Monday, with James Allen, Lee Moses, Khary Bailey-Smith and Jackson Porter starting in the secondary.

The Minutemen will open the season at the Swamp in Gainesville, Florida against the Gators September 3, and return home the following week to host rival Boston College at Gillette Stadium.

Kyle DaLuz can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @Kyle_DaLuz.

About the Writer
Kyle DaLuz, Managing Editor
The AJHL Rookie of the Year joins a Minutemen club undergoing major roster turnover.
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