Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Twelve recruits sign with UMass football during early signing period

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With the early college football signing period closing on Friday, Dec. 22, the Massachusetts football program has signed 12 recruits.

Nine defensive players and four offensive players–including two quarterbacks–made up the 12 players that coach Mark Whipple and his staff received National Letters of Intent from on Wednesday.

“It’s worked out well, it’s been good,” Whipple said on a conference call with reporters Thursday. “We’re still waiting on a couple of guys transfer wise that don’t fall under the National Letter of Intent that will come out later. I thought our guys did a good job, I thought the extra bi-week really helped and the time we were allowed the first week after the first six games really got us going in the right direction.”

According to Whipple there are still some prospective recruits holding out on signing with a school. While the early December signing period in its first year of existence ends on Dec. 22, the Spring signing period will begin on Feb. 7 and run until April 1, 2018.

“Yea, there are a couple of guys that we’ve had that we’re still dealing with that are trying to see what the water is like,” Whipple said. “That kind of hasn’t happened at the end but I think that has to do with a lot of high school coaches and the parents who just want to wait and see, we have two more days or a day and a half here. So we’ll see how that works out, there are no more visits until middle of January, but some people may say take a visit and see what happens so we’ll just kind of play with those guys a little bit at that point.”

Whipple highlighted a few recruits during the conference call.

Josiah Johnson (quarterback, 6-foot-5/ 197 pounds)

Josiah Johnson and fellow recruit Jaret Pallotta are the fifth and sixth scholarship quarterbacks on the UMass roster. However, signing Johnson wasn’t something Whipple initially planned on doing.

“And Josiah came to camp late and we kind of felt he was too good to pass up, we really liked the way he threw the ball,” Whipple said. “I didn’t plan on [signing two quarterbacks], but he didn’t have a chance to play because of the quarterback before him went to Alabama. So it was his first year and kind of went under the radar, and we thought he did a good job, the staff did. It’s one of those things, yea you kind of overload them, but I never had enough good quarterbacks. He was just too good in our eyes to pass up so we’ll see how we’re going to handle that later on.”

Johnson most recently played at the Bolles School in Jacksonville, Florida.

Elijah Johnson (defensive back, 5-foot-11/ 194 pounds)

Hailing from East Longmeadow, Massachusetts, Elijah Johnson is the only recruit so far to hail from Massachusetts. Whipple likened Elijah Johnson to junior cornerback Lee Moses.

“He was in our camp and we watched him, I really liked him in camp,” Whipple said. “Quite honestly, coach [Ed] Pinkham was on me about offering him early but kind of what happened at the end of us, we offered two kids last week who were coming on visits and they both got power five offers right after. We thought he was going to be a really good player, a really good kid. We had been to a bunch of his games, he’s been up and we pulled the trigger. We’ve been wanting to do that for a while, we were going to do it right after camp but just the way this business operates, every time we offer somebody, everyone comes in.”

Three recruits from Canada

Samuel Emilus (wide receiver), Darren Kyeremeh (linebacker) and Arnold Mbembe (defensive lineman) all come from Vanier College in Montreal, Canada.

Whipple was asked if Tyris Lebeau’s successful transition from playing in Canada to playing Division I football in the United States had played a role at all in the program’s decision to offer three more Canadian players scholarships. While Lebeau’s transition helped, Whipple gave more of the credit to assistant coach Mike Foley.

“I think Mike Foley did a really good job at UConn with some of those guys and they built a relationship, he’s always been a really good recruiter and very professional and represents any school, especially now that he’s at UMass, well,” Whipple said. “And a lot of those guys who come down are a little bit older, yea Tyris had something to do with it but it really went down back to Mike. Those guys, like I said, are a year older, it’s not that far away, they’re athletic and talented guys. I think for sure we would have liked to redshirted Tyris last year but we thought he was good enough to play and used him in some spots and I think he is only going to get better.”

Here are the other seven players who have signed their NLI’s to play at UMass:

Darian Green (linebacker, 5-foot-11/ 217 pounds)

Timothy Moulton (defensive lineman, 6-foot-3/ 240 pounds)

Michael Nesmith (linebacker, 5-foot-10/ 190 pounds)

Parker Ogle (offensive lineman, 6-foot-3/ 290 pounds)

Dennis Osagiede (defensive lineman, 6-foot-1/ 290 pounds)

Jaret Pallotta (quarterback, 6-foot-5/ 205 pounds)

Da’Shon Ross (linebacker, 5-foot-11/ 210 pounds)

Philip Sanzo can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Philip_Sanzo.

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