Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Randall West ready for opportunity in spring football game

Game will be held at 6 p.m. Friday

UMass Athletics

UMass Athletics

By Thomas Johnston, Assistant Sports Editor

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Randall West is eager to get back on the football field.

The redshirt sophomore quarterback put his football career aside for a brief moment this winter when he walked onto the UMass men’s basketball team, who’s roster took hit after hit.

West appeared in eight games for the Matt McCall’s Minutemen, but as soon as their tournament run ended his focus went directly back to football, where he will be competing for the backup quarterback spot behind Andrew Ford.

After a few weeks of practice, the UMass football team will host its spring football game Friday at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. This will be the first time this spring UMass will be able to go live with hitting and pads. While the atmosphere isn’t of a normal game, it is still a great opportunity for the players to get out and impress in front of the coaching staff.

No player may be in a better position to help their stock than West. He’s expected to get plenty of reps under center, as Ford is only expected to play about two series and backup QB Ross Comis—who started two games a season ago—won’t be suiting up, as the coaching staff is being cautious about a knee injury he has been recovering from.

“I got a little bit of game action last year and the year before that but obviously we’re not live in practice, so coach wants to see us put it all together in a game atmosphere so you can build that trust with him and the offensive coaches,” West said. “I’m really excited to get out there Friday and see what we got.”

Although West said it took him a few practices after his basketball stint for football to feel normal again, he now feels back in his rhythm. West has seen action in four games in his two years with the Minutemen, completing 3-of-5 attempts his freshman year for 45 yards, but failing to complete a pass in two appearances this past season.

Heading into his redshirt junior year, West is looking to put everything he’s learned in his past three years with the program together, and hopes it shows on the field.

“I’m looking to take a step forward,” West said. “The year before [in the spring game] I had a good game and last year I had a good game up until the interception late in the game. I’m trying to improve on those performances and the bad performance against Mississippi State in the game. I’m trying to take that next step and really take it to the next level to try to piece together more of my game and put it all together.”

West will be competing most of the game with fellow quarterbacks Michael Curtis and Mike Fallon for playing time. West suffered a cut on his non-throwing hand, but UMass coach Mark Whipple doesn’t think it should be an issue in the spring game.

“We’ll probably put him in a red shirt,” Whipple said. “I want him to play some. Mike Curtis has come on and Mike Fallon as well. Randall will get the first couple and good for Randall. He’s had a good spring, he just cut his thumb but I think we’ll get through it.”

The UMass offense was one of the bright spots from a year ago, averaging 30 points per game. Though tight end Adam Breneman graduated, the majority of the offense is returning; West feels that their chemistry is continuing to grow day-by-day.

“We had a lot of games where the offense scored a lot of points but the coaches are always saying you can never score enough points,” West said. “Even in all those games we probably left some points on the board. From top to bottom as an offense, we’re trying to make sure we stay sharp, handle our P’s and Q’s and go out and score touchdowns consistently.”

Thomas Johnston can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @TJ__Johnston.

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