Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass football’s five under-the-radar players to watch

Minutemen 0-4 since season opening win
Devin Lippman
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts football team’s record sits at 1-4 after starting the season 1-0 with its victory over New Mexico State, its first season opening win over an FBS team in over 40 years.

Players like Anthony Simpson, Billy Wooden and Carlos Davis have stood out despite the early struggles for the Minutemen (1-4), but there are still certainly candidates for late season breakouts.

Here are five players that I think are in line to have some intriguing performances as the schedule rolls along.


  1. WR Shawn Harris Jr. (R-JR)

In the Minutemen’s only victory of the 2022 campaign, Harris Jr. was seemingly the only bright spot on offense for Stony Brook. He tallied three catches for 72 yards against UMass and totaled 67 receptions and 1104 yards in his FCS career. Harris Jr. picked up interest in the offseason when he entered the transfer portal.

In his first time getting meaningful snaps against Eastern Michigan, Harris Jr. led the team in receptions and was second in receiving yards. He will certainly continue to get more opportunities as the season goes on.


  1. MLB Jerry Roberts Jr. (R-SR)

Entering his seventh season of college football, Roberts Jr. received praise from head coach Don Brown for his leadership off the field and performance on it.

Roberts Jr. is no stranger to Brown’s defensive philosophy, as he was recruited by Brown in 2021 when he transferred from Bowling Green to Arizona. This past winter he reunited with his former defensive coordinator.

After battling injuries at the beginning of the season, the Minutemen rely on the quarterback of the defense to replace the void left by the 2022 leading tackler Jalen Mackie.


  1. QB Ahmad Haston (FR)

Nicknamed “The Problem,” Haston is the second-highest rated quarterback prospect coming out of high school in UMass program history.

While Haston wasn’t being considered for playing time as a freshman, injuries to Taisun Phommachanh and Carlos Davis led to Haston getting his chance against New Mexico. Haston delivered with a 65-yard game-tying touchdown to Anthony Simpson, and finished 5-of-5 with 102 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion.

If he had a clearer path to playing time, Haston would be number one on this list, but since he would need both Phommachanh and Davis to be inactive to get action, I’ll keep him at number three for now.


  1. RB/PR/KR Greg Desrosiers Jr. (RS-SO)

Desrosiers showed flashes last season in his first collegiate season getting playing time after transferring from Louisville. The speedy running back rushed for 110 yards and two touchdowns against Liberty last season, showing off his speed on a 53-yard touchdown run.

With Kay’Ron Lynch-Adams dominating the backfield so far this season, Desrosiers has shown his versatility by being the team’s main receiving back and he has certainly delivered so far. The Lawrence native has raised his yards per catch from 3.0 all the way to 14.1 with a receiving touchdown and catch at home against Miami (OH).

I fully expect Desrosiers to continue to be a weapon in the receiving game and if anything were to happen to Lynch-Adams, he’d be the first man up.


  1. SAF Dashaun Jerkins (RS-SR)

Jerkins is my top under-the-radar player to watch. Ever since the spring game, Jerkins has stuck out to me for his knack to always be near the play, and he is a true ballhawk.

Jerkins played well in his three years at Vanderbilt before transferring to Ole Miss where he barely played at all. Now, at UMass, he’s been fighting a battle for playing time behind solidified starters Te’Rai Powell and Tyler Rudolph, but between injuries and rotations, Jerkins found his way onto the field.

His highlight of the season will surely be his pick-six against the RedHawks, but with his combination of physicality and speed, he has a real chance to be a gamechanger in the secondary, if he can stay healthy.


Josh Schreiber can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Jschreiber272.

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