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

Maynard: UMass football’s transfers could change the landscape of the program

12 offensive and seven defensive players highlight signing day additions for the Minutemen
Kalina Kornacki
Daily Collegian (2023)

The Massachusetts football team had a busy national signing day, signing 19 transfer students to come to Amherst for the 2024 season. After bringing in nine freshmen, UMass got some players with some collegiate experience as well, looking to fill the gaps left by the players that have moved on from the team.

The 2023 season was the best for the program since 2019, and the transfer additions prior to the season played a huge role. I believe that the team is building off that and has a bright future ahead.

Here’s a little bit of information on some of the highest-ranked recruits who look to make an impact on day one with their new team.

Frank Ladson Jr. | WR | Miami, Florida | 6’3” | 205 lbs

Ladson Jr. comes in as one of the highest-ranked recruits in the history of UMass. The former four-star is transferring in from the University of Miami where he caught 27 passes for 298 receiving yards with one touchdown.

Before his time with the Hurricanes, Ladson Jr. spent three seasons with Clemson, catching passes from eventual NFL first-overall pick Trevor Lawrence. He totaled 428 receiving yards on 31 catches to go along with six touchdowns.

The new Minuteman features elite size at the wide receiver position at six-foot-three. He utilizes his height and body control to be a huge weapon when it comes to contested catching. His big-play-ability will bring a much-needed aspect to UMass’ offense.

One of the most important things about Ladson Jr.’s transfer to the Minutemen is his relationship with starting quarterback Taisun Phommachanh. The pair played together at Clemson from 2019-2021 for all three years that each player was there. Their connection and rapport with each other should only help their production on the field.

With Anthony Simpson being the only starting wide receiver still with UMass heading into 2024, Ladson Jr. has a great opportunity to get tons of playing time and be a large part of the offense. The Minutemen have lacked a dominant presence in the form of a deep threat, and Ladson Jr. could be the answer.

Paul Tchio | OL | Roswell, Georgia | 6’5” | 290 lbs

Another transfer addition with ties back to Phommachanh would be a welcome sight for UMass, right? Tchio brings just that, as the former four-star interior offensive lineman spent time at both Clemson and Georgia Tech. The pair got two seasons together with the Tigers in 2020 and 2021, before both transferred to the Yellow Jackets in 2022.

Tchio appeared in 14 games with one start for Clemson, helping the Tigers exceed both 200 rushing yards and 200 passing yards with 33 snaps against South Carolina State in 2021.

The Georgia native brings elite physical traits to the Minutemen, hoping to reach his sky-high potential. To this point, things haven’t entirely planned out how he’d hoped, but a change of scenery hopes to give Tchio the ability to put it all together.

There is a definite need for offensive line help for UMass, after losing multiple starters from the 2023 season. Tchio has a spot for himself if he can earn it, which will be seen in the near future.

Brayden Rohme | OL | Chandler, Arizona | 6’6” | 290 lbs

Another player set to help fill in the holes left in the trenches of the offensive line, Rohme joins the Minutemen after playing five seasons at the University of California. He played in 35 total games, being a solid piece to a unit that had success throughout his tenure.

In the 2023 season, Rohme blocked for the Pac-12 leader in rushing yards per game Jaydn Ott (118.0 ypg, #4 NCAA) and a rushing offense that ranked third in the Pac-12 and 28th nationally with an average of 186.3 rushing yards per game.

He brings versatility on the offensive line, getting starts for the Golden Bears at both right and left tackle. Rohme has quickly become a fan favorite among UMass football’s Twitter/X users as well, being very active and creating a name for himself before even stepping on the field.

Dominick Mazotti | TE | Pleasanton, California | 6’4” | 223 lbs

Mazotti also has been busy on Twitter/X, joining the conversation with fans, encouraging them that he’s ready to become a big part of the Minutemen.

The former three-star recruit competed at San Jose State for five years, playing in 34 games with 20 starts, totaling 747 yards on 57 receptions with five touchdowns.

With Gino Campiotti leaving UMass for the 2024 NFL Draft, there is an opening at the tight end position, one that Mazotti is a huge candidate for. Coming out of high school as a quarterback himself, Mazotti shares many similarities to the former Minuteman. His combination of route running, hands and size could be the makings of the next leading safety valve for UMass.

Etinosa Reuben | DL | Kansas City, Missouri | 6’3” | 295 lbs

Reuben brings some versatility to the defensive side of the ball, coming in at a size that projects the ability to play both defensive tackle and end. The former three-star recruit transfers in from Georgia Tech, coming from Clemson before that. Sound familiar?

The situation for the Missouri native is a little bit different from the others who have played for the two programs, with Reuben playing four seasons with Clemson from 2019-2022, and joining the Yellow Jackets for just one year in 2023.

Although most of his seasons have been lacking in the statistic department, playing time has been an issue for Reuben in the past. In 2021, the defensive lineman got into 12 games and totaled 14 tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.

The Minutemen are in need of help in the front seven, always looking to bolster up the trenches. With the loss of former team captain Billy Wooden, Rueben looks to get a spot to show what he’s got and help UMass win games.

Jadrian Gibbs| VIPER | Hugo, Oklahoma | 6’0” | 200 lbs

The one player coming from a JUCO program, Gibbs looks to fill in Don Brown’s viper position within the UMass defense. The three-star recruit brings size, speed and versatility to help the Minutemen make up for the players they lost in 2023.

“We think [Gibbs] has all the attributes we look for in a viper,” Brown said. “He’s agile, he can rush the passer, he can drop into coverage, he can defend the run game. This is a guy that we’ll expect a lot from.”

Gibbs appeared in eight games for Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in 2022. He totaled 20 tackles with 11 solo and nine assisted while adding two tackles for loss, a sack and blocking one kick.

There are many more transfers that the Minutemen brought in from the portal in 2024, and many will have a great chance to make an impact. If Brown and the rest of the UMass program can keep building off 2023, I think that a bowl game is a real possibility this upcoming season.

Mike Maynard can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @mikecmaynard.

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