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 welcomes nine freshmen recruits

Seven offensive and two defensive recruits compile freshman class
Kalina Kornacki
Daily Collegian (2023)

Ahead of the 2024 season, the Massachusetts football team was busy recruiting, signing nine freshmen to join the squad for the upcoming year. Seven of the players coming in will play on the offensive side of the ball, with the other two fill in gaps defensively.

Coming off its best season since 2019, UMass seems to be getting on track to improve. The new recruits will play a huge role in making up for players who moved on from the Minutemen this offseason.

Although the incoming transfers might have a better chance on making an impact day one, it can’t be overstated how important a good freshman recruiting class can be for the long-term success of a college football team.

These new recruits all have the chance to make a name for themselves in the future with the Minutemen. Here’s a little bit of information on each recruit and some of head coach Don Brown’s thoughts on the players.

Kezion Dia-Johnson | WR | Phoenix, Arizona | 6’0” | 180 lbs

Dia-Johnson joins UMass as one of its highest-ranked recruits of all time, coming in as a three-star wide receiver who totaled 1,855 yards receiving on 112 receptions, along with 24 touchdowns.

The Arizona native had offers from the University of Arizona, California, Fresno State and Kansas but decided to come to Amherst and play for the Minutemen.

Da’Marion Alberic | RB | West Palm Beach, Florida | 5’10” | 170 lbs

Alberic signs with UMass as a three-star running back who tallied 1,452 rushing yards on 198 carries, averaging 7.3 per carry and added 13 touchdowns in his high school career. He also had offers from East Tennessee State and Eastern Kentucky.

“[Alberic’s] a lightning-in-a-bottle player,” Brown said. “Quick, agile, great change of direction, good short area quickness.”

Tanner Burlingame | OL | Endwell, New York | 6’5” | 270 lbs

Burlingame will be tasked with attempting to fill an offensive line for the Minutemen that has been depleted due to graduation and the transfer portal. The three-star recruit played four years in high school while getting some experience playing on defense as well.

“[Burlingame’s] very athletic, played both ways,” Brown said. “He’ll play offensive line for us. Really comes from an outstanding program … We’re excited to get him to play tackle for Alex Miller here.”

AJ Hairston | QB | Pompano Beach, Florida | 6’3” | 215 lbs 

Hairston is the newest freshman quarterback to make McGuirk Alumni Stadium his home. A three-star recruit, he threw for 8,098 yards on 472-for-671 passing with 77 touchdowns in his high school career.

“[Hairston’s] dual-threat guy, a guy that can really run as well,” Brown said. “We try to sign a freshman [quarterback] each year and obviously we think we’ve got a good one there.”

Ludovic Martin | TE | Montreal, Quebec | 6’5’ | 230 lbs

Martin aims to fill a big hole left by 2024 NFL Draft prospect Gino Campiotti’s departure. The three-star tight end had 28 catches for 381 yards with three touchdowns in 13 games in high school. The Canadian held offers from Arkansas State, Brown, Charlotte and Eastern Kentucky.

“We’re excited of what [Martin] can bring to our offense,” Brown said. “A good pass catcher from the tight end position, those guys are hard to find.”

Kenyon Massey | WR | Newark, New Jersey | 5’10” | 185 lbs

Massey comes in as a three-star recruit with offers from Akron, Bethune-Cookman, Delaware State and Gardner-Webb. With 2,006 receiving yards on 131 catches with 21 touchdowns in his career, the New Jersey native looks to become a new weapon for the UMass offense.

“[Massey’s] no stranger to the ball,” Brown said. “He’s a guy you want to get the ball in his hands for sure.”

Brock Taylor | OL | Hanover, Virginia | 6’3” | 280 lbs

Another player equipped to help the depth on the offensive line, Taylor comes in as a three-star recruit with experience on both sides of the ball in the trenches.

“[Taylor’s] a four-year varsity player, thick, strong, great leverage, loves to finish,” Brown said. “Those guys are hard to find, so we’re excited we got one.”

Keith Sarkodieh | DB | Worcester, Massachusetts| 6’2” | 190 lbs

With experience at both defensive back and wide receiver, Sarkodieh totaled 19 solo tackles and 12 assisted tackles to go along with an interception as a junior and as a senior.

“[Sarkodieh] has outstanding coverage ability, could play corner, could play safety,” Brown said. “We’re excited about him because we can plug him into any one of the four positions and he has outstanding position flexibility.”

Brahim Wynn | DE | Camden, New Jersey | 6’3” | 235 lbs

To wrap up the 2024 freshman class for the Minutemen, they signed Wynn whose versatility allowed him to play at outside linebacker as well as edge. The New Jersey native finished his high school career with 24.5 sacks, five tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 96 solo tackles.

“I’m going to lean to [Wynn] and I’m excited about what he brings to the table from a pass rush ability, no question,” Brown said. “Great competitor and he loves the havoc.”

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

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