Rob Blanchflower is many things for the UMass Minutemen. He is their captain, their vocal leader, their starting tight end and their most productive returning offensive player. As training camp winds down and the Minutemen prepare for their opening game against Wisconsin, you can add "questionable" to the list.
UMass coach Charley Molnar confirmed on Tuesday that Blanchflower would be held out of the remaining practices and his status is still up in the air for their August 31 contest in Madison.
"[Blanchflower] has been in and out of the lineup during summer camp and we made an executive decision based on the medicals to hold him for the next 10 to 14 days," Molnar said. "How that will effect his status for Wisconsin remains to be seen."
Molnar said that there are at least two separate injuries hampering Blanchflower and that if it had been just one thing he would likely be out at practice, but because of the nature of both injuries it is more important for him to heal than be out on the field every day. With so much experience, Blanchflower can afford to miss some time and allow some of the players behind him on the depth chart to get acclimated to the offense.
In 10 games last season Blanchflower caught 43 passes for 464 yards and two touchdowns and was one of the most consistent targets for quarterback Mike Wegzyn during his freshman season. Derek Beck has seen some time in Blanchflower's absence and is the only option at the position with any stats from last season (five games, three catches, 20 yards).
Also in the mix at the position is fifth-year transfer Ricardo Miller, who joined the Minutemen this season from Michigan. His experience is valuable, but Miller has never seen meaningful game action at the tight end position having only served on special teams at Michigan.
One of just two players to appear in our 2013 Top 68 MAC Football Players, Blanchflower is one of the most talented players on the offense in addition to the emotional weight he carries with his fellow players. A tough kid from Leominster, Mass., the smart money is on Blanchflower to be in uniform on Aug. 31.
But until then, the tight end/senior/captain/leader is also questionable.