Entering his first year as head coach at the University of Massachusetts, Mark Whipple has announced his first recruiting class to lead the Whip era. The class ended up with 24 players signing National Letters of Intent to play football for UMass, including seven transfers and five players already enrolled
Whipple, hired in January to be the new leader of the Minutemen did a good job to come in and attack specific needs of the team in such a short period. Football starts in the trenches and that's exactly where Whipple attacked first, signing 7 lineman (offensive and defensive). UMass lost 15 seniors from last season with four coming from the the defensive line and two on the offensive line. It is likely that many of these players will come in and contribute right away.
STANDOUTS:It's hard not to start with a few of the transfers as they look to compete right away so I'll begin with them. QB Blake Frohnapfel will compete for the starting job and has a shot at getting it as A.J. Doyle struggled last season.Frohnapfel has received high praise from everyone at Marshall but he was just in a difficult QB battle and wasn't going to see any playing time. Another transfer who will look to compete right away is WR Alex Kenney. I expect Kenney to line up in the slot and his blazing speed (reported 4.43 40 yard dash) should give UMass a deep threat they desperately needed last season. TE Jean Sifrin may be the biggest name that UMass signed. He is a very talented player and was highly recruited with offers from Oklahoma, USC, and Kansas. He should have an immediate impact as UMass only has two tight ends returning.
Jake Largay, a 3-Star player (according to 247sports) may have the best chance to come and in play a significant role right away. The Minutemen return just four defensive linemen and three of them are edge rushers. With his size, Largay can help plug the middle and be a very good run stopper.
Three players that look like they will have great careers at UMass are RB J.T. Blyden, WR Lamarriel Taylor and QB Ross Comis. Blyden, a 3-Star player is a change of pace back and will get stronger after spending time with UMass strength coach, Mike Golden. UMass is deep at the RB position which could give Blyden a year to get stronger and work on his skills. Taylor is a big target and has great hands. He locates the ball at the highest point and looks to be a dangerous target. Like Blyden, he could also use a year to get stronger but the future for both of these players looks very bright. Comis may end up being the sleeper pick for UMass. In his senior season alone he rushed for 2,037 yards and passed for 1,772 yards with 57 combined touchdowns. Even with theses numbers, he was not highly recruited. Comis is my prediction pick to be the biggest steal in the MAC recruiting class.
BIG PICTURE:Given the circumstances that Whipple was under, he managed to do a good job keeping players committed and signing new ones. They got a big commit in Sifrin that really boosted this class. I'd give this recruiting class a B- as it was in the middle of the pack with the rest of the MAC. Given a full year to recruit, I expect Whipple to have one of the top classes in the conference next year.
OFFICIAL HUSTLE BELT GRADE: B-
Here's a look at the full recruiting class:
|Angelas, Dimitri||Northville, MI (Northview)||OG||2-Star||6'5"/308||YES|
|Blyden, J.T.||Springfield, PA (Cardinal O'Hara)||RB||3-Star||5'11"/195||YES|
|Comis, Ross||Weirton, WV (Weirton Madonna)||QB||NR||6'2"/215||YES|
|Denton,Jon||Perry,KS (Coffeyville C.C.)||TE||NA||6'6"/260||YES|
|DiNicola, Dan||Brookline, MA (Dexter School)||OT||2-Star||6'6"/280||YES|
|Fernandez, Anthony||Rancho Cucamongo, CA (Rancho Cucamongo HS)||OL||NA||6'6"/280||YES|
|Fiske, Jordan||Hinsdale, MA (East Coast Prep)||TE||NA||6'3"/225||YES|
|Frohnapfel, Blake||Stafford, Virginia (Marshall)||QB||NA||6'6"/225||YES|
|Johnson, Ryan||St. Louis, MO (Garden City (Kan.) Community College)||OL||NA||6'5"/320||YES|
|Kenney, Alex||State College, PA (Penn State)||WR||NA||6'0"/195||YES|
|Porter, Liam||Franklin, MA (Dean College)||OT||2-Star||6'6"/276||YES|
|Sifrin, Jean||Hawthorne, CA (El Camino Junior College)||TE||3-Star||6'7"/250||YES|
|Taylor, Lamarriel||Chula Vista, CA (Mission Bay)||WR||2-Star||6'3"/185||YES|
|Verboys, Andrew||Armonk, NY (Fort Union Academy)||QB||2-Star||5'11"/197||YES|
|West, Randall||Trenton, NJ (The Lawrenceville School)||QB||2-Star||6'4"/215||YES|
|Williams, Jalen||Kennesaw, GA (Dean College||WR||3-Star||6'3"/205||YES|
|Addo, Jarell||Leominster, MA (Leominster Senior)||S||3-Star||6'1"/183||YES|
|Carter,Chris||Bridgewater, NJ (Bridgewater Raritan)||DE||2-Star||6'4"/240||YES|
|Downey, Da'Sean||White Plains, NY (Canterbury School)||DE||2-Star||6'5"/240||YES|
|Edmonds,Ezekiel||West Palm Beach, FL (Royal Palm Beach HS)||LB||NR||6'0"/200||YES|
|Largay, Jake||East Hartland, CT (Granby Memorial)||DL||3-Star||6'5"/275||YES|
|Singh, Charan||Murrysville, PA (Franklin Regional)||ATH||2-Star||6'2"/175||YES|
|Smiley, Joshua||Pomfret Center, CT (Pomfret School)||DE||2-Star||6'6"/243||YES|
|Wynne, Jack||Greenwich, CT (Greenwich)||DE||2-Star||6'4'/240||YES|
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