Mark Whipple finished his first year with the Massachusetts Minutemen with the message that the 2015 football season would build on the progress made from the 2014 campaign. Whipple sure brought that attitude on the recruiting trail as he brought in a strong class with 20 prospects officially signing their letters of intent and they announced seven early spring enrollees. With only six players graduating and Jean Sifrin leaving early for the NFL Draft it was more about quality than quantity for the Minutemen, although it they were able to do both.
Coaches waiting to welcome the new Minutemen to the @UMassAmherst family. #GoUMass #WeWinTogether pic.twitter.com/PZUhG21Jtu— UMass Football (@UMassFootball) February 4, 2015
UMass really attacked the offensive line as it added five guys who were all ranked by 247Sports with three 3 stars and two 2 stars.
* denotes transfer/spring enrollee
** denotes preferred walkon
|Joe Parsons||Westwood, Massachusetts (Xaverian Brothers High School)||OL||2 Star||6-5 /285||Y|
|Lee Moses||Warwick, Rhode Island (Bishop Hendricken High School)||DB||2 Star||6-1 /200||Y|
|Michael Yerardi||Suffield, Connecticut (Suffield Academy)||OL||3 Star||6-6 /305||Y|
|Jack Driscoll||Madison, Connecticut (Daniel Hand High School)||OL||3 Star||6-3 /250||Y|
|Derek Dumais||Marblehead, Massachusetts (Marblehead High School)||OL||2 Star||6-5 /320||Y|
|James Sosinski||Chandler, Arizona (Chandler Hamilton High School)||QB||2 Star||6-7 /240||Y|
|Mario Patton||Cleveland, Ohio (Cleveland Heights High School)||DL||3 Star||6-3 /290||Y|
|Michael Caggiano||Manalapan, New Jersey (Manalapan High School)||K||NR||5-10 /160||Y|
|James Oliphant||Fort Lauderdale, Florida (St. Thomas Aquinas High School)||DB||NR||5-9 /155||Y|
|Reche Thomas||Vero Beach, Florida (Vero Beach High School)||OL||3 Star||6-4 /325||Y|
|Artayvious Lynn||Bossier City, Louisiana (Parkway High School)||TE||NR||6-6 /200||Y|
|Aaron Kinsey||Miami, Florida (Northwestern High School)||DE||2 Star||6-4 /225||Y|
|Sekai Lindsay||Melbourne, Florida (Palm Bay High School)||RB||3 Star||5-10 /200||Y|
|D'Shan Harley||Wichita Falls, Texas (Hirschi High School)||DE||NR||6-5 /215||Y|
|James Bowe Jr.||Miami, Florida (Miami Killian High School)||LB||2 Star||6-2 /200||Y|
|Brandon Mangram||Buford, Georgia (Buford High School)||DB||2 Star||5-10 /175||Y|
|Marshall Robinson||Mars, Pennsylvania (Mars Area High School)||DT||NR||6-4 /330||Y|
|Sam Franklin||Crystal River, Florida (Citrus High School)||WR/DB||3 Star||6-3 /185||Y|
|Tavis Reynolds||Brisbane, Australia (Bayside)||TE||NR||6-6 /235|
|Andy Isabella||Mayfield Village, Ohio (Mayfield High School)||ATH||NR||5-10 /174||Y|
|*Marquis Young||Fairport, New York (Milford Academy)||RB||3 Star||6-0 /200||Y|
|*Tom Rodrick||Leicester, Massachusetts (Transer: UConn)||LB||NR||6-3 /230||Y|
|*Darrien Josey||Boynton Beach, Florida (Transfer: Hawaii)||WR||NR||6-2 /165||Y|
|*Micah Morel||Fairport, New York (Milford Academy)||DB||NR||5-11 /185||Y|
|*Dejoin Evans||Boston, Massachusetts (Taft Prep)||WR||NR||6-3 /200|
|*Randall West||Lawrenceville, New Jersey (Lawrenceville School)||QB||2 Star||6-4 /215|
|*Lamarriel Taylor||San Diego, California (Mission Bay High School)||WR||2 Star||6-3 /200|
|**Kenny Kern||Westwood, Massachusetts (Xaverian Brothers High School)||FB/LB||NR||6-0 /227||Y|
Both Randall West and Lamarriel Taylor were signed in the 2014 class but never enrolled at UMass. They were officially announced as 2015 spring enrollees. Kenny Kern isn't an official player in the 2015 class since he is a preferred walkon. However he was swayed by Matt Tuleja and Joe Colton to decommit from Assumption so I think it's safe to say that he will be coming to Amherst.
Reche Thomas may be the cream of this crop. He has been heralded as the best offensive line recruit to come to Amherst and is rated a three star prospect by pretty much every major recruiting site. He's already got the size at 6-3, 325 and is an absolute force. He is joined by many other talented O-lineman but he is the man to watch. Two other guys, Joe Parsons and Michael Yerardi could also develop into very nice players down the road. Parsons hails from the Massachusetts powerhouse Xaverian which is also home to UMass' own Joe Colton and Matt Tuleja.
Another highly sought after young man was Sekai Lindsay out of Florida. Lindsay is a bruising running back that had garnered interest from the dreaded Big Ten. Early in the summer he had been committed to Purdue and holds an offer from Illinois. The Minutemen backfield is a very crowded place so he may not see the field much this year but he should develop into a very nice ball carrier.
On the outside Sam Franklin will be another guy that should develop into a serious playmaker. He can play both sides of the ball but will most likely stick to offense. He's the 124 rated player out of the state of Florida. He combines his 6-foot-3 frame with 4.4 speed and is right up there as the best player in the class. A truly great commit for UMass especially since he was not a verbal and was still making up his mind. He had offers from Kentucky and Indiana with the Wildcats the favorite to land him before today.
UMass also did a nice job of getting some quality transfer talent in Tom Rodrick. Rodrick chose UConn back in 2013 but after Paul Pasqualoni got fired, he left the program. The linebacking core was strong last year but with Jovan Santos-Knox entering his senior year its time to get younger.
Two pass rushers to watch are D'Shan Harley and Aaron Kinsey. Harley is from the great state of Texas and has good size at 6-6. In only eight games last year he had 15 sacks. Kinsey also had 15 sacks in his junior season back in 2013. With pass rushing a serious hole in the Minutemen defense last year, signing these two is a serious step in the right direction.
D’Shan Harley signed with @UMassFootball earlier this morning - had 15 sacks in 8 games last fall #WeWinTogether pic.twitter.com/eMl4VCqePO— UMass Athletics (@UMassAthletics) February 4, 2015
Immediate Impact Guys:
Reche Thomas (see above) is a guy who should come in and compete right away. With a lot of the offensive line returning it will be interesting to see if any of the other commits can crack the lineup.
The player that might have the biggest impact right away though is the kicker Mike Caggiano. Every Minutemen fan knows the struggles of the kicking game last year and Caggiano has a very strong leg for a freshman and should compete right away. He could very well win the starting job in the summer as last year proved he doesn't have much competition. He can handle kick offs as well as place kicking and is the top kicking prospect in the Northeast.
This was a very strong class for Whipple and not just based on the number of ranked recruits. He showed that UMass can go into key states like Florida, Texas, and even Louisiana to get talent thanks to his extensive recruiting connections. UMass definitely added some beef up front offensively but didn't add much on the defensive line. While returning many starters, Mario Patton is a nice piece at DT and should give them some good depth. I really like Whipple's decision to give a kicker a scholarship right out of high school. Most schools will offer a preferred walk on spot but given the severity of the need it was a very good call by Whipple.
Anytime you can have Florida as your top state of recruits you have to be happy. After the seven Florida commits Whipple showed that he can bring in the homegrown talent too with six players from the Bay State.
There probably isn't a guy who will come in and dominate quite like Sifrin and Frohnapfel did last year but with all the returning starters for the Minutemen that shouldn't be a concern. Being able to get Sam Franklin was a great surprise today along with getting an Aussie! All Minutemen fans should be excited today as we welcome these young men to Amherst.