UMass has landed a talented local specialist for their 2016 recruiting class. Kicker Randy Alay from Waltham, MA, announced his commitment on his Twitter page Saturday night. Alay is rated as a 4.5 star kicker and the #96 overall kicking prospect in the 2016 class by Kohl's Kicking, which is the premier recruiting service for specialists. Alay was also receiving strong interest from Cornell before committing to UMass.
OFFICIAL. https://t.co/MYzyjMDn4b— Randy Alay (@RandyAlayK1) August 29, 2015
KICKER- RANDY ALAY!! Along with an announcement... pic.twitter.com/CyVhmwEHNF— Hawk Nation Sports (@whsHNsports) August 29, 2015
Alay was kind enough to talk to Hustle Belt about his decision to attend the University of Massachusetts.
Hustle Belt: What drew you to UMass? Why did you decide that Amherst was the best spot for you?
Randy Alay: When I went to campus to work out with Coach (Shane) Waldron and Coach (Mark) Michaels I felt at home. It was a place I could see myself playing. All the coaches treated me as if I was already one of their players. And it's local, my family watching me play college ball has always been one of my dreams.
HB: Did the coaches at UMass give you an idea of whether they see you as a placekicker or as a punter?
RA: Well, they just brought in a kicker [freshman Michael Caggiano]. But they were impressed with my skills and are convinced I can come in and compete right away for the spot. I'm working on punting a lot more now because that could be my best chance to get on the field my freshman year, which is my goal.
HB: What would you say your range tops out at placekicking? Punting?
RA: My longest field goal has been 57 yards and I actually just hit my biggest punt today during practice at 56 yards from the line of scrimmage.
HB: You're not a small guy, definitely not what people may think of as a stereotypical kicker. Do you think that helps you in your game in any specific areas?
RA: I believe it does give me a slight advantage. I am certainly bigger than most kickers. I stand at 6'1" and 225 lbs. I use the size to my advantage when it comes to power. I know I can bring a lot of momentum forward in my swing.
HB: What are your goals when you arrive at UMass? Is there anything you'd like to accomplish right away?
RA: I'm hoping to arrive at UMass and focus right away on becoming an impact player. I want to make my presence felt. I want people to know who I am and where I'm from. I'm a highly motivated guy, I enjoy competition, I don't like to be handed things, I want to earn it. That's why I was excited about them bringing in a new kicker.
HB: Was there anything about UMass off the field that made it the place for you? Do you have any idea what you might be interested in studying?
RA: I want to go into psychology. [Also] I did really enjoy the weight room and the locker room.
HB: Are you excited for the chance to possibly be kicking against three SEC schools in 2016?
RA: Of course! The SEC is one of the top conferences, I would love to be able to compete against schools of that caliber. I always enjoy a challenge.
The Minutemen's kicking situation has been in flux for several seasons. Senior Blake Lucas has been very inconsistent over his career at UMass, missing several important kicks and losing the job on more than one occasion. Redshirt sophomore Logan Laurent, who is in line to be the Minutemen's punter this season, also handled placekicking at points in the 2014 season. Incoming freshman Michael Caggiano was given a full scholarship as part of the 2015 recruiting class but has experienced some growing pains acclimating to the college game.
The opportunity is there for Alay to see the field his freshman season, and he is very motivated to achieve that goal.
Below is a brief highlight reel of some of Alay's kicks, courtesy of Hudl.