The Massachusetts Minutemen put together what is easily the best class in their school history in the 2016 recruiting cycle. They targeted players from not only the Northeast but the entire East Coast, the Midwest, and the powerhouse states of the South. They signed versatile athletes and bruising linemen. They filled a lot of gaps on the roster and did so all while facing the challenge of an independent future.
Let's take a look at the newest Minutemen:
|Position||Name||Hometown (HS)||Height/Weight||247Sports Rating||Highlights|
|S||Antione Webster||Hialeah, FL (American)||6'0" 185||3-star||YES|
|LB||Taylor Riggins||Webster, NY (Aquinas Institute)||6'2" 213||3-star||YES|
|TE||Taylor Edwards||Wilmington, DE (Alexis I duPont)||6'4" 228||2-star||YES|
|CB||Isaiah Rodgers||Tampa, FL (Blake)||5'11" 160||2-star||YES|
|DE||Charly Timite||Philadelphia, PA (Simon Gratz)||6'3" 250||3-star||YES|
|TE||Cody Banks||Henrico, VA (Douglas S Freeman)||6'7" 250||3-star||YES|
|WR||Brennon Dingle||Whitemarsh, MD (Perry Hall)||5'10" 170||3-star||YES|
|S||Cycoby Burch||Orlando, FL (Oak Ridge)||6'1" 190||3-star||YES|
|S||Patrick Volcy||Naples, FL (Golden Gate)||6'3" 190||2-star||YES|
|WR||Infinite Tucker||Huntington, NY (Huntington)||6'5" 198||2-star||YES|
|DL||Sharif Saleem||Euclid, OH (Euclid)||6'7" 250||2-star||YES|
|OL||RaQuan Thomas||Philadelphia, PA (Simon Gratz)||6'4" 345||2-star||YES|
|CB||Martin Mangram||Buford, GA (Buford)||5'11" 180||3-star||YES|
|RB||Tyler Thompson||Wanamassa, NJ (Ocean Township)||5'11" 180||3-star||YES|
|DL||Leyshawn Askew||Wayne, NJ (Wayne Hills)||6'6" 285||3-star||YES|
|RB||Peytton Pickett||Arlington, TX (Sam Houston)||5'8" 183||2-star||YES|
|QB||Andrew Ford*||Camp Hill, PA (Cedar Cliff HS + Lackawanna CC)||6'3" 211||3-star||YES|
|RB||Bilal Ally||Middleburg, FL (Clay)||5'10" 185||3-star||YES|
|CB||Bakhari Goodson||Orlando, FL (Wekiva)||6'0" 170||2-star||YES|
|ATH||Larnel Coleman^||Malden, MA (St. Clement)||6'7" 249||Unrated||YES|
|ATH||Tyshaun Ingram||Winter Park, FL (Winter Park||6'0" 185||2-star||YES|
|TE||Avien Peah||Providence, RI (La Salle Academy)||6'3" 230||3-star||YES|
|DL||TJ Rayam||Alabaster, AL (Thompson)||6'1" 290||2-star||YES|
|WR||Sadiq Palmer||Tinton Falls, NJ (Red Bank Regional)||6'3" 185||3-star||YES|
|DE||Ali Ali-Musa*#||Annandale, VA (Annandale HS + Nassau CC)||6'3" 270||3-star||YES|
|S||Patrick Amara Jr.#@||Philadelphia, PA (West Catholic + Univ of Pittsburgh||6'2" 195||3-star||YES|
|LB||James Bowe Jr.#$||Miami, FL (Killian)||6'2" 200||2-star||YES|
|LB||Leon Flanagan Jr.#||Staten Island, NY (Curtis)||6'3" 195||2-star||YES|
|OL||James Reilly#||Norwell, MA (Norwell HS + Fork Union Military Academy)||6'4" 285||3-star||YES|
|S||Teddy Lowery#||Austin, TX (Akins HS + Tyler JC)||6'0" 225||2-star||YES|
*-Denotes JUCO player
^-Denotes 2016 gray shirt
#-Denotes early enrolee
$-Denotes 2015 gray shirt
This is a large class for UMass, the Minutemen finally being able to utilize the 25 scholarship limit for a single season. They also had a handful of early enrollees that will count towards previous scholarship totals bringing the class to 30 players.
Impact Players: Offense
Andrew Ford - QB - Ford joins the Minutemen from Lackawanna CC in Pennsylvania with three years of eligibility remaining. He signed with Virginia Tech out of high school as a 3/4-star recruit and redshirted his only season in Blacksburg. He transferred to Lackawanna, graduated in December, and will come in and immediately challenge for the starting role against the player most thought was the incumbent, Ross Comis. The QB competition in Amherst should be fierce for 2016.
Brennon Dingle - WR - Dingle is an explosive athlete that has outstanding speed and quickness that will allow him to challenge right away to start for the Minutemen Week 1 in The Swamp against Florida. While he is not the biggest WR he is tough, gritty, and will go anywhere he needs to to make a catch and a play for his team. Once the ball is in his hands, watch out.
Taylor Edwards - TE - Edwards was one of the longest-tenured commitments for UMass in this cycle, the big TE from Delaware pledging in the summer and never wavering despite the bevy of offers that came his way, including those from some big name programs. While he suffered an injury at the start of his senior year, given UMass' need at his position, he could challenge right away for playing time in the Minutemen offense.
Impact Players: Defense
Cycoby Burch - S - Burch is a former Wisconsin commit who comes from a powerhouse high school in Orlando, FL Oak Ridge. He's aggressive, physical, good in coverage and makes plays on the ball extremely well. He is one of the most highly-rated recruits ever to sign for UMass and he has the look of a safety that could be on the field Week 1 for the Minutemen.
Martin Mangram - CB - Mangram is another top-notch athlete from a powerhouse high school in Buford, GA Buford. He's got great speed and athleticism and is already excellent in coverage. He was a two-way star in high school but was recruited to UMass as a corner, which is the same position as his brother Brandon plays for the Minutemen. The appeal of playing with his brother at the next level was a big pull for Mangram, and he could absolutely be starting for the Minutemen as soon as Week 1 next year.
Ali Ali-Musa - DE - Ali-Musa comes to UMass from Nassau CC on Long Island, two institutions that have a long history together when it comes to football players. Ali-Musa has at least two years of eligibility remaining and is already enrolled at UMass after graduating from Nassau in December. He'll be given every chance to make a difference right away as the UMass pass rush has been anemic over the past several seasons. Ali-Musa specializes in getting to the QB and that will be very welcome on a revamped UMass defensive line.
This class is without a doubt the most talented group ever to sign with the University of Massachusetts. UMass has come in (right now) at #80 overall in the 247Sports Team Rankings for this season, a huge accomplishment for the program. Were UMass remaining in the MAC, this year's class would be 2nd only to Western Michigan (#66), and well ahead of the next closest team, the Miami RedHawks (#94).
Given UMass' new status as an independent, and the tough results over the first four years of the move to FBS, they needed to get a win on National Signing Day this year, and they did just that. They've brought in numerous athletes that can not only help right away but will help the program continue to grow for years to come. It was a hugely successful day in Amherst today, and hopefully it is the first of many more for UMass Football
I personally want to thank everyone who has read the UMass content produced by Hustle Belt over the past four years. Myself and the other writers who have covered the Minutemen here are grateful to have had the opportunity to work with some great people and we'll miss them as we move on to the next chapter for UMass as an independent football program. Going forward you can find UMass content on SB Nation over on our sister site Underdog Dynasty. Thanks for the last four years #MACtion, we'll catch you on the flip side.