UMass Roster Breakdown: Linebackers

Photo by Maria Uminski/Daily Collegian

Photo by Maria Uminski/Daily Collegian

The Massachusetts Daily Collegian’s football coverage will offer daily positional breakdown’s of  the Massachusetts football team in the days leading up to the start of the 2014 summer training camp. Today, the focus is on the linebackers. You can find a list of previous breakdowns at the bottom of the page. 

Returnees: Trey Seals (RS JR), Jovan Santos-Knox (JR), Vondell Langston (RS SO), Kassan Messiah (JR), John Robinson-Woodgett (RS SO), Shane Huber (SO), Peter Ngobidi (SO), Michael Mckenna (RS JR), Stanley Andre (RS SR)

Newcomers: Zeke Edmonds (FR), Da’Sean Downey (FR), Andrew Ellis (RS FR), Steve Casali (RS FR), Hassan Graham (RS FR)

Key Losses: Ed Saint-Vil, Tom Brandt

Projected Starters: Trey Seals (OLB), Jovan Santos-Knox (ILB), Stanley Andre (ILB), Kassan Messiah (OLB)

The Skinny: From top to bottom, UMass’ most talented position may be the linebackers.

Even with the decision to move to a 3-4 and feature an extra linebacker on the field in base packages, finding playing time for a vast array of players will be a tricky dance for Minutemen coach Mark Whipple and defensive coordinator Tom Masella.

UMass is stout up the middle, with Stanley Andre returning for his redshirt senior season as one of the most reliable players on defense. Andre started all 12 games a season ago and racked up 111 tackles. The season before, he started every game as a defensive lineman. He’s a proven run-stopper and should thrive as an inside linebacker in the 3-4 defense as opposed to spending more time as a roving middle linebacker in a 4-3.

Jovan Santos-Knox started next to Andre in the spring game and should be a favorite to command a starting role this season. He’s a solid compliment to Andre in the sense that Santos-Knox can act as a more dynamic playmaker. He appeared in all 12 games in 2013 (four starts) and made three tackles for losses, added half a sack and an interception in addition to 33 total tackles. He’ll add an athletic dynamic as Andre acts as more of a traditional run-stopper.

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UMass Roster Breakdown: Defensive Secondary

Photo by Maria Uminski/Daily Collegian

Photo by Maria Uminski/Daily Collegian

The Massachusetts Daily Collegian’s football coverage will offer daily positional breakdown’s of  the Massachusetts football team in the days leading up to the start of the 2014 summer training camp. Today, the focus is on the defensive secondary. You can find a list of previous breakdown’s at the bottom of the page.

Returnees: Randall Jette (RS JR), Trey Dudley-Giles (JR), Joe Colton (JR), Khary Bailey-Smith (JR), D’Metrius Williams (JR), Quayshun Smith (SR), D.J Woods (SO), Duvaughn Beckford (RS JR), Jaurice Jones (JR)

Newcomers: Jesse Monteiro (RS FR), Lucas Amato (RS FR), Charan Singh (FR), Jarell Addo (FR), Michael Grasis (RS FR), Jeremy Rodriguez (FR), Jackson Porter (RS FR)

Key Losses: Devin Brown, Antoine Tharpe

Projected Starters: Randall Jette (CB), Trey Dudley-Giles (CB), Joe Colton (S), Khary Bailey-Smith (S)

The Skinny: We’ll open our roster breakdown with a positional area in serious need of depth, the defensive secondary.

All jokes aside, despite having 16 players listed as defensive backs, the secondary offers UMass both familiar faces and dependency, something other areas of the team cannot. The team returns both starting cornerbacks in Randall Jette and Trey Dudley-Giles as well as starting safety Joe Colton.

Predicting projected starters is a bit of a treacherous prospect considering the new regime has the flexibility to form new opinions and the prior regime often cycled through players in a perplexing manner. But it’d be a tremendous surprise if Jette and Dudley-Giles weren’t starting on the corners against Boston College to open the season. Jette’s started all 23 games of his college career and led the Minutemen in pass break-up’s a season ago with 12. He chipped in an interception, 45 tackles and contributed on special teams as well.

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Longtime UMass men’s soccer coach Sam Koch dies after battle with cancer

Longtime Massachusetts men’s soccer coach Sam Koch died Sunday night after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 59.

The University announced Koch’s passing on Twitter Monday morning.

Koch, the winningest coach in program history, held a record of 222-182-45 in 23 seasons at UMass. He led the Minutemen to two Atlantic 10 championships and three NCAA tournament appearances, including a 2007 trip to the College Cup. Prior to coaching at UMass, Koch headed the Stanford men’s soccer program for six seasons.

Koch’s passing comes less than one year after softball coach Elaine Sortino died last August after her own battle with cancer.

Koch is survived by his wife Suzanne and their four children, Christopher, Jeffrey, Benjamin and Katherine.

By ross gienieczko Posted in Misc.

UMass Roster Breakdown: The Coaching Staff

Photo by Cade Belisle/ Daily Collegian

Photo by Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

The Massachusetts Daily Collegian’s football coverage will offer daily positional breakdowns of  the Massachusetts football team in the days leading up to the start of the 2014 summer training camp. Today, the focus is on the coaching staff. 

Head Coach: Mark Whipple

By now, it’s no secret that Massachusetts football coach Mark Whipple has returned for an encore performance with the Minutemen.

Whipple coached UMass from 1998-2003, winning a Division I-AA championship in his first season at the helm, turning a 2-9 Minutemen team from the season prior into a dominant Division I-AA program. UMass remained competitive under Whipple, as he compiled a record of 49-25 with the Minutemen. But he eventually departed from the program, joining the Pittsburgh Steelers as an assistant coach in 2004 and working closely with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

For UMass fans, the hope is that Whipple can quickly orchestrate a similar resurgence throughout a program in desperate need of a makeover. He inherits a team which, two years into Division I football, sports a 2-22 record amid a turbulent takeoff under former coach Charley Molnar.

So how will Whipple turn it around? It may be a tenuous process, but the 57-year old is already making significant changes.

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Former UMass captain Kevin Czepiel hired as Director of Hockey Operations

Collegian file photo

Collegian file photo

A familiar face returned to the Massachusetts hockey program Thursday, as former captain Kevin Czepiel was named the new Director of Hockey Operations. Czepiel replaces former hockey operations director John Gobeil after two seasons with the program.

“I am excited to be a part of UMass hockey program again,” Czepiel, who played four years with the Minutemen, said in a statement released by the team. “I took tremendous pride in wearing the Maroon & White when I played here and hope to be part of helping UMass hockey reach new heights in the near future.”

Czepiel, 26, last played for the Minutemen in the 2012-2013 season. He served as the team’s captain and appeared in all 34 games that year.

“Kevin personifies Massachusetts hockey,” UMass coach John Micheletto said in a news release. “As a player and student here his work ethic, selflessness, attention to detail and leadership impacted our team. We are lucky to be able to add him to the staff as he will continue to positively influence our program and help propel UMass hockey to great things.”

A Holyoke native, Czepiel scored seven goals to go with 19 assists in 128 career games with the Minutemen. He graduated in 2013 and is currently working toward his master’s degree in Sport Management.

Ross Gienieczko can be reached at rgieniec@umass.edu and followed on Twitter @RossGien. 

 

 

By ross gienieczko Posted in Misc.

Incoming UMass defenseman Brandon Montour drafted by the Anaheim Ducks

 

Just weeks after a Massachusetts hockey alum made history by becoming the first UMass product to win two Stanley Cups, an incoming Minutemen product etched out his own part of UMass history.

Defenseman Brandon Montour, who will suit up for UMass as a freshman this upcoming season, was selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft (55th overall). It’s the highest any Minutemen player has ever been drafted, surpassing Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, who was drafted 72nd overall.

Montour played for Waterloo last year in his first season in the United States Hockey League. He was named USHL Player of the Year and USHL Defenseman of the year, appearing in 60 games for the Black Hawks and totaling 62 points (14 goals, 48 assists). He came within five points of setting the all-time USHL points record.

The 6-foot, 172 pound freshman is adept at moving the puck from blue line and was a consistent presence on the Black Hawks power play. He’ll join fellow UMass defenseman Ben Gallacher as members of the Minutemen whose rights currently belong to a NHL club. Gallacher was drafted in 2010 by the Florida Panthers in the fourth round.

The Minutemen may have another member drafted today as well. Forward Frank Vatrano, who played in just a single game last season due to eligibility issues, has generated interest in the NHL-level and could go in the later rounds.

Mark Chiarelli can be reached at mchiarel@UMass.edu and followed on Twitter @Mark_Chiarelli

UMass Notebook: Minutemen will face UConn, URI in 2016

Photo by Maria Uminski/Collegian

Photo by Maria Uminski/Collegian

 

UMass may be turning an eye nationally in hopes of securing a future home for football, but there’s now reason to be excited on a regional level.

According to a report from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, the Minutemen will host both Connecticut and Rhode Island at Gillette Stadium within the first month of the 2016 season. As of now, UMass is scheduled to open the year on the road against Florida. The report states the Minutemen will sandwich home games against the Huskies (Sept. 10) and the Rams (Sept. 24) around a road match up against Boston College on Sept. 17.

The meeting with UConn could be apart of a more extended series between the two teams. Previously, UMass lost to UConn 37-0 in 2012 in the Minutemen’s first game as a member of the FBS. Both UConn and URI were longtime rivals of the Minutemen when all three played at the FCS level.

It appears 2016 may become UMass’ first chance to truly secure bragging rights across all of New England.

BASKETBALL

UMass also announced today that the men’s basketball program posted the tenth-largest increase in attendance across all  Division I programs.

Home attendance increased by 1,345 for the Minutemen, marking the second year in a row UMass appeared within the top 30 programs in increased attendance. UMass averaged 6,600 fans a game in 2013-14, the highest total since 1998-99, and sold out five games. It was the eighth-highest average in program history.

BASEBALL 

UMass baseball picked up a commitment from Springfield Cathedral senior pitcher Kevin Hassett on Friday.

Hassett was the ace on a Cathedral team which captured a Western Massachusetts Division I title. He posted an 8-1 record with a 1.38 ERA in 65.1 innings  this season, while striking out 63 and earning two saves. The 6-foot-1 hurler features a fastball which has registered as high as 89 miles per hour and multiple off-speed offerings. His catcher and teammate Andrew Noonan committed to UMass in December.

Hassett originally committed to St. Michaels (Division II).

Mark Chiarelli can be reached at mchiarel@UMass.edu and followed on Twitter @Mark_Chiarelli