UMass Minutemen

UMass lines up future games against Big Ten opponents

1 Comment

UMass may never get a chance to be invited to the Big Ten, so the program will have to settle with playing non-conference games against them instead. The Minutemen have announced future games against Big Ten members Rutgers and Northwestern for the 2019 season, respectively.

UMass will play both games on the road in one-game deals. The Minutemen will travel to Rutgers on August 31, 2019. Later in the year, on November 16, UMass will travel to Northwestern. UMass and Northwestern have never met on the field in football, but the Minutemen and Scarlet Knights have a brief history. The two schools played four times between 1967 and 1978, with each school winning two games.

In other scheduling news, UMass also announced a 2018 game against FCS opponent Duquesne. UMass will host Duquesne on August 25, 2018 in college football’s Week 0, because the Dukes have a road trip to Hawaii scheduled in 2018.

UMass is entering its second season as a football independent since being removed from the MAC. UMass went just 2-10 last season but hope the experience gained by a young roster can grow in 2017. UMass was probably better than their record would indicate, although they still have a long shot to getting to bowl eligibility for the first time in program history. UMass has not had a season with more than three wins since moving up to the FBS from the FCS in 2012, and the 2017 schedule throws UMass no favors. The Minutemen play road games as defending AAC champion Temple, potential AAC favorite USF, BYU and two SEC schools (Tennessee and Mississippi State).

UMass the landing spot for Ex-Syracuse RB Jordan Fredericks

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After leaving one Northeast football program, Jordan Fredericks will continue his collegiate playing career at another.

On his social media accounts Saturday, Fredericks announced he has decided to enroll at UMass and play for the Minutemen.  The running back will have to sit out the 2017 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules.

Beginning in 2018, he’d have two seasons of eligibility to use.

As a true freshman in 2015, Fredericks led Syracuse in rushing with 607 yards. Under new head coach Dino Babers, Fredericks saw his rush attempts plummet from 107 to 28 in 2016. He ran for 139 yards in what turned out to be his last season with the Orange.

In December, Fredericks announced his decision to transfer.

UMass hires Ed Pinkham as defensive coordinator

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After floundering on defense the past three years, UMass’ change at the top on that side of the ball is official.

The football program, via a press release, announced Saturday that Mark Whipple has signed off on Ed Pinkham as his new defensive coordinator.  Pinkham replaces Tom Masella, who was ousted last month after three years on the job.

Whipple and Pinkham have a previous working relationship, serving on the same staff at New Hampshire in the late eighties.

“I’ve known Ed since we worked together at UNH,” Whipple said in a statement. “I have tremendous respect for his approach and how his defenses have always played. He brings a wealth of knowledge at the FBS level. He’s an outstanding recruiter and great leader of young men. I couldn’t be more excited about the future of our program as we head into winter conditioning and spring practice.”

Pinkham had spent the past three seasons as the coordinator at Western Michigan.  Last season, the Broncos finished 16th nationally in scoring defense at 19.5 points per game.

The Minutemen in 2016 were 108th in the same category at 35.5 points per game.  The previous two seasons, they were 93rd (31.4) and 105th (33.0).

“I’m extremely excited to be back in New England and renewing relationships with coaches I’ve worked with in the past at previous stops,” Pinkham said. “I coached against UMass so I’m aware of the strong football tradition that exists here. I’m excited to play a role in achieving the goals that we set as a staff and as a program.”

Pinkham has also served as the coordinator at Rutgers (2009-10) and as secondary coach at Minnesota (1989-91) during a coaching career that began in 1975.

FCS player granted sixth, seventh seasons, will transfer to UMass

Getty Images

For decades, stories of this nature were unheard of. The last couple of years, however, they’re popping up more and more.

Bryton Barr began his college football playing career at FCS Towson in 2012, starting 11 games as a true freshman. He started the first two games the following season, then missed the remainder of that year with a pectoral injury. A similar injury cost him the entire 2014 season, while a torn ACL kept him out for all of the 2015 season.

The linebacker was healthy for all of 2016, but his eligibility clock was set to expire even as, in his own mind, he wasn’t finished with the collegiate level. After filing an appeal with the NCAA, Barr was not only granted a sixth season of eligibility last month but a seventh one as well.

Barr has since decided to transfer to UMass for his final two years of eligibility in 2017 and 2018. And after that latter season, he still maintains some hope that his career won’t be over despite all of the injury obstacles.

“My dream is still to play in the NFL,” the player told “Even though I’ve had those injuries, I know that if I come up here and play like I can, I believe I can get a shot. I think I can get someone to, at least, let me get in camp. This wasn’t the plan, but I definitely think it’s going to work out good.”

In November of last year, Texas Tech offensive lineman Tony Morales, who missed every season from 2011-14 because of various injuries, was granted a seventh season of eligibility that he will use in 2017. After knee injuries cost him the 2010-12 seasons, Deontae Cooper earned a seventh year that he used in 2016.

Independents and Group of Five National Signing Day Recap: Irish bounce back, Memphis tops AAC

Getty Images

Outside of the Power Five conferences, recruiting went about as expected in 2017.

Notre Dame continued to pound the national trail and landed a top 12 class full of players who will be expected to play early. BYU managed another impressive group that was one of the most diverse out there. The schools with a talent-rich backyard to draw on did well in the AAC.  Boise State was once again tops in the Mountain West and did better than a few peers in the region. And yes, Lane Kiffin earned that recruiting reputation by pulling in the best class of Conference USA.

Though there wasn’t much drama outside the top schools, there nevertheless was plenty of action for many programs on National Signing Day.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 67 overall Brock Wright (TE, Notre Dame), No. 154 overall Chaz Ah You (DB, BYU), Aisa Kelemete (DE, Boise State), Nick Robinson (TE, Memphis), Nicholas Sims (RB, Toledo)

Top classes: Notre Dame (No. 11 overall), Memphis (No. 58 overall), Boise State (No. 60 overall), BYU (No. 65 overall), Florida Atlantic (No. 71 overall), Toledo (No. 74 overall), Texas State (No. 87 overall)

Biggest storyline: Irish still land solid recruiting class

Despite the worst season in South Bend since Charlie Weis and a nearly brand new coaching staff, Notre Dame still managed to cobble together a top 12 class on Signing Day. Tight end Brock Wright was the highest rated player and should see early playing time but the number of quality offensive linemen was really evident in the group Brian Kelly signed. Will it be enough to help with a big turnaround? We’ll see.

Biggest surprise: Memphis runs away with things in the AAC but new coaches still fared well

Given all the turnover in the American this year, it should probably come as no surprise that the Tigers pulled the top recruiting class in the conference. That’s a testament to what Mike Norvell is building with the program and the fact that they don’t have to go far for players. Many of the same factors played a role in Scott Frost landing the second-best class at UCF. It was also pretty impressive what Luke Fickell did on the recruiting trail at Cincinnati and Charlie Strong did at USF given those two didn’t have a ton of time to get things lined up.

Don’t sleep on: Boise State, Colorado State

The Broncos were once again the class of the Mountain West on the recruiting trail and fended off several Pac-12 schools for prospects. That will put them firmly in the mix to win the league again in 2017 but don’t overlook another good job by Mike Bobo and staff at Colorado State in landing 17 three-star players.

We’ll see about: Everybody else