UMass Minutemen

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 28:  A detail from the red carpet prior to the start of the 2016 NFL Draft on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images)
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Nearly 30 percent of early entrants went undrafted

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North of 100 college football players decided earlier this year, in some form or fashion, to forego their remaining collegiate eligibility for an early shot at the NFL.  In the end, roughly seven out of every 10 of those players felt a draft.

In mid-January, the NFL announced that 96 players “have been granted special eligibility for the 2016 NFL Draft.”  Another 11 players with eligibility remaining “have in timely fashion under NFL rules officially notified the league office that they have fulfilled their degree requirements” and were eligible for the draft as well.

Add it up, there were 107 players who left collegiate eligibility on the table.  And, in the end, exactly 30 of those players were left without a seat once the draft music had stopped.

Below is the list of players who will hope to gain a foothold on an NFL club as an undrafted free agent:

Bralon Addison, WR, Oregon
Dominique Alexander, LB, Oklahoma
Travis Blanks, LB, Clemson
Peyton Barber, RB, Auburn
Dariusz Bladek, OG, Bethune-Cookman
Beniquez Brown, LB, Mississippi State
Trenton Coles, DB, Duquesne
Elijah Daniel, DT, Murray State
Terrell Davis, LB, British Columbia
Eric Enderson, P, Delaware
David Grinnage, TE, North Carolina State
Cayleb Jones, WR, Arizona
Denver Kirkland, OT, Arkansas
Darius Latham, DL, Indiana
Roger Lewis, WR, Bowling Green
Steve Longa, LB, Rutgers
Jalin Marshall, WR, Ohio State
Brett McMakin, LB, Northern Iowa
Marquez North, WR, Tennessee
Joe Powell, DB, Globe
Tyvis Powell, S, Ohio State
Alex Redmond, OL, UCLA
Aldrick Rosas, K, Southern Oregon
Tyrell Smith, OT, Massachusetts
Ron Thompson, DE, Syracuse
Corey Tindal, DB, Marshall
Quinn van Gylswyk, K, British Columbia
Cleveland Wallace III, CB, San Jose State
De’Runnya Wilson, WR, Mississippi State
Avery Young, OL, Auburn

UMass chancellor scoffs at talk of disbanding football

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This month we’ve already seen Eastern Michigan emphatically push back against faculty-fueled talk of moving the football program down to the FCS level or disbanding it completely.  Now it’s a former MAC member doing some pushing of its own on a similar effort.

Thursday, the faculty senate at UMass urged officials at the university to vote on a resolution “to end Division I football (Football Bowl Subdivision) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and either move to a different division or discontinue NCAA football altogether.”  That blast served as the latest salvo in a nearly four-year effort by the senate to rid itself and its university of the sport.

As has been the case in previous efforts, they appear to have failed miserably as the motion was defeated by a 2-1 margin.  Saying “[t]his is now the third time in my four years that they have brought up a motion and have not succeeded,” chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy went on to praise the direction of a program that is now a football independent after leaving the MAC following the 2015 season.

I think the program is in good shape and (headed) in the right direction,” he said. “This was simply a small group of senators who have been carrying on this agenda for some time. And they’re not getting the support they need. …

“I can’t control what the Faculty Senate does. It’s a waste of this important body’s time, in my opinion, to keep bringing up this issue. We have lots of issues on the curriculum and we have lots of issues on our future planning and so forth. So I think the academic senate’s time should be more wisely spent than debating something over and over again.”

Like their former conference counterparts at EMU, UMass has struggled mightily of late.  Since becoming full-fledged members of the FBS in 2012, the Minutemen have posted just eight wins versus 40 losses.

Despite those struggles, “we have strong support from the alumni base and our own student body,” Subbaswamy said, “which we’re going to build even more once we start playing even more games on campus.”

UMass faculty to push for dropping out of FBS

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 13:  Head coach Mark Whipple of the University of Massachusetts Minutemen speaks to an official during a game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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It hasn’t been a good week for the lower rungs of FBS. Just a day ago Eastern Michigan warded off rumors the school would drop to Division II, and earlier today word broke Idaho will leave FBS for FCS. Now UMass will have to join the inauspicious group, as the university’s faculty senate will push to leave FBS or drop football altogether.

As with the Eagles and the Vandals, it’s not as if the naysayers don’t have a point. The Minutemen are just 8-40 since leaving the Colonial Athletic Association for the Mid-American Conference, and the MAC has since left them. UMass is now without a permanent home either in conference structure or in stadium, bouncing between an on-campus facility and the New England Patriots’ cavernous and distant Gillette Stadium.

In a regularly scheduled session, the faculty senate will on Thursday “urge Chancellor Subbaswamy, President Meehan, and the Board of Trustees of the University to end Division I football (Football Bowl Subdivision) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and either move to a different division or discontinue NCAA football altogether.” As noted by MassLive.com, this is just the latest in a three-and-a-half year effort to question the university’s alliance with big-time college football.

Will anything result of this latest push? Probably not, except a hastily written open letter to reaffirm UMass’s commitment to FBS.

But one thing is clear: as football gets more expensive, the political capital of losing games grows as well.

Long-time UConn assistant one of two hired to complete UMass staff

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 13:  Head coach Mark Whipple of the University of Massachusetts Minutemen speaks to an official during a game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium on September 13, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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With a week’s worth of spring practices already in the books, Mark Whipple was finally able to complete his UMass coaching staff yet again.

Mike Foley and Jason Palermo, the school announced Monday, have been hired as offensive line and tight ends coaches, respectively.  With the twin hirings, Mark Whipple, who said he’s known each new assistant “a long time,” has put the finishing touches on the restructuring of his Minuteman staff.

“Coach Foley brings many years of experience, especially with the offensive line,” the head coach said. “He’s a Massachusetts guy with an impeccable record as a coach and a recruiter.

“I’ve known Jason Palermo since we were recruiting him to the University of Massachusetts in 2002. I’ve followed his career – he was a great player at Wisconsin and an academic honoree. He’s a good, solid, young coach who’ll bring a lot of energy.”

Foley spent nine seasons (2006-14) as the offensive line and tight ends coach at UConn. Palermo, who played his college football at Wisconsin, was the line coach at FCS Austin Peay the past four seasons. This will be his first on-field job at the FBS level.

Hawaii, UMass add former players to coaching staffs

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Earlier in the day we noted that a former North Carolina football player had gone back to his alma mater to continue his coaching career.  As it turns out, both Hawaii and UMass have seen former players return home as well.

Hawaii late this past week announced that new head coach Nick Rolovich has added Craig Stutzmann as his passing-game coordinator.  Rolovich and Stutzmann were teammates with the Rainbow Warriors 15 or so years ago.

The past two seasons, Stutzmann, who left UH as the school’s fifth all-time leading receiver, spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Virginia’s Emory & Henry College.  This will mark Stutzmann’s first on-field role at an FBS program.

“Another Warrior returns to the ‘āina, a man who has succeeded as a student-athlete and person in this program,” Rolovich said. “Stutz understands our culture, has lived aloha and played warrior. Since leaving our shores in 2009, he has acquired a wealth of knowledge in various offensive schemes and has paid his dues in the coaching world. I am convinced there’s no place he’d rather be than Pride Rock.”

Meanwhile, out in Amherst, Mass., UMass confirmed that a former football Minutemen, Matt Dawson, will serve as Mark Whipple‘s tight ends coach.  The former UMass linebacker will also assist with special teams.

The past two seasons, Dawson served as linebackers coach at Rhode Island.  Like Stutzmann, this will be Dawson’s first on-field job at the FBS level.

“Matt Dawson is Massachusetts alum who truly embodies everything our university and program are about,” the Minutemen’s head coach said in his statement. “I’m excited to have him. He brings great knowledge and expertise.”

In another tweak of his staff, Whipple announced that graduate assistant Scott Woodward has been promoted to quarterbacks coach. Woodward replaces Liam Coen, who left to become the offensive coordinator at Maine.

Interestingly, Woodward was Coen’s backup at quarterback when the they played for the Minutemen a decade ago.