I have heard concerns from a number of readers about the amount of recruiting going on down in Florida right now. UMass fans want to keep Coach Molnar to his word about staying true to Northeast athletes and hitting Florida when need be.
I just want to clear up exactly what is and what isn’t happening.
In Florida, nearly every county has a recruiting service that puts out information. With this abundance of information comes an abundance of coverage about Florida athletes. New England does not have this same breadth of information, and aside from the good people at ESPN Boston, no one keeps tabs on local recruits until schools like Notre Dame come to town.
With that being said, we only work with the information we see. Big County Preps, Rivals, Scout, 247 Sports and a number of other sources consistently put out information on Florida recruits, and when UMass is mentioned, we give that info to you. The same goes for the many services that report on recruiting in other talent-rich states that the Minutemen have historically hit, like Pennsylvania (see below) and New Jersey.
It is clear that UMass is spreading its recruiting footprint down the East Coast, and that is to be expected with any Northeast program that is attempting to be competitive at the FBS level. Rutgers, Syracuse, Boston College and UConn all take the same approach.
Also, the Minutemen are playing catchup in a big way. A few years ago, when Kevin Morris was initially promoted, it was clear that UMass scaled back its recruiting budget, which led to more local talent and a shrinking Eastern footprint. Then, out of the blue, the program was hit with a bolt of improbable and decided to move up to FBS with a roster full of athletes borne from the scale-it-back recruiting mantra.
UMass has more scholarships to fill and needs to significantly increase the level of talent on its roster. It is doing so by essentially re-opening and flooding old recruiting pipelines and then venturing out to new territories – namely the Rust Belt and Canada – to find new athletes.
In the meantime, the program is reaching out to fifth-year transfers to fill in much-needed roles on a team that was: 1) decimated by graduation, 2) poorly coached, and 3) under recruited.
The rebuilding process will require UMass to get clever: It has to sell itself as an up-and-coming program, hit geographical areas that have never seen a UMass helmet and venture South to make early pitches to athletes that will eventually have schools like Florida, Florida State and Miami knocking at their door.
This is not Coach Molnar going back on his word, it is the reality of Division I recruiting.
Also, Molnar and his staff have gone after every major recruit in the New England area, but for the most part, they showed up late to the game. Schools like Notre Dame, Boston College and Penn State had early leads to go along with their much-deeper football traditions. These major players were making their first pitches while Molnar was still walking the sidelines in South Bend.
However, in the midst of all this, UMass was able to sign a three-star quarterback from Connecticut, who was drawing interest from a few of our future rivals.
Fans of UMass should care a little less about the reported geography of the Minutemen’s recruiting scheme. That information is scattered and will always point to areas with the most high school coverage.
Minutemen fans should pay attention to the strategy at large.
That’s the fun part.
The Minutemen have extended an offer to Dubois Ross, a wide receiver from Pennsylvania.
The news comes via FOX’s Bob Lichtenfels:
According to Scout, UMass is joined by Holy Cross, Monmouth and Yale. For those who get nervous when they see UMass among FCS schools, fret not, Rivals also has Buffalo extending an offer.
Ross is 5’11 and 175 pounds and is a two-star recruit. He also comes from a high school with an outrageously intimidating name: Pius X. I’m pretty sure that’s a type of wrestling finishing maneuver.
Check out his highlights here.