After months of phone calls, visits, and pounds and pounds of mail, it’s officially Signing Day.
Charley Molnar and staff are putting the finishing touches on their first “full” recruiting class. While the staff was able to ink a number of quality athletes last year, they had limited time to make things happen after the university relieved former head man Kevin Morris of his duties.
This year, the Minutemen will likely have less than 25 scholarship athletes sign on Feb. 6. Sources have told the Maroon Musket that the staff is working on securing a couple of transfers to round out the yearly scholarship allotment. UMass fans should expect a graduate student transfer or two in the coming months.
With that being said, there are a few question marks out there. Perhaps most importantly is the decision of Lorenzo Woodley III, a high-caliber running back from Miami who is reportedly leaning toward UMass. Woodley was on campus last weekend and has shown a great deal of interest in the school. UMass fans have reciprocated on Twitter.
The three-star running back has offers from across the country, according to 247 Sports. If he signs with UMass, it’s arguable that he would be the top signing in the Mid-America Conference.
Below is who should be either signing or walking on. Follow us on Twitter for up-to-the-minute coverage of Signing Day 2013.
Todd Stafford, QB: Greenwich HS (Conn): The first verbal commitment of the 2013 class. Stafford is an enormous pro style quarterback at 6’6 and nearly 250 pounds. From all accounts, Stafford has an incredibly strong arm, but may be a bit of a project. He also received early interest from Boston College, Duke and Miami, but UMass was his only offer. Back when he verballed, he told ESPN Boston that, “If they had remained at the I-AA level (FCS) the appeal would have still been there. It just seemed like the right place for me.”
Nate Crutchfield, QB: Montclair High School (N.J) - preferred walk-on: Considered to be a steal for the program as a preferred walk-on. Crutchfield is already on campus and graduated from high school a semester early. Co-captain at Montclair High School (with UMass signee Sam Zeff) in 2012 and helped guide Montclair to a 12-0 season and a state championship. He threw for 1,300 yards and 18 touchdowns in his final season.
Steve Casali, LB/RB: Sachem East HS (N.Y.): Considered the best football player in Long Island’s Suffolk County, winning the Hansen Award. Considered by many to be a highly underrated recruit. Has a throwback, aggressive running style that may translate well at the next level. If he pans out the way some recruiting experts suggest, Casali could be a huge get for UMass.
Peter Ngobidi, LB/DE: Catholic Memorial High School (Mass): Local product who can play either linebacker or defensive end at the next level. He was named a First Team All-State performer by ESPN Boston. He has done well against Massachusetts high school talent – it will be interesting to see where the staff uses him in the coming years.
Shane Huber, LB: St. Peter’s Prep (N.J.): Three-star linebacker that went back-and-forth with his UMass commitment. On the heels of an unflattering New York Times article regarding the UMass football program, Huber re-opened his recruitment. After Kumble R. Subbaswamy responded to the article, Huber recommitted and has been a vocal supporter of the program. Should be a great addition to the program. Will add immediate depth to a young linebacker unit.
Linemen (Offensive and/or Defensive)
Richard Queen, OL: Bergen Catholic HC (N.J.): Big offensive lineman from New Jersey who was one of the first to commit to UMass. He was fielding interest from Rutgers, but has maintained his commitment to the Minutemen since late June.
Sam Zeff, OL: Montclair High School (N.J.): Another big offensive lineman who is already on campus after graduating from high school a semester early. He committed to UMass soon after Queen gave his verbal. Zeff was highly sought after in high school and reportedly held offers from UConn, Rutgers and Temple.
Jordan Page, OL: The Pennington School(N.J): Page was the third offensive lineman to commit to the Minutemen. Page is a two-star athlete and also reportedly held an offer from Temple.
Terrel Correia, TE/OL: Nantucket High School(Mass): A really intriguing prospect that may need a few years to develop. Correia is a local product, and like Ngobidi, he was an All-State selection. He is 6’7 and 270 pounds and had 26 catches for 372 yards last year. However, it is pretty clear that UMass plans to convert him to a full-time offensive lineman.
Tyshon Henderson, OL: St. George’s School (R.I.): Henderson was one of the best college football players in Rhode Island and has the size (6’7, 320 pounds) to compete for a spot early. He will likely play offensive tackle for the Minutemen.
Enock Asante, OL/DT: Steinert High School (N.J): Played guard and defensive tackle in high school, and so far it’s unclear what UMass has in store for him. Asante was being pursued by Old Dominion before choosing UMass.
Josh Bruns, OL: Glendale Community College (Ariz): As a JUCO commit, Bruns has already signed his letter of intent with UMass. Bruns is the first JUCO commit for the 2013 class, and the only JUCO player Charley Molnar and staff have accepted a commitment from aside from punter Colter Johnson.
Elijah Wilkinson, OL/DL: Downingtown West High School (Pa.): A two-star lineman that will likely play defensive line for UMass. Wilkinson also held offers from James Madison and Delaware State. The 6’4, 300-pound athlete is considered a two-star recruit and committed to UMass last month.
Sharif Custis, TE: St John Neumann (Pa): Custis also played some defensive end in high school but is likely a tight end at the next level. He committed during his visit to UMass in early December. Custis also held offers from Temple and Stony Brook.
Peter Angeh, DE: Bullis School (Md.): Angeh committed to UMass after making a chart pitting the school against Ohio. The two-star defensive end had offers from a number of schools, including Cincinnati, Coastal Carolina, Colgate, Fordham, Holy Cross, James Madison, Lehigh, Richmond, Temple and Western Michigan.
Garrett FitzGerald, OL: Catholic Memorial High School (Mass.)/Saint Anslem College (N.H.) - preferred walk-on: Fitzgerald graduated from Catholic Memorial High School in 2010 and back then committed to Division II Saint Anslem College. The 6’4, 325-pound athlete was on the Seahawks’ 2010 fall roster and played offensive guard.
Joe Tyo, OL/DL: Dennis-Yarmouth High School (Mass) - preferred walk-on: A speedy lineman that may need time to develop. Was considered a player to watch by ESPN Boston‘s Brendan Hall.
Michael Dowe, Jr., DL: Cromwell High School (Conn)/Western New England University - walk-on: Dowe, who stands at 6’2 and 255 pounds, saw limited playing time for Western New England University this past year. Will most likely sit out a year.
D.J. Woods, WR: University School (Fla.): According to Rivals, UMass beat out some pretty stiff competition for Woods. The 5’10, 160-pound receiver also had offers from Kentucky, Toledo, Indiana and Tulane. He is listed as a two-star recruit by both Rivals and Scout.
Shaquille Harris, WR: Palmetto High School (Fla.): Harris is a speedy wide receiver from the Sunshine State who committed to UMass over Temple, Toledo, Western Kentucky and Western Michigan, according to Rivals. Marshall also extended an offer, according to Scout. He was an Honorable Mention All-State selection.
E.J. Burston, WR: Palmetto High School (Fla.): A teammate of Harris, Burston committed to UMass a little later. After rumors came up that he was considering Florida International, Burston turned around and told the Maroon Musket that he was 100 percent committed to UMass.
Klysmann Afonso, WR: Jireh Prep (N.C.) – preferred walk-on: Local product who is already on campus and working out with the team. Did a post-graduate year at Jireh Prep in North Carolina. Has played wide receiver, running back and kick returner.
Dillon Tighe, WR: Arundel High School (Md.) - preferred walk-on: A wide receiver from Maryland who told the Maroon Musket that he committed to UMass as a preferred walk-on. The 6’0, 190-pound receiver was drawing interest from a number of FCS programs.
Daquan Mack, HB/FB: Pennsbury High School (Pa.): A powerful running back from Pennsylvania who can take and deliver big hits. Mack is a two-star recruit and has flown under the radar for the most part. He will likely play a major role in UMass’ running game as a change-of-pace back.
Nick Valles, RB: Danvers High School (Mass) - walk-on: Currently on campus after graduating from high school in 2012. While at Danvers High School, he ran for 1,012 yards and hauled in 300 yards receiving as a senior
Jackson Porter, DB: Mt. Hebron High School (Md.): A high-level athlete who played running back and cornerback as a senior at Mt. Hebron. Porter has drawn some interest from Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland and UConn. Aside from his offer to play at UMass, which came in early November, he has also reportedly received an offer from Elon.
Arthur Williams, S: Sebring High School (Fla.): Florida safety that UMass has been pursuing for months. Williams should make an immediate impact in a secondary that is already stacked with young talent. Williams is a two-star athlete and had offers from all over, including Buffalo, Florida International and Western Kentucky.
DuVaughn Beckford, DB: Nantucket High School (Mass)/Assumption College (Mass) - walk-on: Local athlete who played two seasons at Assumption College before transferring to UMass. Will have to sit out a year but is already on campus. At Nantucket High School, was an all-star in football and basketball.
Logan Laurent, K/P: Exeter High School (N.H.) - preferred walk-on: Solid kicker who chose preferred walk-on spot at UMass over a full ride to UNH. The 6’3 and 210-pound kicker told SeacoastOnline that kicking is his strength. According the the article, Laurent “attempt[s] kicks in the mid-to-high 40s with plenty of leg and accuracy.” Roger Brown, a reporter with the New Hampshire Union Leader, tweeted that Laurent was recruited “primarily as a punter.”
Markus Colin, K: Allentown High School (N.J.) - walk-on: Kohl’s Professional Camps has Colin as a four-star kicker.
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