Well, it’s been a long time since our last mailbag, but we haven’t had any questions, and it would probably be weird for me to sit here and just talk to myself.
Today’s question came via Joe, who reached out via e-mail.
If you have any questions about UMass football, the Musket or anything else, don’t hesitate to send us an e-mail at (MaroonMusket [at] gmail [dot] com).
There is a huge list of walk-ons this year. Have any of the new walk-on guys arrived on campus for practice? If they have, have any stood out and look like they could see some playing time?
Our list of guys who were on campus during spring practice is probably incomplete, but here’s what who know:
- Nate Crutchfield, QB: Montclair High School (N.J)
- Klysmann Afonso, WR: Jireh Prep (N.C.)
- Nick Valles, RB: Danvers High School (Mass)
- Hunter Burlinson, DB: St. John’s High School (Mass)/Assumption College (Mass)
- DuVaughn Beckford, DB: Nantucket High School (Mass)/Assumption College (Mass)
Regarding who stands out, we had the chance to talk to UMass coach Charley Molnar about it, and while he didn’t get into too many names, he did mention a few guys who could make an impact.
From this year’s crop of walk-0ns, Molnar has been particularly impressed with Hunter Burlinson, a transfer from Assumption College. Burlinson, who played defensive back/linebacker for Assumption, looks like another former walk-on who made an impact in 2012.
“I think he’s got the chance to be a pretty good football player,” Molnar told the Maroon Musket. “He’s cut from the same cloth as Joey Colton. He has a lot of the same attributes.”
Burlinson will have to sit out the 2013 campaign under NCAA transfer rules. Back when we initially reported on Burlinson’s decision to transfer to UMass, one of our sources called him “Joey Colton 2.0.”
While the most recent crop of walk-ons will have a chance to prove themselves in the fall, Molnar said Adam Richard and John Bieren – both 2012 walk-ons – who could crack the depth chart and help the team. Richard and Beiren, both of whom are listed as defensive linemen, redshirted last year.
“Those are two other guys who have a chance to be pretty good football players,” Molnar said. “Both of those guys have real potential to get on the field and help us this year in some capacity.”
Richard came to UMass after a solid high school career at B.C. High. He played defensive end for the Eagles and was a quality pass rusher.
Bieren has an interesting story. After getting passed over by MIT, Harvard and Carengie Mellon for academics, Bieren was offered a walk-on spot with the Minutemen. He took a red shirt season in order to put on weight and add strength. Bieren is another guy who could potentially see some time at defensive end.
As for the guys who are not-yet on campus, we think Joe Tyo (OL/DL), Shadrach Abrokwah (RB) and Dillon Tighe (WR) are three guys to keep an eye on.
Tyo has a good, solid frame that can hold some more weight and appears to have some natural athleticism, which will help in the trenches. A few of the guys who I talk to have said he is a steal for UMass. Abrokwah is a tough runner and could be a quality special teams athlete next year. Tighe is a high-quality receiver who inexplicably never picked up traction with Northeast FCS schools. With the lack of depth at receiver, he’s a guy who could step up right away – particularly in the slot, where there is no sure-fire starter.
Down the road, keep an eye on Logan Laurent, a kicker/punter from the Granite State who chose UMass over an offer from UNH. My guess is that he’s the heir to Colter Johnson‘s spot.
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