UMass football juggling recruiting and FIU prep

  • UMass head coach Mark Whipple will be busy not only preparing for his team’s season-finale at Florida International this weekend, but also recruiting in the Sunshine State. AP FILE Photo

For The Recorder
Wednesday, November 29, 2017

AMHERST — As the UMass football team prepares to try to end the 2017 season on a high note, the coaching staff is trying to shore up players for the future.

The hurricane-prompted midseason schedule change has the Minutemen finishing their regular season a week after almost everyone else in the FBS, except for teams playing in conference championship games.

Had the season ended after BYU as originally scheduled on Nov. 18, the UMass staff would have spent this week on the road recruiting as the contact period (in-person interaction with prospective recruits) began Sunday and runs through Dec. 16, which is just four days before the sport’s first-ever early signing period — Dec. 20-22.

However, playing the final game in football-fertile Florida is an advantage. The Minuteman players head to FIU Thursday afternoon, but the coaches will leave Thursday morning to be able to recruit some players during the day.

Some Floridian prospects will likely attend UMass practice in the Miami area on Thursday or Friday.

“It’s a huge advantage as we have a little bit of a base down there,” said UMass recruiting coordinator Charles Walker. “Biggest recruiting tool is winning football games. Having a good showing down there Saturday would help big time.”

With some prospects still playing, coaches will be able to attend some games Friday night. After UMass’ noon game Saturday, some coaches will stay in Florida to recruit, while most will be on the road somewhere until the end of the contact period.

Walker said the new early-signing period is good for the Minutemen.

“You might be able to get a kid earlier and shore up the process,” he said. “It helps us unmuddy the waters. Everyone can sign. If you’re serious about UMass you’ll sign early. It evens up the playing field for all schools. I feel like it’s a better deal.”

Walker wasn’t sure what percentage of players UMass targets or otherwise, would utilize the early period.

“It’s hard to tell. Some kids are still playing in the playoffs. Some kids might have a dream school they hope will come knocking at their door,” he said. “We’re excited about it. We’re in good shape recruiting. We just trust our own process to be honest. We don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. We recruit our kids that are a fit for UMass. We’ll see how this first early singing period goes.”

UMass coach Mark Whipple liked the idea of an early period.

“So far it’s been good,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

According to 247Sports.com, UMass has commitments from 11 players already.

Spring signing day is Feb. 7.

NOTES — UMass vs. FIU was a late addition to the CUSA TV streaming service. It’s $6.95 for a day pass. Football will stay on WEEI (105.5 FM) Saturday, while men’s basketball, which starts at 2 p.m., moved to WHMP (96.9 FM, 1400 AM).

Tight end Adam Breneman, defensive end Da’Sean Downey and punter/kicker Logan Laurent were all named to the All-New England team.