Friday, February 07, 2014

Signing Day 2014 -- How UMass did

When Signing Day 2014 rolled around for UMass there were several intangibles in play.

The Minutemen had struggled mightily in their first two years in FBS. For the second time in three years a new coaching staff was trying to reach recruits with only a few weeks of recruiting time.

UMass has a couple of unique circumstances going on. One was the turnover in players that occurred during the two years of Coach Molnar's era. During the UMass-Central Michigan game the announcers said the Minutemen only had about 50 scholarships in FCS (and that will get you a .500 record in the CAA) and after the turnover in players in 2013, UMass went into last year with about 40 scholarships. In FBS that will get you a 1-11 season.

In addition, one of the weakest positions on the UMass squad was quarterback. A.J. Doyle and Mike Wegzyn struggled both years. Against Central Michigan both Minutemen QB's threw INT's for touchdowns. We were next to last in FBS in scoring.

We'll never know exactly what prompted the UMass administration to replace Molnar, but in late November he told the Gazette that he was "not actively looking for a QB transfer or JUCO". Vautour probably couldn't believer what he was hearing. The hair on the heads of the Athletics Dept brass likely stood straight up. Only about three weeks later Molnar said he would bring in quarterbacks.

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For 2014, UMass needed to recruit some players to jump start the offense. Whipple also need not to lose the majority of players that had already committed to UMass.

To me, it looks like Whipple and his staff did just that. QB transfer Blake Frohnapfel, three JUCO offensive linemen, a three-star JUCO TE and a WR transfer from Penn State all filled specific needs. Twelve of the 24 recruits were from Molnar's watch so there was continuity between the recruiting efforts. The 12 players signed late in the recruiting period included the second ranked recruit Jean Sifrin.

247 Sports rates UMass 8th in MAC recruiting including the biggest signing day jump in position. They have the Minutemen as 115th nationally.

Bryon Vance of Hustle Belt also ranks UMass as 8th.

Rivals has UMass 10th in the MAC and  116th nationally.

Scout.com has UMass ranked last in the MAC and 117th nationally.

Vance critiques the rating services rankings of MAC recruits. He notes that Scout has some errors in the Minutemen's ranking.

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My feeling is the 17 high school seniors were about in the middle of the MAC for rating purposes. However, with the transfers, UMass really address some needs. The net result will be better for us than the raw numbers show.

It was a good start to the Whipple era.

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