A.J. Doyle and Blake Frohnapfel begin competition to be UMass’ starting QB

Last modified: Saturday, December 06, 2014
Returning starter A.J. Doyle and newcomer Blake Frohnapfel were inconsistent as they began their quest to be UMass’ starting quarterback Monday, but both did enough to please coach Mark Whipple.

“Both guys were really good today,” said Whipple, who expected to name a starter early in camp. “They both did some things. We just let them compete.”

Sophomore Penn State transfer Austin Whipple, the coach’s youngest son, and walk-on Andrew Verboys also saw time under center. True freshman QB Ross Comis didn’t throw the ball Monday, but is expected to throw on Tuesday as the coaching staff rotates the quarterbacks who are lower on the depth chart.

Frohnapfel, a junior transfer from Marshall, said he wasn’t at his best and that he is balancing being a newcomer with the inherent leadership required of a quarterback.

“The first day was a little rusty. I have to work out a few things here and there, but it was fun to be out there,” the Virginia native said. “I’m coming in trying not to step on anybody’s toes, but still assert myself as a leader so they understand that I want to win and I want a chance to play. I’m not an overly vocal guy. I can be, but you’re judged on how you play and if you play well, guys will respect you. I have time to prove myself as a player. When that time comes I can start being vocal and saying things that need to be said to guys.”

Doyle, who is still learning Whipple’s pro-set after playing the past two years in Charley Molnar’s spread offense, was enjoying the process.

“It was a lot of fun being out here. It was fun being out with the coaches, competing,” he said. “It’s a brand new offense. I’m still learning. I’m taking it day by day and having fun with it. It’s a lot easier as an offense. I think it fits our personnel with the guys we have here. Coach said he’s going to make his decision (on who is starting) about a week and a half in. It’s our job to go out each day and compete every day and be leaders. We’re both older quarterbacks with experience. Coach is going to put the best player in. Hopefully that’s me.”

UMass opens its season Aug. 30 vs. Boston College at Gillette Stadium.

STAFFORD AT TIGHT END — Unlikely to have a chance to compete for the starting job at quarterback, redshirt freshman Todd Stafford has moved to tight end. The 6-foot-7, 250-pound Riverside, Connecticut, native has the natural build for the position and appears to be adapting well to it. He made a nice catch on a long pass at the right sideline earning cheers from his teammates.

“We thought he’s young enough and he’s big and can do some things. We thought it would be a good spot for him,” Whipple said. “I like seeing him smile now, not that he wasn’t in the spring, but not as much as he is now. He made a nice catch today.”

He joins a group that features newcomers Jon Denton, Jean Sifrin and junior Brandon Howard.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage