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East Longmeadow’s Brice McAllister should contribute immediately in UMass defensive backfield

  • Former UConn defensive back Brice McAllister is excpected to be a contributor right away at safety for UMass. Stephen Slade-UCONN

  • Former UConn defensive back Brice McAllister is excpected to be a contributor right away at safety for UMass. Stephen Slade—-UCONN

  • BRICE MCALLISTER



@MattVautourDHG
Tuesday, April 10, 2018

AMHERST — Brice McAllister had been keeping track of UMass football from not that far away.

Despite playing at UConn, the defensive back from East Longmeadow always paid some attention to the Minutemen. With his former Suffield Academy teammate Mike Yerardi becoming a regular contributor on UMass’ offensive line, McAllister took greater notice.

So after four years in Storrs, Connecticut, when he began looking for a place to go as a graduate transfer, McAllister didn’t have to look far.

“It was good to come back home. I knew some of the guys on the team,” McAllister said. “The grad school program (Eisenberg School of Management) is one of the best in the country. So it made it pretty easy.”

UMass has had good luck with veteran transfers under Whipple as quarterback Blake Frohnapfel, tight end Adam Breneman and cornerback Kelton Bracket have all stepped in and been contributors right away.

McAllister played three games and made 22 tackles as a senior in 2017 at UConn before breaking his hand. One more game would have prevented him from being eligible for a medical redshirt.

UMass was not only close to home, but presented the possibility of a promising final season.

“They finished the season 4-2. This team is definitely on the rise,” he said.

McAllister, whose hand has healed and has been a full participant in spring practice, steps in the starting safety role vacated by graduated Jesse Montiero.

“He’s been really good. He’s a good worker. He has really good instincts. He’s settled in. He’s becoming more of a leader,” UMass coach Mark Whipple said. “He’s smart and he works at it. He’s played. The guys who are experienced and come in have helped us.”

Defensive backs coach Steve Costello echoed his boss.

“For us to be able to get a veteran, who is smart and has seen a lot of things, is huge for us. Brice has been good,” Costello said. “Obviously with him playing at UConn and having leadership skills that helps us out a lot in the secondary,” Costello said. “He brings that veteran experience and things of that nature. He’s working hard. We’re looking forward to him coming back working with the guys and keep getting better.”

Completing his undergraduate degree a semester early allowed McAllister to enroll at UMass in January in time for spring practice.

“It’s very helpful that I was able to get here in the winter. Being here during spring ball has helped a lot,” he said. “I’ve been able to pick it up pretty quickly. At UConn I had two different coaches and I picked it up pretty easily. It’s been a good transition. We’re jelling. I feel like I’ve been here for four years.”

He’ll get one more game at UConn, albeit as a visitor as the Minutemen will face the Huskies on Oct. 27 at Rentschler Field.

“A lot of the guys on the team messaged me and said things about it,” McAllister said. “It’s going to be cool to go down to the Rent and be the away team down there. That should be a cool experience.”

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