AMHERST — UMass wide receiver Sadiq Palmer didn’t have a lot of chances to flash his potential in the fall.
The freshman was behind older players on the depth chart and battled injuries. But his leaping touchdown catch at the sideline late to keep UMass in the game against Mississippi State showed his considerable potential.
Brennon Dingle was an academic redshirt in the fall after standing out in camp.
But as spring practice winds down with Thursday’s spring game approaching, both young receivers have had strong performances. Palmer and Dingle figure to be key parts of the offense in the fall along with veteran receiver Andy Isabella.
Palmer’s role will be obvious. The New Jersey native is 6-foot-1, a good route runner and a possession receiver who will likely take over for graduating Jalen Williams. UMass coach Mark Whipple had high expectations.
“He’s a really good football player,” Whipple said. “He competes. He’s got really good ball skills. We’re seeing a lot more confidence in him. He made plays last year in the Mississippi State game and all the way through. I think that’s carried over to the spring.
“He knows the offense a lot better,” Whipple continued. “He’s getting better every day and having a really good spring.”
Palmer said the difference in his play has been obvious.
“I’m definitely way better. I caught up to the speed at this level. I’m starting to make some plays,” he said. “I’m ready to step up and do what I can do to help the team. Last year I was a little nervous and I couldn’t play to my full potential. I’m more comfortable, more confident.”
Dingle has both the swagger and necessary speed to be a 5-foot-9 receiver. The Baltimore native was eager to make his mark.
“I’ve been learning a lot more, perfecting things to be a great all-around receiver,” Dingle said. “It’s been fun learning. I feel comfortable, confident. Coach holds everybody to a high standard. I’m trying to take on more and trying to take the receiving corps to another level.”
Whipple has been impressed.
“We got him (practice) work last year. He knows the offense pretty good. It’s just understanding the little nuances of the defense,” Whipple said. “He’s made plays and had a real good spring.”
Dingle said the fact that he and Palmer have three years together bodes well for the program.
“He’s more of a possession receiver. He runs good routes, very strong. I’m a little bit more of a deep threat,” Dingle said. “I’m going to open him up. Guys are going to be scared of him on the outside. They’re going to forget about me and I’m going to run down the field. We’re going to compliment each other good in these upcoming years.”
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage