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Safety Ed Saint Vil set to return to UMass football Saturday 

In the season opener against Connecticut, the redshirt sophomore safety made four first-half tackles and was clearly making an impact. But on the first drive of the second half, Saint Vil went down with a lower leg injury. He missed the next seven games.

After playing some special teams last week, Saint Vil will likely be back in the mix on defense Saturday when the Minutemen play at Akron at 2 p.m.

“It feels great to be back,” Saint Vil said. “It was a little disheartening, but God is good. I made a recovery. My leg is feeling better and I’m back on the field.”

The secondary has gone through quite a bit of upheaval since Saint Vil’s injury. Mike Lee, who was suspended for the UConn game, returned and then was dismissed from the roster. Christian Birt, another former starter, was dismissed this week. True freshmen Joe Colton, Khary Bailey-Smith, Trey Dudley-Giles and D’Metrius Williams have all emerged as key players, while Iric Harris and Antoine Tharpe have both missed time with injuries.

So Saint Vil, who was among the younger contributors when the season began, is now one of the older players in the secondary.

UMass coach Charley Molnar said the Minutemen were glad to have him.

“It helps from a depth standpoint, not only on defense but on special teams. He seems really excited to be back. He did play in the first game obviously and proved to be better than other guys,” Molnar said. “He’s a big strong kid and he doesn’t seem to have any lingering effects from his injury. When we did our drills, offense against defense, he showed up.”

Saint Vil said while he was injured, he tried to limit his need to get re-acclimated by staying on top of things mentally as well as he could.

“I tried to watch every game and see what defense we’re running and see if I can understand my assignment if I was in. If there was any mistakes made I try to understand even though I’m not on the field,” he said. “The coaches did a great job keeping me involved even though I was injured. I was at every meeting, every practice. I studied film. They gave me tip sheets. I took notes. I feel like I didn’t miss a step. They never forgot about me. They always kept and eye on my even though I was injured and now that I’m back they’re trying to find ways to get me on the field to help.”

Saint Vil said he isn’t thinking about his injury.

“It’s a physical game. When you’re playing not to get injured, that’s when you get injured. When you just play and let everything go and trust in God, you’ll get taken care of,” he said. “I see my team fighting hard every week. I just want to help them out in whatever way I can. I’m just ready to get back on the field and play.”

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

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