Safety Christian Birt dismissed from UMass football team
AMHERST — University of Massachusetts starting safety Christian Birt has been dismissed from the football team for academic issues.
Coach Charley Molnar confirmed after practice Wednesday that he had removed Birt from the roster.
“He will no longer be with the football team. There were some things he needed to take care of academically,” Molnar said. “He has too much work to do. Right now he’s going to concentrate on his school work. That’s the best course of action for him.”
Birt, a junior, was sixth on the team with 36 tackles in six games. He had one interception that he returned 32 yards for a touchdown against Michigan. The Laconia, N.H., native played in 11 games as a freshman and 10 games as a sophomore.
Birt is the fifth player disciplined by Molnar for academics. Molnar dismissed fellow defensive back Mike Lee earlier in the season and suspended Nick Speller, Alan Williams and Jamar Smith last month. The latter three were allowed to return after they caught up academically.
“I don’t see him returning,” Molnar said. “He has too much work to do.”
Molnar said because of the emergence of true freshmen Khary Bailey-Smith and Joey Colton, and the return of Ed Saint Vil from injury, he didn’t think Birt’s absence would disrupt the defense.
“I don’t think we miss a beat,” Molnar said.
HEALTH UPDATES — Sophomore wide receiver Marken Michel, who missed time with a shoulder injury earlier this season, had to be helped off the field with a lower leg injury Wednesday.
“He tweaked himself,” Molnar said. “I think he’ll be OK. I’d put him as probable” for Saturday’s 2 p.m. game at Akron.
Redshirt freshman Jamie Casselberry, who has been sidelined with a concussion, continued to progress enough that Molnar expected he’d be available Saturday.
“I think we’ll travel him based on what he’s done the past couple of days.”
True freshman guard Al Leneus, who earned his first career start last week, missed practice Wednesday with a combination of illness and injury. Molnar ruled him out Saturday. Michael Boland and Speller will start at guard.
GRIFFIN TO JETS — Former Minuteman John Griffin became the latest UMass graduate to join the New York Jets, who signed him to their practice squad this week. Griffin, who played his first three years at Northeastern, completed his career at UMass. Former UMass offensive lineman Vlad Ducasse is also on the Jets.
Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum is a UMass alumnus. He previously signed ex-Minuteman James Ihedigbo.
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com.