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Former UMass tight end Emil Igwenagu activated by Philadelphia Eagles

AMHERST — Former University of Massachusetts tight end Emil Igwenagu was signed to the Philadelphia Eagles active roster Tuesday and is expected to be in uniform for his first NFL game Thursday when the Eagles host Cincinnati.

“That would definitely be exciting,” Igwenagu told Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia. “Obviously for any kid the dream is to make it playing in the NFL. That would definitely be great, be a dream come true — and to stay there as well.”

Igwenagu, a Boylston native who went to high school at Holy Name in Worcester, signed with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent and competed in training camp as a fullback and a tight end. He was cut late in camp and immediately signed to the practice squad where he’s played both positions.

Igwenagu becomes the sixth UMass alum playing in the NFL. He’ll play against former Minuteman teammate Jeromy Miles, who plays safety and special teams for the Bengals. If Igwenagu remains on the active roster he could face New York Giants wide receiver and former UMass teammate Victor Cruz when Philadelphia plays at New York on Dec. 30.

Vladimir Ducasse (New York Jets), James Ihedigbo (Baltimore Ravens), Jeremy Cain (Jacksonville Jaguars) and Josh Samuda (Miami Dolphins) are former Minutemen in the NFL.

Eagles coach Andy Reid told CSN Philadelphia that Igwenagu nearly earned the team’s starting fullback spot over Stanley Havili in the preseason.

“He did a good job or we wouldn’t have him here. Havili had the advantage on him just by knowing everything and having played the position,” Reid said. “Emil had played tight end and was kind of converting to the fullback spot and then had to learn this offense. But I thought he played well.”

CAPTAIN BLANCHFLOWER — Junior tight end Rob Blanchflower was retroactively named a captain for the 2012 season and will be a captain for the Minutemen in 2013.

UMass coach Charley Molnar elected to have game captains during his first season leading the Minutemen. The team voted in a postseason meeting who’d go into the UMass record books as the permanent 2012 captains. Molnar won’t announce the other two until the team’s postseason banquet, but chose to let the team know that Blanchflower had earned the role.

“We took a vote on our 2012 captains and he was by far the largest vote getter on the team,” Molnar said. “His team certainly looked at him as being one of the best leaders in our organization. Looking ahead to 2013, I just knew that he would be a captain for us as we go into next year. There seemed to be no reason not to just name him captain and let him exercise his leadership now as we enter the 2013 season.”

Molnar said Blanchflower, who caught 43 passes for 464 yards and two touchdowns, embodied what he looks for in a player.

“He’s one of those guys that comes early and stays late. He’s very demanding of himself and of his teammates. He plays the game with great passion and energy. He works to improve his craft each and every day,” Molnar said. “He’s totally bought in to UMass football and what it represents. He’s an extremely hard worker and an extremely sound student. He’s a great example not only to his piers, but to the younger guys in the program.”

Molnar said he hadn’t decided whether he would name other permanent captains alongside Blanchflower or choose game captains for 1013.

TESTANI TRANFERS — True freshman long snapper Matt Testani announced via Twitter that he’s planning to transfer. The Willison Park, N.Y. native didn’t play in his first collegiate season behind starter Vance Barton.

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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