UMass football coach Charley Molnar gets started on 2013

Last modified: Tuesday, December 25, 2012
AMHERST — There was no game to prepare for or even practice to plan, but University of Massachusetts football coach Charley Molnar was plenty busy Monday morning, attacking the offseason with the same vigor he coached the regular season with.

“It’s full speed ahead as far as recruiting and making sure we finish the semester strong academically and start laying the expectations for the 2013 season,” Molnar said.

He met with many players individually Monday morning and had a team meeting scheduled for the afternoon. He said they planned to vote to name captains for the season that just ended (the team used game captains during the season) and the staff would give players an agenda for the weeks to come as well as an overview of what to expect during the time between the end of the fall semester and spring football practice.

Molnar said some players had asked him about possibly transferring, but he declined to reveal who.

“I’ve already had conversations with a couple of guys today,” Molnar said. “I’m letting guys know where they stand so they can make the best decisions about their future.”

Some of his assistants were already on the road recruiting as of mid-afternoon Monday. Molnar was scheduled to head out Tuesday morning.

“We still need help in every area,” Molnar said. “This year we’re trying to get our numbers in line to be where we need to be to run a I-A (Bowl Subdivision) football program.”

Molnar expected to sign 25 scholarship players as well as a number of recruited walk-ons.

“We’ll vigorously recruit walk-on football players, especially from the state of Massachusetts,” Molnar said. “We’re looking for guys that will be great program guys that want to play Division I football.”

He said the staff is in much better shape recruiting than they were a year ago when they were hired.

“We’ve had much more time to develop relationships with the guys we’re recruiting. We have more information on the guys,” Molnar said. “Virtually every guy that’s committed, I’ve met between three and six times. Last year for a number of them, the first time I met them is when they came for their official visit. The relationship building part has been much much better for us.”

Molnar said what UMass can offer prospective players hasn’t changed.

“I think we’re offering the same thing as last year, basically a vision for success on the field and off the field for these young men,” Molnar said. “To help them grow as football players, as students and as social young men.”

The end of the regular season brings coaching firings and firings usually bring a newly available batch of recruits. Many players who committed to a fired coach will often re-open their options.

“That’s part of our business, always surveying the landscape to see what’s available,” Molnar said. “Sometimes a recruit is committed to a university because a particular head coach or position coach had an affinity to that young man’s skill set. But while the university wants to hang onto as many recruits as possible, the new coach might want to reserve the right to say this guy doesn’t fit into what I’m looking for. So if there’s a guy or two that fits into that we’ll certainly go after them.”

The Minutemen got key contributions from three players who took advantage of the NCAA’s fifth-year transfer rule that allows players who have finished their degrees but have eligibility remaining to transfer without sitting out. Molnar said Michael Cox (Michigan), Deion Walker (Notre Dame) and Hafis Williams (Notre Dame) were special cases.

“All three of those young men had unique circumstances,” Molnar said. “I knew the quality of the player and the character. I don’t know if there will be one guy like that again this year. If they come to us, we’ll certainly give those guys consideration. But I’m building this program with high school football players. Time in our system and time in the program is going to make the difference for us to win a championship.”

NUNEZ HEADED ELSEWHERE — Junior college defensive end Bernardo Nunez, who started his career at Pittsburgh and committed to UMass last year, is expected to head elsewhere.

Nunez was unable to get academically eligible for the 2012 season for UMass. If he enrolled at UMass for 2013, he’d have one year of eligibility remaining, but if he plays at a lower level he could have two seasons.

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.