Notebook: UMass legend Adrian Zullo on hand to see Tajae Sharpe break his receiving record

Last modified: Friday, October 30, 2015
AMHERST — Adrian Zullo loved the good fortune. If his UMass record for career receiving yards was going to be broken, he was glad to be on hand to see it.

The former Minuteman star always planned to come from his Florida home for homecoming. It just worked out that current Minuteman senior receiver Tajae Sharpe entered the game needing just 34 yards to pass him as the program’s leader in the category.

Zullo, who works as a contractor in South Florida, brought his wife Christine and two young sons Gavin (five months) and Alex (two) to the game. Both boys were wearing UMass gear.

Zullo said he’s been following Sharpe from a far.

“He’s great,” Zullo said before the game. “He’s the real deal. The fact that I get to be here to see it is great. The coaching staff loves him and he works really really hard. I think he’s an NFL receiver. He’s legit.”

Zullo, who was a 5-foot-7 true freshman speedster on the 1998 Division I-AA Championship team, marvelled at UMass’ new facilities building.

“That performance center blows away what we had,” he said. “UMass is headed in the right direction.”

He saw Sharpe break the record, on a 25-yard reception slanting right to left in the second quarter, but Kent State did a good job slowing him down.

Sharpe, who entered the game leading the nation with 11.6 catches per game, had just seven catches for 46 yards, season lows in both categories for him as Kent focused its defense on preventing him from breaking out.

“They did a good job with him. He’s a great receiver. Other teams have tried to do similar things and he finds a way to get open,” UMass quarterback Blake Frohnapfel said. “We were saying all week that they have two really good corners and they have two physical safeties. They were doing a great job covering everyone, really.”

Coach Mark Whipple agreed.

“They did a good job. They doubled him and grabbed him a lot. We motioned him out, we were just out of sync on offense,” Whipple said.

ANOTHER MILESTONE — Frohnapfel also reached a milestone despite a tough day. His 171 passing yards put him over the 5,000 mark for his career (5,139). He’s just the fourth Minuteman to reach the plateau, joining Liam Coen (11,031), Todd Bankhead (7,018) and Dave Palazzi (5,461).

HOLINES RETURNS — UMass got sophomore defensive lineman Sha-Ki Holines back after missing the last two games with a leg injury. He had five tackles.

MISCELLANEOUS — Kent State won its first road game since 2013. UMass had its biggest attendance of the season with 15,217. Joe Colton’s interception to end the first half was the second of his career.

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