Colleges notebook: Former UMass DB Josh Wallace now a national champion with Michigan

Michigan defensive back Josh Wallace (12) recovers a fumble by Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe (4) during the second half in the Rose Bowl CFP NCAA semifinal game on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif.

Michigan defensive back Josh Wallace (12) recovers a fumble by Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe (4) during the second half in the Rose Bowl CFP NCAA semifinal game on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif. AP FILE


Staff Writer

Published: 01-11-2024 1:37 PM

Josh Wallace stood on the turf inside NRG Stadium in Houston Monday night submerged in Maize and Blue confetti.

The senior defensive back and his Michigan Wolverines were crowned as College Football Playoff National Champions after defeating Washington, 34-13. The high-powered Huskies’ offense, led by first-round hopeful Michael Penix Jr., was stymied by Wallace and the Michigan secondary all night.

And as Wallace took in the scene during the trophy ceremony, he probably wondered how he got there after being on a one-win team just last season.

That’s right, Wallace was a star on the UMass football team in 2022 before becoming an integral part of Michigan’s run to its first title since 1997. As a junior with the Minutemen, Wallace tallied 41 tackles, eight pass breakups, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. In his lone season as a Wolverine, the corner recorded 33 tackles, four pass breakups and two fumble recoveries – seeing the field more and more as the year progressed.

Wallace forever etched his name in Michigan lore in the Wolverines’ 27-20 overtime win over Alabama in the Rose Bowl CFP semifinals. With the Crimson Tide ahead 17-13 and driving toward Michigan territory, Wallace came up with a clutch fumble recovery that completely changed the momentum of the game.

From going from a guy just trying to make a name for himself at UMass to making monstrous plays on the sport’s biggest stage, Josh Wallace’s move to Michigan certainly seemed to be a successful one.

Murray records first shutout in season debut for Dallas

Former UMass goalie Matt Murray took to the crease for his first start of the season on Monday, as the Dallas Stars visited the Minnesota Wild. Dallas defeated the Wild 4-0 for Murray’s second career victory, and first career shutout win. Murray started in place of injured starter Jake Oettinger. Dallas’ second-string goalie, Scott Wedgewood, had played in 10 consecutive games in Oettinger’s spot, so Murray slid in to spell him.

The 25-year old stopped 23 shots and earned the game’s third star behind Tyler Seguin and Roope Hintz, each of whom recorded a goal and an assist. 

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“Obviously, playing in the NHL is one thing; it’s every kids dream, but to be able to get a shutout is on a level of its own,” Murray said after the game. “I’m ecstatic.”

At UMass, Murray played five seasons and was a part of the 2021 team that hoisted the national championship trophy. He posted a career record of 83-43-4 and a .916 save percentage in 143 total appearances. 

Murray turned in a tremendous performance when his number was called, and he received high praise from several members of the Dallas team.

“Spectacular,” Stars forward Tyler Seguin said of Murray. “I’m sure he’s been dreaming about a moment like this his whole life.”

Brower out at UMass, joins Holy Cross staff

Minutemen defensive line coach Valdamar Brower parted ways with his alma mater to take the same role at Holy Cross. Brower spent two seasons at UMass after coming over from Springfield Central High School – where he developed the Golden Eagles into one of the most dominant programs in Massachusetts.

Central won three straight state titles under Brower, and the program produced numerous high-level Division 1 athletes. During his playing days, Brower was an All-American at UMass, and wanted to return to Amherst to help develop the Minutemen in any way he could. In his first season (2022), Brower helped UMass skyrocket from 130th to 55th in FBS in total defense.

Holy Cross is hoping Brower can do the same with the Crusaders unit that gave up 26 points per game on average. New coach Dan Curran takes over for Bob Chesney, who left Holy Cross after this past season for the James Madison opening.

ADDITIONAL UMASS FOOTBALL NOTE: The Minutemen’s 2024 game with Army scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 9, 2024 is now off. With the Black Knights’ move to the American Athletic Conference, they needed to cancel five games to create room for the conference slate. UMass was one of those five.

Mount Holyoke hires new AD

Mount Holyoke College announced on Thursday morning that it has appointed Andrea Ricketts-Preston as its director of athletics and chair of physical education.

The beginning of her duties will start remotely on Feb. 1, and she will transition to being on campus fully come May. She was the senior associate director of athletics at her previous stop at Goucher College in Maryland. The school said Ricketts-Preston has over 15 years of experience in coaching and administration, as well as in NCAA compliance and equity and inclusion.

“I’m honored and humbled to be selected as the next director of athletics and chair of physical education at Mount Holyoke College,” Ricketts-Preston said, via MHC’s press release. “I look forward to working with the athletic department’s team of coaches and the Division of Student Life to build a strong foundation of success and support for our student-athletes as they challenge themselves to excel academically, athletically and personally.”