UMass coach Mark Whipple pleased with early signing period

  • UMass coach Mark Whipple signed 12 players Wednesday, the first day of the early signing period. AP

Thursday, December 21, 2017

On the second day of the first ever early signing period, UMass football coach Mark Whipple said he liked the 12-players his program signed and the idea of the early period in general.

Whipple said the Minutemen had “a couple of players” who they’d hoped to sign that hadn’t yet due to late interest from higher profile programs.

“I think it was good. I think (the early signing period) a good thing. We got hurt at the end on a couple. But that’s happened to us whether it was early signing date or late signing date,” Whipple said. “There’s a couple guys that we’re still dealing with who are kind of seeing what the water is like. ... We’ll wait and see how that works out.”

Whipple can’t comment on any player who isn’t signed or enrolled, but he expected UMass to add some transfers, who’d be joining the program for the second semester and spring football.

“We’re still waiting on a couple transfers who don’t fall under the National Letter of Intent, who’ll come out a little later,” Whipple said.

Among those transfers is expected to be a kicker and a punter, or one player who can do both.

The Minuteman coaching staff will now focus its recruiting efforts toward Feb. 7, the traditional signing day. Whipple said UMass expected to be focused on adding depth at defensive back.

TWO MORE QUARTERBACKS — Whipple said he hadn’t planned to add two quarterbacks in this class. UMass got a commitment from Canton, Ohio’s Jaret Pallotta early and when Florida native Josiah Johnson showed interest, Whipple like him too much not to bring him aboard.

“Jaret is a strong kid who can run the ball also and can throw it really well,” he said. “Josiah came to camp late. We felt he was too good to pass up. I really liked the way he threw the ball. We’re kind of overloaded but you can never have enough good quarterbacks. He was too good in our eyes to pass up. We’ll see how we’re going to handle that later on.”

The duo joins Andrew Ford, Ross Comis, Randall West and Michael Curtis giving the Minutemen six quarterbacks on the roster unless somebody transfers.

“We’ll invent some new formations,” Whipple joked. “Duquesne and BC (UMass’ first two 2018 opponents) can figure them out.”

ARRVING SOON Parker Ogle, an offensive lineman from Florida who signed Wednesday, will graduate early and enroll at UMass for the spring semester.

East Longmeadow’s Elijah Johnson won’t enroll early, but being local, Whipple thought his ability to attend some spring practice might give him a leg up for playing next fall.

WALSH HARVARD BOUND Patrick Walsh, the offensive lineman from Holden who had previous committed to UMass, has officially switched his committment to Harvard via 247Sports.

There’s been no official update on the status of receiver Uchenna Ezewike, athlete Trey Jones and running back Rashard Jackson, who each committed to UMass, but haven’t signed yet.

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