UMass notebook: Ellis Merriweather named to Maxwell Award preseason watch list

  • UMass running back Ellis Merriweather was named to the Maxwell Award Watch List as one of the best running backs in the country. PHOTO BY J. ANTHONY ROBERTS

  • UMass running back Ellis Merriweather was named to the Maxwell Award Watch List as one of the best running backs in the country. CHRIS TUCCI/UMASS ATHLETICS

Staff Writer
Published: 7/18/2022 5:14:43 PM
Modified: 7/18/2022 5:14:19 PM

Ellis Merriweather carried the UMass football team’s offense for long stretches of last season.

The UMass running back is now earning national recognition because of it. He was named to the 2022 Maxwell Award Preseason Watch List on Monday. The Maxwell is annually presented to the most outstanding player in college football.

There are 85 players on the watch list announced by the Maxwell Football Club.

Merriweather, a redshirt senior from Alpharetta, Ga., is also an East-West Shrine Bowl 1000 list selection and a 2022 Phil Steele Preseason Independent All-Conference First Team member.

He became the Minutemen’s first 1,000-yard rusher in the FBS era in 2021, amassing 1,138 yards with five touchdowns. He also caught 22 passes for 165 yards and a score. Merriweather was a member of the 2021 Phil Steele All-Independent Second Team.

The Maxwell Award has been presented since 1937 in honor of Robert “Tiny” Maxwell, who was a former standout at the Swarthmore College and a renowned sports writer and football official. Semifinalists will be announced Nov. 1, and the award’s three finalists will be unveiled Nov. 22.

UMass opens the season Sept. 3 at Tulane.

Minutemen sticking at pro level

Matt Murray must have made an impression with the Texas Stars. After joining the Dallas Stars’ AHL affiliate on an amateur tryout following his graduate season with UMass, the goaltender inked a two-year AHL contract to stay in Cedar Park, Texas, a half hour north of Austin, on Monday.

Murray went 5-1 in six regular season games, allowing just 1.68 goals per game with a .947 save percentage. His one shutout was part of a 3-0 week that helped him win AHL Player of the Week honors.

Texas reached the Calder Cup playoffs and fell in a tight two-game sweep against the Rockford IceHogs.

Former UMass forward Mitchell Chaffee also signed a one-year two-way contract with the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. Chaffee signed with the Wild after his career in Amherst and amassed 39 points and 23 goals with the Iowa Wild in the AHL last season. He appeared in two NHL games with Minnesota, making his NHL debut April 19 in Montreal.

Hockey tournament matchups set

The Kwik Trip Holiday Face-Off, the UMass hockey program’s late December tournament at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee, Wisc., announced its opening pairings Monday.

The Minutemen will face Clarkson at 5 p.m. ET on Dec. 28. Wisconsin gets Lake Superior State in the other game. The winners will play in the championship game Dec. 29, while the losers match up in the consolation game the same day.

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