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Head Coach Charley Molnar names Mike Wegzyn UMass starting quarterback for opener By MATT VAUTOUR Staff Writer Tuesday, August 21, 2012

KEVIN GUTTING

University of Massachusetts quarterbacks Mike Wegzyn, left, and A.J. Doyle chat during practice at McGuirk Stadium in Amherst. UMass coach Charley Molnar announced Monday that Wegzyn will be the starter for the team’s seasonopener at Connecticut on Aug. 30.

MIKE Wegzyn

AMHERST - After Mike Wegzyn led the competition for most of training camp, University of Massachusetts coach Charley Molnar on Monday officially named him the Minutemen's starting quarterback for next week's season opener at Connecticut. "He's clearly separated himself from A.J. Doyle," Molnar said. "That's not to say A.J. hasn't gotten better as (Monday) was one of his best practices, but Mike keeps getting better and better."


Wegzyn, a redshirt freshman, said this would be a special game to start as the Minutemen head into the Bowl Subdivision. "I'm excited to hear that and I'm ready to get rolling," Wegzyn said. "There's a lot of big things going on in the first game. It's the first game in the FBS ... (against) our New England rival. I couldn't be more honored to be the first quarterback to lead the team into the FBS. "I've watched a ton of UConn," he added. "I feel really prepared for them. All summer long I've been looking at UConn tape from last year." Doyle, a true freshman, could redshirt. Molnar said there's been no change in Kellen Pagel's health as last year's starting quarterback tries to come back from post-concussion symptoms. "They're trying a number of new therapies that probably weren't right to use until this time," Molnar said. "He's at practice, he's at the meetings. He's attentive. He takes great notes and helps the guys." Molnar said if Pagel returns quickly, he would have a chance to earn back the starting job. "If he comes back in the next couple of weeks, we'll ease him back in and give him a chance to compete for the job," Molnar said. JOB COMPETITION - In addition to both kicking and punting spots, Molnar said there are a handful of other jobs still undecided. "There's still a few spots that are up for grabs, but after the last scrimmage a lot of guys started to place themselves where they belong," Molnar said. "Kicker and punter could go down right to the end." Returning kicker Brendon Levengood is competing with Blake Lucas, a true freshman from Georgia. At punter, Jeff Strait, who averaged 37.3 yards per punt last year, is competing with Colter Johnson, a junior college transfer from Alfred State College. Molnar said the starting job at left guard is between redshirt freshman John Wallace and true freshman Michael Boland. The No. 2 tight end spot, who will see regular action in formations with two tight ends, will be filled either by redshirt freshman Brandon Howard or true freshman Derek Beck. Junior Rob Blanchflower is the starter.


Molnar said multiple running backs will have a chance to carry the ball, but he is not sure who will start. "Who will run out first with the offensive unit, I can't tell you if it would be (Chris) Burns or (Michael) Cox," he said. CAMP CLOSING - The Minutemen will scrimmage on Wednesday, which will officially end training camp before the team begins preparation for its opener against Connecticut at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 30 at Rentschler Field in East Hartford. "They'll get one more day off between now and the UConn game," Molnar said. "Toward the end of the week we'll begin our seven-day preparation to get into game week." While some programs have a fun event to mark the end of camp, Molnar said he has none planned. "We've got too much to do," he said. "We don't have time for any joviality." RECRUIT ON BOARD - Daquan Mack, a 6-foot-1, 245-pound running back from Fairless Hills, Pa., is the latest verbal commitment for the Minutemen in the class of 2013, according to XOFan.com. Mack, who also had interest from UConn, Temple and Villanova, is the 14th recruit to commit to UMass. 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 http://www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.

Head Coach Charley Molnar Names Mike Wegzyn UMass Starting Quarterback for Opener