Fiske to get shot at UMass
AMHERST - Jordan Fiske doesn't have a scholarship to play football at the University of Massachusetts. The preferred walk-on will get as much of a chance to have a role with the Minutemen as the 2014 scholarship class.
"I don't know many of the guys right now. I've always treated them that way," said UMass coach Mark Whipple after National Signing Day concluded on Wednesday. "The bottom line is that the best players play. There's a scoreboard out there for a reason."
Fiske, who graduated from Wahconah in 2013, is part of a 24-player recruiting class. Fiske is one of five Massachusetts football players in Whipple's first recruiting class.
Ten of the 24 members of the new class are either offensive or defensive linemen. It's a group the new UMass coach is pleased with.
"Like everybody else in the country, we're happy. Time will tell, but I think we've got some good kids," Whipple said after all the letters of intent were returned. "I think we have some good students and guys that fit UMass.
"I think our staff and the people at UMass did a great job in selling the product and selling the university and it all paid off."
As far as being a walk-on, Whipple said that once the bell actually rings for spring practice, players like Fiske will get an opportunity to show what he can do. And it's not like walk-ons haven't been successful here.
"If you look back, you have James Ihedigbo had a really good career [starting] as a walk-on. Kole Ayi had a pretty good career as a walk-on," said Whipple. "We've always had those kind of guys.
"We'll need those again."
Aye walked on at UMass and ended up playing two NFL seasons with New England and St. Louis. He was on the Rams roster in 2001 when they lost to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI.
Ihedigbo walked on at UMass out of Northampton High School. He signed with the New York Jets as a free agent. He spent three years there, was a member of the 2011 Patriots and is now in Baltimore. He was part of Ravens team that won Super Bowl XLVII in 2012.
Whipple and his staff have players coming here from five different states. Two of them, quarterback Blake Frohnapfel and wide receiver Alex Kenney, are postgraduate students. Frohnapfel played at Marshall and Kenney came from Penn State.
The Minutemen brought in three quarterbacks to compete for the starting job in Whipple's pro-style offense. There are also two other tight ends - Jon Denton from Coffeyville (Kansas) Community College and Jean Sifrin - on the list of signees. The first-year head coach said that Fiske will get an opportunity to show what he can do, and in fact, has already done some of that.
"We've had five sessions with him. I noticed him the other day, and I think he's got ability," Whipple said of Fiske. "He's got athletic ability. We haven't given them the total playbook, but we have given them things to study.
"It's a big jump from [high school] to college, mentally and physically. The reports from the strength coaches have been great. The attitude has been great. It's been really good."
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