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UMass lands eight in early signing period

Walt Bell retains all but one verbal commitment.

Massachusetts v Georgia Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The early signing period came fast in Amherst with new coach Walt Bell introduced only a couple weeks ago.

And while the Minutemen were never heavy threats on the national rankings standings, UMass fans should be pleased with the eight solid recruits who officially signed their national Letter of Intent during the Dec. 19-Dec. 21 early recruiting window.

The only decommit was defensive tackle Mike Ciaffoni from Lincoln-Sudbury High School who signed with Boston College instead.

The Early Eight

Jaylin Bannerman

  • Position: OLB
  • Measurables: 6’5”, 240 lbs.
  • Hometown: Pickerington, Ohio
  • JUCO: Arizona Western College
  • Other FBS offers: UTEP, Liberty, Western Kentucky

The Minutemen struggled to stop the run and put any pass rush on opposing quarterbacks. 24/7 Sports has Bannerman as a three-star recruit and the eighth-ranked JUCO SDE in the country. He looks to be someone who can make an instant impact.

Malik Sanders

  • Position: CB
  • Measurables: 5’11”, 175 lbs.
  • Hometown: Greenville, Mississippi
  • JUCO: Northwest Mississippi CC
  • Other FBS offers: Florida Atlantic, UL Monroe, Middle Tennessee St., Old Dominion, Western Kentucky, UTSA, Southern Miss

The three-star cornerback committed to Walt Bell’s Minutemen following a recruiting visit last Friday to Amherst. With Lee Moses graduating, the starting corner spot will be an interesting spot to watch with who will start opposite Isaiah Rodgers.

Taj Jones

  • Position: WR
  • Measurables: 6’1”, 201 lbs.
  • Hometown: Paterson, New Jersey
  • School: Pope John XXIII
  • Other FBS offers: Rutgers, Temple, Buffalo, Old Dominion, Toledo

Another campus visitor who was sold on Amherst last weekend. With all-everything wide receiver Andy Isabella moving on, having a volume of quality wideouts such as Jones will be important to balance defenses in 2019.

Bryce Wade

  • Position: OT
  • Measurables: 6’7”, 260 lbs.
  • Hometown: Gilbert, Arizona
  • JUCO: Jones County JC
  • Other FBS offers: Eastern Michigan, New Mexico St., Old Dominion

A second signee who played junior college football in Arizona. 24/7 Sports ranks Wade as the 30th overall JUCO offensive tackle in the country. Getting physical will be imperative to keep an efficient UMass offense purring.

Jermaine Johnson

  • Position: CB
  • Measurables: 5’10”, 165 lbs.
  • Hometown: Hyattsville, Maryland
  • School: DeMatha Catholic
  • Other FBS offers: Maryland, Florida Atlantic

That Dec. 14 group of visits paid some serious dividends. Johnson brings his athleticism to Amherst, choosing the Minutemen over his home state Terrapins in a solid win for UMass.

Kevin Brown

  • Position: RB
  • Measurables: 6’0”, 225 lbs.
  • Hometown: Dorchester, Massachusetts
  • School: Everett High
  • Other FBS offers: None

One of the premier programs in the Bay State sends a tailback with good size and a nose for the first down marker to Amherst.

Cletus Mathurin

  • Position: DT
  • Measurables: 6’2”, 290 lbs.
  • Hometown: Hartford, Connecticut
  • School: Cheshire Academy
  • Other FBS offers: Buffalo, Army, Navy, Old Dominion

Another potential weapon to stop the run in years to come. There are several defensive tackles currently on the Minutemen roster, so Mathurin will have to play at a highly competitive level to separate himself early.

Helber Fagundes

  • Position: OL
  • Measurables: 6’5”, 290 lbs.
  • Hometown: Methuen, Massachusetts
  • School: Everett High
  • Other FBS offers: None

Helber is a native of Brazil, who helped bulldoze a path for one of the state’s most dynamic offenses.

An interesting haul, no doubt. Stay tuned for your regularly-scheduled signing day on Wednesday, Feb. 6.