The University of Massachusetts football program has never landed a recruit like quarterback Todd Stafford before.
When Stafford told UMass coach Charley Molnar that he wanted to be a Minuteman last Thursday he became the first player to commit to UMass during his junior season in high school.
“I really liked the coaching staff and the more I researched UMass the more I liked it,” Stafford said. “My dad grew up in Massachusetts [Somerset] and he likes it there. I really felt like it was a perfect fit for me.”
Stafford, who plays for the Brunswick School in Greenwich, Conn., received a scholarship offer from UMass after he attended a UMass junior day in February. He also received early interest from Boston College, Duke and Miami, but UMass was his only offer.
Stafford is a pro-style quarterback with good size (6-foot-6, 245 pounds), but suffered season-ending knee injuries during his sophomore and junior seasons. He missed almost all of the 2011 season after being injured during the second quarter of Brunswick's opener against Taft.
“I was planting and got my foot stuck in the turf, then I got hit,” Stafford explained. “The rehab went well. The doctor told me my knees right now are as strong as they've ever been.
“I'm more of a drop-back quarterback. I prefer to throw it more than run it. Their style of offense fits me pretty well.”
Stafford said he first heard from UMass about two months after his junior season. The UMass coaches were watching film of Brunswick wide receiver Donqutae Robinson and saw something from Stafford's sophomore season that they liked.
“I had some solid film from my sophomore year,” Stafford said. “They told me they liked what they saw. They were debating about offering me because of the injuries, but they made the offer at the first junior day. I've been thinking about UMass since then.”
UMass is transitioning from the FCS level (Colonial Athletic Association) to the FBS (Mid-American Conference). The Minutemen will begin play in the MAC this year.
Stafford, who also plays lacrosse for Brunswick, said he would have committed to UMass even if the program wasn't moving to the MAC.
“If they had remained at the I-AA level (FCS) the appeal would have still been there,” he said. “It just seemed like the right place for me.
“I'm glad I made the decision early. Now I don't have to go to all of those one-day camps. I can focus on my team.”