Shortly after University of Massachusetts football coach Charley Molnar secured his first recruiting class in February, he talked about how he wanted New England players to form the foundation of his program. Apparently that was more than just talk.
UMass has clearly made New England –- and Massachusetts in particular –- the focus of much of its recruiting efforts.
BC High offensive lineman Jack McDonald, Everett offensive lineman John Montelus, Xaverian defensive lineman Maurice Hurst Jr., Tabor Academy defensive lineman Tevin Montgomery, BB&N tight end Brendan O'Neil and Catholic Memorial defensive end Peter Ngobidi have each received a scholarship offer from UMass, which held two junior days last month.
In addition, Todd Stafford, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound quarterback from the Brunswick School in Greenwich, Conn., committed to UMass on Thursday. He became UMass' first commitment from the class of 2013.
“I went to the first junior day and [Molnar] said with the move to the MAC they want to start with the local kids,” McDonald said. “He talked about how good the talent is around here, and they want to bring in as many local kids as they can.”
UMass has been competing at the FCS level in the Colonial Athletic Association, but will move up to the FBS level when it begins play in the MAC next season. The Minutemen won't play on campus, but will use Gillette Stadium as their home field.
“It's a little bit of a drive from the campus, but I got to play at Gillette in last year's Super Bowl and it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” McDonald said. “They'll have their own locker room there. I think the positives will outweigh the negatives.”
McDonald also has offers from Boston College and Maryland, and has received significant interest from Duke and Temple.
“Right now I'm considering everything,” he said.
Montelus and Hurst each have at least 10 Division 1 scholarship offers. Hurst received his offer from UMass while at one of the junior days last month.
“I'll definitely consider UMass,” Hurst said. “I really like the coaching staff and a lot of Mass. kids seem to be going there.”
There were six players from New England in Molnar's first recruiting class: wide receiver Khary Bailey Smith (Weymouth), tight end Nevin Cyr (Pelham, N.H.), quarterback A.J. Doyle (Lakeville), linebacker Vondell Langston (Everett), linebacker John Robinson (Springfield) and linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox (Middletown, Conn.).
Wide receiver Derek Beck, a New Jersey native who played at Bridgton Academy in North Bridgton, Maine, signed with UMass as well.
Jake Kennedy, who is perhaps the best offensive lineman from New Hampshire in the Class of 2013, also has a UMass offer. Kennedy plays for Souhegan High School in Amherst.
Kennedy received his offer from UMass defensive line coach Dave Sollazzo earlier this week. He's also receiving interest from Boston College, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Brown and Harvard.
Kennedy said UMass is a school he'll strongly consider.
“Most definitely,” he said. “I could see myself there.”