Last year, the UMass Minutemen did not have what some may consider a productive year. Winning just one game in a tough MAC division, there was still plenty of talent on the team. As a whole, things look much better this year at nearly every position so let’s take a look at how the Minutemen shape up this year at every position starting with kicker.
Unfortunately, Brendon Levengood graduated meaning he is no longer on the team despite being the best kicker in the program last year. Splitting playing time with Blake Lucas, Levengood proved he was the better kicker hitting four extra points on four attempts as well as nine field goals on nine attempts. Six of the kicks Levengood made were from at least 40 yards out including a 46 yard chip shot made successfully. It is a shame that Levengood is no longer with the team as he played in just three games last year and did a fantastic job when called upon.
This year, the Minutemen have a total of three kickers. For kickers the Minutemen have: junior Blake Lucas, redshirt freshman Markus Colin, and true freshman Matt Wylie. Of course this means Colin has experience with the program but has never played in an actual game. Obviously Lucas is the only man on the team with experience playing in games, but whether or not he earns the starting kicker role is suspect after missing some really kicks last year.
Blake Lucas has the most experience out of anyone in the program playing D-1 football, but it may not be enough for him to sustain a starting role. After a disappointing sophomore year where he went just 3-10 on field goal attempts including missing a pair of attempts under 30 yards away, it would be tough to imagine Special Teams Coordinator Ted Daisher trusting him once again. Despite going 10-10 on extra point kicks, Lucas may be spending a lot more time on the sidelines this year.
Matt Wylie is a highly talented kicker who received interest from UTEP, SMU, SMU, Oklahoma, and Vanterbilt. In the end the 6ft5 kicker went with UMass where he has a chance to be the starting kicker as a preferred walk-on. Wylie really impressed in high school not missing an extra point on 31 attempts his senior year. He also made three field goals as a senior and four as a junior. He is in good position to earn a kicking role on the team as he could kick for four years like Colin and unlike Lucas.
Markus Colin is an interesting guy who could find himself some playing time for the Minutemen as well. A graduate of Allentown High School in Allentown New Jersey in 2013, Colin has a video online to get recruited which shows him hitting a 27 yard chip shot from the left hash and goes all the way up to a 50 yard moonshot field goal. His kickoffs are also impressive as he consistently kicked close to 65 yards every time. With another year under his belt since the video, Colin could be even better now giving him a legitimate shot at getting some playing time this year.
The battle for starting kicker for the Minutemen will be an interesting one to watch. After Blake Lucas lost his starting role last year, he has the chance to regain his job, but with a pair of younger talented kickers in the program, he will need to be a lot better than he was last year. The kicking role is up for grabs here with no definitive winner. Since there is a limited number of men who can dress every week, expect only one man to dress a week. If it really comes down to it and a kicker gets hurt in the middle of a game, the starting punter can finish the job for one day.