UMass expects tight end Jean Sifrin to leave for NFL

Saturday, January 10, 2015
It appears that Jean Sifrin’s brief but productive career at UMass is over

According to sources close to the program, coaches are expecting junior tight end Jean Sifrin to forgo his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL draft.

Underclassmen have until Jan. 15 to file the paperwork to make themselves draft eligible. It’s unclear if Sifrin has already filed.

Neither Sifrin nor UMass coach Mark Whipple could be reached for comment.

The 6-foot-7, 250-pound Miami native had to wait until the second week of the season to begin practicing as he waited for the NCAA to clear him academically after transferring to UMass from El Camino Junior College in California. He made an immediate impact with two touchdowns, including an athletic one-hand grab in traffic, against Colorado. He finished the season with 42 catches for 642 yards and six touchdowns in 11 games.

He was a first-team Mid-American Conference tight end and candidate for the Mackey Award, given to the nation’s top player at that position.

Sifrin, who spent five years out of football to take care of his son after high school, is 27 years old. Even if he returned to UMass and improved as a player, his advancing age could cause his draft status to fall.

In November, Sifrin said he was wrestling with his decision as he debated completing his degree or turning professional to help his family financially.

“My mom is struggling. I know a college degree will help set me up for life. There are job opportunities for alumni from this school, but making it to the pros will help now,” he said before UMass’ season had ended. “That was my goal, to reach either a degree or the NFL or both. Age is a factor in my decision. It makes a difference.”

SBNation.com’s Mocking the Draft lists Sifrin as the No. 7 tight end prospect. His blocking ability will need to develop to contribute regularly in the NFL.

Coming out of high school, Sifrin knew he was good enough to play football or basketball somewhere in college, but to take care of his son, Jabarie, now 7, and his girlfriend, he took a job in a warehouse making $25 an hour. When he and his girlfriend broke up, he wanted to give school and sports one more shot. He was hoping to set an example for his son about going to college and hopefully provide for him and his struggling mother if he could reach the professional ranks.

He enrolled and played basketball and football at ASA College in Brooklyn, New York, in 2011, but Sifrin was dismissed after some trouble he disputes. In 2013, he enrolled at El Camino Community College. Whipple saw his tape and offered him a scholarship.

If Sifrin is drafted, it will be two years in a row that a Minuteman tight end is selected. Rob Blanchflower was picked by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the seventh round last year. He spent the season on their practice squad and is expected to compete for a roster spot next year.

GREYSHIRTS ARRIVING — Wide receiver Lamarriel Taylor and quarterback Randall West, who both signed letters of intent to play at UMass in February, will officially join the team at the end of the month as they enroll for the spring semester.

West, who is from New Jersey, suffered a knee injury at the end of his senior year in high school. He chose to wait until the spring to enroll at UMass so he wouldn’t burn his redshirt freshman season rehabbing.

Taylor had 72 catches for 1,516 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns in two seasons at Mission Bay (California) High School. He was a National Merit Scholar as a senior. It’s unclear why he waited until spring to enroll.

Both players can participate in spring practice, but will be true freshmen for the 2015 season.

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage