AMHERST — Shortly after UMass coach Mark Whipple officially announced that Blake Frohnapfel would be the Minutemen’s starting quarterback, several Marshall fans and players took to Twitter to congratulate him, many of whom pledged to root for the Minutemen in addition to the Thundering Herd this season.
While Bill Legg isn’t on Twitter and couldn’t join the cyber feting of Frohnapfel, Marshall’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach will certainly be rooting for the former Herd QB from afar.
“Blake is a fantastic kid,” Legg said. “You couldn’t ask for a better kid on and off the field. He’s got all the intangibles you’re looking for.”
Frohnapfel was Marshall’s backup quarterback for each of the past two seasons, playing behind Conference USA Most Valuable Player Rakeem Cato, who returns this season.
Frohnapfel, who completed his undergraduate degree in three years, chose to take advantage of an NCAA rule that allows players who complete graduation requirements to transfer without having to sit out a year. He elected to go to UMass for a chance to start for two seasons.
Legg tried to convince him to stay.
“I tried to talk him out of it, but at the same time I understood the situation. He wanted to go somewhere where he had a legitimate chance of playing and competing for the starting job,” Legg said. “You can’t fault a kid. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do.”
Legg said Frohnapfel, who played well in sporadic time when Cato was out, was held in higher esteem than most second-stringers.
“Even though he was a backup quarterback, he was still one of the leaders on our football team. How often does that happen? Your starting quarterback you expect that from, but your backup quarterback? I mean that shows how much respect our coaching staff and our football team had for that kid. Even though he wasn’t a starter, he was an integral part of our football team.”
Legg thought Frohnapfel would be a good fit in coach Whipple’s offense at UMass.
“I talked to Whip and I thought he’d be a great fit for what Whip does,” Legg said. “Evidently things have gone well.”
Legg said Frohnapfel handled his desire to transfer with class, sitting down with head coach Doc Holliday and Legg individually.
“He handled his exit the right way. It didn’t surprise me that he handled it the right way. That’s Blake,” Legg said. “You can’t fault him. We wish we still had him, but we wish him the best as he moves forward. I have great affection for the young man. I’ll always have great affection for him. I wish him nothing but the best.”
INJURY UPDATES — UMass got a handful of injured players back to practice as running back Lorenzo Woodley, tight end Rodney Mills and linebacker Da’Sean Downey all participated Wednesday at Gillette Stadium. Cornerback Randall Jette and tailback Jordan Broadnax both missed Wednesday’s practice with minor ailments and are expected back Thursday. Tight end Jean Sifrin’s eligibility status remains unresolved, preventing him from practicing.
RADIO SHOW/SPORTS LUNCHEON — The first Mark Whipple radio show of the season debuts Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. on WWEI-FM (105.5) from The Hangar in Amherst. It will be on Thursdays for the first two weeks of the season before switching to Mondays for the remainder of the year.
Whipple will also be a weekly speaker at the UMass Sports Luncheon, which begins Tuesday at noon in the Performance Center. A tour of the building follows Whipple’s speech. In following weeks, the luncheon will be on Wednesdays at the Mullins Center.