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Jordan Broadnax still out at RB, Stacey Bedell taking advantage for UMass football

University of Massachusetts running back Jordan Broadnax is tackled during last season's game at Connecticut. Broadnax is sidelined with a knee injury and redshirt freshman Stacey Bedell has been taking the snaps with the first team in his absence.
JOSH KUCKENS

University of Massachusetts running back Jordan Broadnax is tackled during last season's game at Connecticut. Broadnax is sidelined with a knee injury and redshirt freshman Stacey Bedell has been taking the snaps with the first team in his absence. JOSH KUCKENS

By MATT VAUTOUR @GazetteUMass
Friday, August 16, 2013
(Published in print: Saturday, August 17, 2013)

AMHERST — It’s too early in camp and too early in the healing process to know whether Jordan Broadnax’s knee injury will threaten his ability to play or start for the University of Massachusetts football team when the Minutemen open the 2013 season at Wisconsin on Aug. 31.

The junior tailback arrived at Friday morning’s practice on crutches and spent most of the practice using just one. UMass coach Charley Molnar said the team would likely know more soon.

“We’ll find out in the next 24 hours,” Molnar said. “It’s nothing long term. It could be a week, it could be a couple days.”

Broadnax’s injury elevated redshirt freshman Stacey Bedell, at least temporarily, to the top of the depth chart.

“It’s a good opportunity to run with the ones, the best of the best. I get to showcase my talent, and go out there and play hard,” Bedell said. “Jordan and I went back and forth in the spring. He had the edge over me, more experience than me. Now he’s hurt. I have to step up and take a bigger role.”

Molnar expects Bedell to have a big role regardless of Broadnax’s status.

“He’s been having a very good camp anyway. He’s getting a few more reps, but the reps are being pretty well divided,” Molnar said. “We’re not trying to wear him out in August. We’ll wait until the first game to give him his real work. ... (Stacey) is probably the fastest guy on the team. He brings and element of speed. He’s our home run hitter.”

Bedell and Broadnax are similar backs size and stylewise. Bedell is listed at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, while Broadnax is 5-9, 175.

“They both have good acceleration into the hole. They both have good vision. Broadnax catches a little better at this stage of his career. Stacey is a little faster. They’re of similar body builds,” Molnar said. “Broadnax, because he’s a little bit older, has a little more bulk to him. Stacey looks very much like Broadnax did when I first got here from a build standpoint.”

Bedell said because multiple running backs figure to see carries, being a starter isn’t as important as it might be at other positions.

“It doesn’t matter who starts,” he said. “We’re all good friends. We don’t get jealous about who starts.”

True freshman Lorenzo Woodley, who has missed most of this week with an ankle injury, is expected to return to the running back competition Saturday.

“I’m anxious to get him back out here,” Molnar said.

OTHER INJURIES — Senior wide receiver/tight end Ricardo Miller missed Thursday and Friday with an undisclosed injury but is expected back Saturday.

Tight end Rob Blanchflower and defensive lineman Daniel Maynes could be back Saturday, but will more likely return Monday.

If this were a game week, “they would be out there,” Molnar said. “We know we’re going to give them Sunday off so we know they should be able to come back Monday and be a lot better.”

YEAR CHANGE — Due to a clerical error in the midst of the coaching change from Kevin Morris to Molnar, linebacker Stanley Andre’s graduation year has been incorrect on UMass rosters. He is actually a redshirt junior as he played just one game during the 2011 season before being injured. He received a medical redshirt for that season.

NAME CHANGES – Two Minutemen will be playing under different names than they were on the roster in the spring. After playing last year as John Robinson, the sophomore linebacker will now be John Robinson-Woodgett, adding his father’s last name after his mother’s. In the spring, UMass’ defensive back transfer from Assumption listed himself as Shaun Hunter Burlinson. He’ll now go by James Hunter Caggiano. He’s sitting out this year under NCAA transfer rules and will have two years of eligibility remaining.

MISCELLANEOUS – After originally planning to temporarily take down the stadium lights behind the press box, the construction crew elected to leave it standing as it disassembles the press box. Part for the roof was removed during Friday morning’s practice.

Open practices will continue through Tuesday of next week before the team switched from camp mode to Wisconsin preparation. There are two practices Monday — 8:45-10:45 a.m. and 3:15-5:15 p.m. — and one Tuesday — 9 a.m. to noon.

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