It has been a very interesting couple of weeks for recruiting in the state of Massachusetts, and it only promises to become more so. Let's take a quick look around at what has gone down, and what we're likely to see going forward.
— UMass seems like a good place to start here. The Minutemen picked up two more commitments this week, both offensive linemen. One is BB&N's Andrew Nee, and the other Williston Northampton's Dominik Behrens.
There are a few significant pieces to these pickups, with perhaps the main one being that UMass coach Walt Bell is targeting and getting commitments from the type of linemen he needs for his system. Bell has been vocal about wanting the road graders up front, and Nee, Behrens, and fellow 2020 commit Ethan Mottinger are the perfect maulers for what the Minutemen are going to try and do.
Another key facet is how aggressive Bell has been at spotting local talent. All four of the 2020 commits are either from or play their high school ball in Massachusetts. It's extremely impressive how, in just a short time since taking over the job, Bell has been able to size up the local landscape and identify fits for his program.
Bell is getting in on these players early, which is the best way to give a place like UMass a chance to win recruiting battles against the teams it is competing against. Players like Nee, for instance, were garnering a lot of interest from schools that hadn't yet offered, but Bell and Co. got in on the ground floor and were able to secure the 6-foot-4, 282-pounder's verbal.
So at this early point in the 2020 cycle, Bell already has four commitments, three at a position where you can never have enough depth, and one quarterback in Lawrence Academy's Brady Martin, a Leominster native who has an absolute cannon for an arm.
It's a very promising start, and when you see the buzz UMass is starting to get in the Maryland, D.C., and Virginia area, you have to like where the Minutemen sit at the moment.
— Two weeks ago, St. John's of Shrewsbury wide receiver Jay Brunelle made a splash at The Opening's New Jersey regional, a camp and combine that showcases some of the best talent from around the country.
Brunelle posted a 126.78 rating, which takes into account a prospect's size and testing numbers in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, and other metrics. It was the second-best number of the day, and put him in the 99th percentile of all athletes who have competed The Opening showcases this year.
Needless to say, Brunelle, who already had multiple major Football Bowl Subdivision offers, will see his recruitment take off even more now.
Combined with multi-talented speedster Eamonn Dennis, a returning starting quarterback in Colin Schofield, both of whom also competed at The Opening, and plenty of experience elsewhere, it's hard to envision a lot of teams shutting down the St. John's offense next year. It is always a dangerous attack, but this fall it could be truly special.
— Boston College is absolutely rolling on the recruiting trail right now. Many around the program attribute this to the Fish Field House and overall facilities upgrade as being a game-changer, but it doesn't hurt that the team, even though it only went 7-5 in 2018, had a couple of forays into the top 25.
Bottom line, visibility is up at The Heights, and it's starting to pay off with prospects.
Right now, and we caution against putting too much stock into recruiting rankings in April, but the Eagles have the 27th-best class in the nation according to 247Sports.com. You pretty much don't see that too often with BC, so Steve Addazio and Co. must like where they're heading.
What would help put this class over the top is if the Eagles could build off the momentum of Kevin Pyne's commitment and secure the likes of the other most heavily-recruited players from Massachusetts, something they've had difficulty doing over the years.
It's never easy for BC to win over recruits that are also getting courted by the likes of Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, and the usual suspects that do well in this area. Look at last year, when the Wolverines were able to pull Mike Sainristil of Everett despite a major effort on BC's part to sway him to stay local.
But BC is in a good spot right now, even if the Eagles don't land every top player locally.
— Dipping into the Division 3 ranks, Framingham State picked up two steals for the 2019 class when Lynn Classical wide receiver Nashaun Butler and Pope John XXIII linebacker Ajan Nelson announced their commitments to the Rams on Twitter this past week.
Butler is on the smaller side, but has great hands, route-running ability, and explosiveness out of the slot. Nelson is one of the top linebackers we saw last year, and is a pure thumper in the middle of the defense.
Both players will no doubt be assets for the Rams going forward.