Mike Wegzyn, UMass' former starting quarterback, will transfer to another institution.
Mike Wegzyn, UMass' former starting quarterback, will transfer to another school, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation.
Wegzyn, a redshirt sophomore, will attempt to finish his undergraduate degree and play for another FBS institution under a rule that allows graduate students to transfer without sitting out for a season. He will take a heavier course load in order to finish on time.
“The goal right now is to stay FBS. I'm going to be finishing up school and graduating, and I'm going to start going through the process to get back into recruiting and find the best place for me and go from there," Wegzyn told the Maroon Musket.
When asked for the reason, Wegzyn indicated that there were a number of factors involved, and he was most concerned with "the education aspect of it." When asked if Charley Molnar was the main reason, Wegzyn said UMass' second-year head coach "played a role."
“I never want to talk negatively about anything, but there's a lot of things that played into it, and that was definitely part. The biggest was the education side, and finishing that," he said, adding that having seven quarterback coaches during his UMass career "made things tough."
"I've made plenty of mistakes – probably more than my fair share – but it makes it hard when it's almost a swinging door and there's no real consistency or organization from that standpoint," he said. "There's little nuances from every coach and what they teach, and I just tried to pick up everything I could.”
Wegzyn started all but one game for the Minutemen as a redshirt freshman in 2012 and helped lead UMass to its first win (a 22-14 victory over Akron) as an FBS program. Prior to the 2013 season, Wegzyn was dubbed the team's No. 1 quarterback, with sophomore A.J. Doyle serving as his primary backup.
Head coach Charley Molnar was impressed with Wegzyn's improvement during the offseason and brought him and team captain Rob Blanchflower to Detroit for the Mid-American Conference's Media Day.
“This spring he was a completely different quarterback – he’s light-years better than he was a year ago. Is he going to be an all-MAC quarterback? I don’t think he will this year. He has some work to do. … He’s good enough to win a lot of football games with,” Molnar said that day.
At the end of fall practice, Molnar said Wegzyn was the “clear No. 1 quarterback” for the Minutemen.
Things changed after the Minutemen lost to Maine, 24-14, in the home opener. Wegzyn was pulled in favor of Doyle in the fourth quarter and never fully regained the starting position. He started during UMass' 63-19 loss to Northern Illinois out of necessity – Doyle had not yet recovered from an undisclosed injury sustained during the previous game against Western Michigan.
The former starter hit a low point during UMass' 37-0 drubbing at the hands of Central Michigan. Molnar opted to leave Doyle in the game despite a poor quarterback performance and the lopsided score.
“To me, that was really almost a slap in the face. That's how I was taking it, in all honesty. When I sat there in my home state, where I was born and lived 18 years of my life – it was hard for me. It was hard. I had friends and family there and I had to sit on the sidelines and be treated that way. It hurt. It wasn't a good feeling," Wegzyn said.
He stopped short of saying Central Michigan was a deciding factor: "I tried not to think about it during the season."
Wegzyn said the hardest part of the transfer process has been leaving his teammates.
"That was probably the biggest thing. I posted some stuff on Twitter and I've gotten nonstop support from the team. They've been calling and texting me, and they're keeping my spirits up through it," Wegzyn said. "I can't thank them enough and thank all my friends up here that made this easier.”
Wegzyn came to UMass from Knoxville Catholic High School in Tennessee. He was recruited by former UMass coach Kevin Morris, who was released prior to UMass' first season in the Mid-American Conference.
Without Wegzyn, the Minutemen have three returning quarterbacks on the roster: Doyle, Todd Stafford and Mark Johnson. Stafford, UMass' lone quarterback signee in the 2013 class, did not see any playing time this season. Johnson, son of offensive line coach Dave Johnson, walked on in the fall.
Randall West, a 2014 quarterback from New Jersey, has verbally committed to the school but cannot sign until February.
Derek Beck, a sophomore flex tight end, and Stacey Bedell, a sophomore running back, will also transfer, according to multiple sources. Both Beck and Bedell have requested releases and plan on leaving the program. One source indicated that Bedell will look to play elsewhere. It's unclear what Beck's future plans are at this time.