AMHERST, Mass. - On February 6, Charley Molnar stood in front of a group of reporters and called UMass' 2013 recruiting class the best in school history.
UMass Freshman Lorenzo Woodley
The new kids are on campus now and are well aware that there is much to do in order to live up to their reputation.
“It's a big transition for me to go from high school to this. I think I can get adjusted to it pretty quickly, but it was very high tempo, and the pace was really fast. I like it, but I really need to get myself used to it,” said Lorenzo Woodley, a highly-touted running back who is considered by many to be the crown jewel of UMass' class.
Woodley said that he and the other newcomers need to pay attention to the upperclassmen and “learn the system quickly.” He added that it's way too early to talk about the quality of the 2013 class.
“There are a bunch of good upperclassmen on this team right now, and we need to talk about winning right now. The future doesn't matter, yet,” he said.
Steve Casali, a linebacker from Long Island who committed to UMass early in the recruiting process, also pointed to UMass' high-tempo practices when discussing the biggest adjustment from high school to college. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound athlete said he added some speed during the offseason but isn't quite where he wants to be.
“I made a lot of mistakes out there, and I just need to learn from them,” he said. “Everyone up here can play ball, and these guys are just great players and great teammates. I need to learn from them, and I need to learn from my mistakes.”
Molnar noticed the mistakes and said some of the freshmen were floundering a bit on the practice field. He was a little more reserved in his opinion of the class after UMass' first practice.
"You know, I don't know if any one of them stood out, but I thought there was a good number of them that looked like they're going to be legit players as time goes by,” he said.
While most of the new guys are incoming freshmen, a few have a bit more experience. David Osei, a fifth-year offensive lineman transfer from Rutgers, is also getting settled into a new system at a new school. He said the upperclassmen have been good about helping with the transition, and when it comes to learning the playbook “everyone has gone out of their way to help me.”
Osei, who saw some high-caliber recruiting classes during his time as a Scarlet Knight, said he was impressed with UMass' incoming freshmen.
“They've got a lot of big bodies out there, and these young kids are really athletic. We have some freshmen, some 300-pound freshmen, that are already moving down the field well. That's impressive no matter what year you are,” he said. “These guys are going to come up and make a real impression around here.”
When discussing his goals at UMass, Osei was quick to mention that he wants to teach the new kids how to be FBS football players.
“I'm trying to just be a nasty dude around here. I want to show how good our line can be, and I want to set an example for these young guys out here,” he said. “They're going to be great, so I want them to know the attitude they have to play with to be successful at this level. I want them to say, 'Hey man, I learned that from David Osei.' I would be happy with that.”
UMass quarterback Mike Wegzyn was impressed with the athleticism of the freshmen but said he would wait before giving his opinion on the class.
The redshirt sophomore wants to see the new guys in pads.
“I want to say the jury is still out until we get some pads on. You can be a no-pad All-American, but things change when you put pads on," he said. "I am really excited with what I've seen so far. There are a lot of guys out there that look promising.”