August 04, 2020

UMaine frosh learn on the job

It usually takes at least a couple of years before a coaching staff is able to evaluate the success of a recruiting class.

Coach Jack Cosgrove and his University of Maine football staff didn’t wait around and try to develop last year’s group of recruits.

The Black Bears, who went into the 1993 Yankee Conference season with several question marks, have answered some of those personnel voids with first-year players.

In Maine’s first five games, Cosgrove has already utilized the talents of seven true freshmen. That’s not counting the second-year players, those who were redshirted as freshmen, who have seen action.

With only 10 seniors, Cosgrove hasn’t had the luxury of being able to redshirt these freshmen.

“In an ideal situation you redshirt them all, but it usually doesn’t work that way,” Cosgrove said. “The next guy (in line) is the best guy and it doesn’t really make any difference to me what class they’re in. If the guy’s going to be the best on the field, you use him.”

Jim Rice, a wide receiver from Amherst, N.Y., became the seventh true freshman to see action last Saturday when he played against Richmond. Rice caught two passes for 13 yards.

“He really has been coming on and we weren’t real happy with the play of a couple other guys,” Cosgrove said of the decision to use Rice. “The result of it has been improved practice habits of a couple other players on our team.”

Alon Byers of Albany, N.Y., has become a starter at cornerback, where Maine has been plagued by injuries. Bob Jameson has seen extensive duty as the Bears’ backup tailback.

Andre Pam of Syracuse, N.Y., has been handling the kickoff return duties and is the No. 3 tailback, while Mark Smith from Nutley, N.J., has stepped in to handle kicking off chores.

Bob Williams of Fitchburg, Mass., has seen some action at cornerback, while tight end Todd Williamson of Hackensack, N.J., is a member of the special teams and a reserve tight end.

Jameson and Pam were phased in immediately because they add speed and quickness to the offense. Byers and Williams were called upon after injuries and poor performances shook up the secondary.

Smith has been the most consistent of Maine’s placekickers at kicking off high and deep, while Williamson and Rice were needed to provide depth at end.

Their contributions have been significant.

“I’m not surprised, because they’re good players,” Cosgrove said. “The downer is that they don’t have that year of growth and maturity. That’s the kind of thing you have to live with.”

Bear tracks…. Senior wide receiver Frizell Davis turned in his best performance of the season against Richmond, making seven receptions for 92 yards. The effort moved him into ninth place on Maine’s all-time list with 967 yards. He needs 101 yards to pass Matt Walsh (1981-83) for eighth place.

Mary Lou Winstel, who has been instrumental in the University of Maine field hockey team’s success this fall, continues to rank among the top goalkeepers in the country.

Winstel, a junior from Berlin, N.J., has helped the Black Bears of Coach Terry Kix post a 10-2 overall record, including last weekend’s 1-0 win over 10th-ranked Boston University.

Through last Sunday, Winstel ranked second among NCAA Division I goalkeepers with a .956 save percentage. After Tuesday’s win over Yale, her percentage improved to .961.

Winstel, who has allowed only five goals while making 123 saves, ranks seventh in goals-against average at 0.48. That number is now 0.40, after recording back-to-back shutouts.

Finally, Winstel was 17th in saves with 109 through 10 games. She holds the UMaine season mark for shutouts with eight this fall and the career record for shutouts with 20.

Former Hampden Academy athlete George O’Connor has fit in nicely as a member of the Bentley College football team.

O’Connor, a sophomore cornerback for the Eagles, has made four interceptions in five games while helping Bentley jump out to a 5-0 start. He picked off two passes in the Eagles’ 33-20 win over Assumption last Saturday.

The 23rd Silver and Gold Reunion will be held Saturday, Oct. 23, at 8 a.m. during the Graduate M Club Homecoming Breakfast at Wells Commons on the University of Maine campus in Orono.

The Silver and Gold recognition was initiated by the late Sam Sezak, UMaine Class of 1931, to honor athletes who earned varsity letters while at the university.

This year, letterwinners from 1968-69 will be honored with a silver M, which commemorates 25 years since earning the letter. In all, 82 people earned their first letter in 1968-69.

No gold M’s will be presented this year, since varsity letters were not given in 1943-44 because of World War II. Al McNeilly, Class of ’44, will speak about conditions on campus that year.

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