With just 5 days remaining until the Minutemen of UMass Amherst take the field against the Tulane Green Waves, let’s take a look at the center of their offense; running back Ellis Merriweather. After a disappointing 1-11 season in 2021, tens of thousands of fans place their dreams of reaching a winning record for the first time in 14 years on the shoulders of the 6’2,” 225 lbs senior. Under the new leadership of Don Brown, can Merriweather be the defining factor in turning UMass football around?
Before his college career, Merriweather was a multi positional star for his hometown of Alpharetta, where he set a single game record for most multi-purpose yards. Along with playing as a runningback, quarterback, wide receiver, and free safety for Alpharetta, Merriweather also stood out on the school’s basketball team, even garnering interest from Rutgers and Navy. After his impressive high school career, Merriweather played for a community college in Garden City, Kansas, where he averaged over five yards per carry and scored three touchdowns. In 2018, he helped Garden City achieve a record of 10-1 and go all the way to the NJCAA championship game. In 2019, he reached an average of nearly six yards per carry and scored six touchdowns.
A True Breakthrough Story
After two years with Garden City, Merriweather transferred to UMass as a junior, where he started in three of the teams four games. Through the team’s short season, he carried the ball 42 times for 115 yards and caught one pass for 4 yards. Despite having a minuscule start to his FBS career, Merriweather had a breakthrough season in 2021 as a redshirt junior. Despite going 1-11 as a team, Ellis’s individual performance was impressive to say the least. He boasted 1,138 all purpose yards, six touchdowns, and 218 consecutive carries without a single fumble. After setting a school record for the most 100+ yard games in a season with seven, he became the first Minuteman to achieve a 1,000 yard season since the team joined the FBS in 2011. After his jaw-dropping season, he was named to Phil Steele’s All-Independent Team and was voted team captain by his peers.
The Year Built For Success
Now, with years of experience as a Minuteman, a stronger team than ever before, and a highly experienced coach, this season radiates success for Ellis Merriweather and his team. Unlike previous years, Ellis has the support of a roster of older, smarter, and stronger players that compliment his play style. Along with this, Merriweather has a coaching staff that can transform him into one of the most threatening playmakers in the league. Even before the season begins, Merriweather has already been named to the Maxwell Award preseason list as one of 85 most outstanding players in college football. Nothing will come easy for UMass Amhearst’s Minutemen, but Ellis Merriweather’s 2022 season may just turn the team towards the right direction.
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