In 2011, UMass formally announced they elevated their football program to the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision, becoming a member of the Mid-American Conference that started this season. The Minutemen have struggled going 0-3 but playing two Big Ten teams. Umass football took on a big spotlight at the professional level with the success of Victor Cruz of the New York Giants who played his college football with the Minutemen. Four-year starter at free safety entering 2012, Darren Thellen is looking to make the same impact when his collegiate career nears its end later this year. After their week two game against Indiana, Thellen was named Umass Athlete of the Week by the Umass Sport Luncheon Committee and College Football Performance Award after a team high 11 tackles (9 solo), one interception returned 21 yards and a pass break-up. Thellen led all Umass defensive backs with 68 tackles last year and is poised to do the same in 2012.
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