By Dan Harrison
Danvers native Nick Valles is used to welcoming the spring season by dusting off his baseball bat.
This Spring, Valles will be dusting off his football cleats.
After spending last semester on the gridiron at Milford Academy in what was supposed to be a post-grad year, Valles jumped at the opportunity to transfer to UMass. There, he’ll will walk on to the football team as a running back for Spring ball with a chance to earn a scholarship for head coach Charley Molnar’s team next fall.
“It’s exciting, but I still have other goals,” explained Valles, who believes this is just the first step. “I can’t just be satisfied with coming here (UMass). I have to earn a spot on the team and compete with everybody. I’m excited, but not satisfied until I earn what I’m here to earn.”
Valles just landed on the UMass campus this week and he’s still signing forms and scheduling his classes, so the football part of his collegiate life hasn’t started yet. But he’s come a long way since his senior year at Danvers, where he rushed for 1,012 yards and had 300 yards receiving.
It’s not that the Northeastern Conference doesn’t offer a competitive level of football but at Milford Academy, Valles was surrounded by so many players with Division 1 potential it elevated his game.
“It helped me gain more experience. We played against a lot of Division 1 talent so that meant more competition,” said Valles. “I just feel like a better player because I had to play with other athletes on my team who are D1 level backs that I practiced with and I had to play against D1 talent in games too.”
Valles averaged over seven yards a carry at Milford and even though he only had a total of 26 carries, his superior athleticism was enough to attract some attention. A UMass scout was attending a Milford practice and noticed Valles, who promptly sent the school his recruiting tape.
After attending a Minutemen game last fall, Valles was offered the opportunity to walk-on in the spring and jumped at the chance. Now, he’s determined to make even more out of the opportunity.
“I’m just going to work my butt off to do what I can to try and impress the coach (Molnar),” explained Valles. “I’m coming in here so hungry because I’m trying to earn a scholarship. I love being hungry and trying to get what I want to get. I have more goals to set.”