It was announced earlier this year that Gillette Stadium would be home
to UMass-Amherst starting in the 2012 season. But one Minuteman alum is
beating his college team to the punch.

James Ihedigbo, born and
raised in Amherst, was signed by his hometown team last Friday. Growing
up roughly two hours from Foxboro, Ihedigbo can remember attending
Patriots games back in the old Foxboro stadium.

His decision to choose UMass-Amherst (2002-06) was in honor of his late father, Apollos, who worked and studied there.

The decision is one he’s glad he made.


guess just the community, the students, the environment,” Ihedigbo
said, in response to what he enjoyed most at UMass. “UMass, it’s a big
campus, there’s a lot of kids on campus. And I thought one of the cool
things is, you could walk to class the same way every day, and you’d
meet someone new every day. It’s a high-academic school but yet it was a
fun school as well.”

Despite a successful college career, Ihedigbo
went undrafted in 2007, and ended up on the hated Jets as an undrafted
free agent. In four seasons, he played mostly special teams, but was a
dependable backup safety, too.

Of course, Ihedigbo was thrilled to be
on an NFL roster coming out of college, but he couldn’t help but find
it ironic that it was for a team he considered the “enemy” growing up.

different when you experience it from the other end of it,” he said.
“It’s like crossing enemy lines. But you take it seriously because we
are in the same division and we’re fighting for the same things.”

Now, he’s back on the good side, and hopes to have an extended stay.

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