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Matt Vautour: Freshman LB Shane Huber happy to be a Minuteman

University of Massachusetts freshman linebacker Shane Huber (8) jokes with teammates including Jaurice Jones, third from left, and Derek Beck (89) while waiting to have pictures taken at media day Tuesday at McGuirk Stadium.
 JERREY ROBERTS

University of Massachusetts freshman linebacker Shane Huber (8) jokes with teammates including Jaurice Jones, third from left, and Derek Beck (89) while waiting to have pictures taken at media day Tuesday at McGuirk Stadium. JERREY ROBERTS

Wednesday, August 21, 2013
(Published in print: Thursday, August 22, 2013)

AMHERST

Shane Huber doesn’t want to be the guy who almost didn’t go to the University of Massachusetts. He wants to be the guy that made a considerable impact when he arrived.

Huber winced a little when asked about January, when he briefly decommitted from UMass.

Huber, now a true freshman linebacker for the Minutemen, liked the school, coach Charley Molnar and the idea of being part of the foundation of UMass’ time in Bowl Subdivision football.

But at the time, some members of the faculty senate were attempting to convince the administration that FBS football was a bad idea and aggressively courted media attention in hopes of rallying support for their cause.

While their attempts had no success convincing the chancellor, the president’s office or the board of trustees, the media attention filtered through social media left many people believing UMass was reconsidering its upgrade. Rival coaches, who hoped to land the Basking Ridge, N.J., product whose stock was on the rise, were happy to feed the fear that those reports were true.

Huber was far too good a player for championship subdivision, so he decided to explore his options and got plenty of media attention when he decommitted.

“Being a young kid, people pull you in different directions — coaches, family, friends, reporters, everybody,” Huber said. “There was a lot going on in my mind. On one hand it was something I really regret, but on the other hand it was a great learning experience. I was able to mature a lot through it. I’m grateful for that whole experience.”

After having things explained and his fears assuaged by the Minuteman coaching staff, Huber decided he still wanted to be part of UMass’ future. Wearing his brand new maroon No. 8 UMass football jersey at media day Tuesday, Huber said he felt like he made the right choice.

“I’m just really enjoying everything so far. It’s been a great experience,” he said. “I love the guys and I love the coaches here. Everything is going great.”

He tweeted a picture of the jersey hanging in his locker with the message:

“Going to represent my families name to the best of my abilities in this uniform for the next 4 years.”

It was the latest of many tweets professing his excitement about the start of his football career that have been coming at a steady pace all summer.

A middle linebacker in high school, he’s moved to the outside to get a better chance of being on the field. He’ll be on several special teams units and will be in the mix to see regular action at linebacker.

“I’m playing outside linebacker, which is something I’ve never done before. But I took it on and I’m really excited about it,” he said. “I’m getting better every day.”

Barring a setback or an injury, he’ll be on the plane to Madison next Friday and on the field against Wisconsin for the season opener.

He’s eager to start playing and make his mark as a Minuteman.

I wouldn’t rather be anywhere else. I always knew I wanted to be here in Amherst. I’m glad this is where I ended up,” he said. “I don’t want (decommiting) to be my legacy at UMass. I want to be something much more.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage.