A New York Times article chronicling the struggles of the University of Massachusetts’ football program has already had a negative affect on the program’s recruiting efforts, according to several sources with direct knowledge of the situation.
The article, entitled “Big Dream, Rude Awakening,” is being used by other programs to dissuade student athletes from committing to UMass. It is unclear what schools are referencing the article, but one source indicated that certain “Northeast programs are specifically using it” now that UMass has “made significant improvements in recruiting.”
Shane Huber, a linebacker that recently decommitted from UMass, cited the program’s “lack of stability” when making his decision. A source involved with recruiting indicated that Sam Zeff, a 2013 offensive lineman who committed to the program last summer, is starting to grow concerned after reading the article.*
“I will say that (Shane Huber) and Zeff were a little shook up when that report came out, and you know kids will believe anything sometimes,” a source told the Maroon Musket after the news of Huber’s decommittment surfaced.
Zeff reached out to the Maroon Musket via e-mail and indicated that he is not at all concerned with either article and remains fully committed to the university.
“I remain committed to UMass and its coaching staff and couldn’t be more excited about being a Minuteman,” he said. “I’ve never questioned my decision, and certainly wouldn’t allow one or two negative articles to change my position. I made a commitment to the school and I intend to honor it, with pride. Go UMass!”
Another source said that other “recruits have voiced concerns,” about the piece. Most of those recruits have “been in the New Jersey area.” The names of the other recruits were not disclosed, but there are currently six recruits committed from New Jersey: Richard Queen, Jordan Page, Enock Asante, Nate Crutchfield, Julian Taylor and Zeff.
“I don’t think the class will be decimated, but there are definitely schools that are trying to use false facts to flip some kids,” a source said.
The Times article, which appeared 17 days after a similar piece was printed in the Boston Globe, came on the heels of a Faculty Senate Meeting where an Ad Hoc Committee on FBS Football voted to not vote on suggesting a the possibility of moving the football program from the Football Bowl Subdivision to the Football Championship Subdivision. UMass has no plans to return to the FCS level.
Neither the school nor the athletic department have made an official comment on either piece.
* Ed. Note: After this piece was published, Zeff e-mailed the Maroon Musket to clarify the situation. The original sentence originally read: “Sam Zeff, an 2013 offensive lineman who committed to the program last summer, is starting to grow concerned after reading the article.” It has since been changed for clarification, and Zeff’s quote has been added.