Hunter Brown plays football with a passion and ton of energy. A hard hitter who loves the sport's physical play, he gave St. John's Prep opponents fits.
Now the 6-foot-2, 270-pound lineman has the opportunity to continue dishing out those hits at UMass Amherst after accepting a full scholarship from the school.
"I'm very thankful for this opportunity," said Brown. "I'm happy to have the decision behind me and not be stressed. I'm going to make my official visit next week.
"The fact they have a strong business management program is important to me. I hope to get into the business school."
Brown anchored the Eagles' defense at tackle the past two years and was a two-year Catholic Conference all-star. He was named the conference's Defensive Lineman of the Year this past season.
Brown, who was both a Super 26 selection and a member of the USA Today All-Massachusetts football team, was also recruited by Division 1AA Bryant and Division 2 Bentley, but when UMass expressed a lot of interest, he didn't hesitate to commit.
"Hunter is the best defensive lineman we've ever had at St. John's," said coach Brian St. Pierre. "I think he's the best defensive lineman in the state, playing in the toughest conference on a team that has the hardest schedule. We play everybody, and he's the very best.
"Hunter is an extremely physical player — and he's still young. He turned 17 last July, so he's still maturing and growing."
An assistant coach for the Minutemen first contacted Brown at the beginning of last month. He has been told he will play on the defensive side of the ball, most likely at tackle.
"I love defensive tackle; that's my favorite position," he said. "My family is happy about my great opportunity and the fact I won't be far away.
"I'm going to miss wrestling, but from now on it will be football all the time."
St. Pierre knew his defense would have to step up last fall and carry the burden until his offense clicked behind a new quarterback, Mike Yarin. So after missing the first three games of the season, Brown returned with a bang in a win over Malden Catholic and gave his team the spark needed the rest of the way.
Brown, who is also on the wrestling team at St. John's, excelled at pass and run blocking while taking double teams as a pass rusher. He did his job superbly using strength and excellent technique. He also stepped in at offensive tackle at times, and is so versatile he could play defensive end, guard or fullback, said St. Pierre.
The former Lynnfield resident, who has a 3.3 grade point average, recently moved to Reading with his family.
The one concern Division 1 programs had about Brown was his size. Once they saw him on film, though, UMass was convinced he could play for them. Minuteman head coach Mark Whipple has a personal relationship with St. Pierre.
"Mark was my quarterback coach for a couple of years when I was with the Pittsburgh Steelers," said St. Pierre. "I talked to him about Hunter. The only thing hurting him was height, but I told Mark to look at the film because Hunter's the best. They did, and that changed everything.
"UMass is close to home and plans to play its home games on campus next year instead of at Gillette Stadium. It's big-time football, with Tennessee and BYU on the schedule next season."
McGuirk Stadium in Amherst has been renovated, and bigger crowds are expected with more students going to games on campus. The Minutemen will be at Tennessee Sept. 23 and travel to BYU Nov. 18. They also have a game at Fenway Park against the Maine Black Bears Nov. 11.
"We're really going to miss him," said St. Pierre, "because players like Hunter don't come along often."