Needham senior Mike Panepinto has decommitted from playing lacrosse at the University of Massachusetts, instead opting to pursue a postgraduate year of football at a prep school. The midfielder verbally committed to UMass in Feb. 2012.
Panepinto, a running back, led all Division 2 scorers with 27 touchdowns this past season. The Rockets went 7-4 (5-0 Bay State Carey) and had their season ended with a 42-35 Division 2 South semifinal loss to Mansfield, the eventual D2 Super Bowl champion.
“Football is just something I’m more passionate about,” Panepinto said. “The games and stuff, you can’t really compare it to anything else. I love lacrosse, nothing bad to say about it, but you just can’t replace football.”
Phillips Andover, Phillips Exeter and Deerfield Academy have garnered interest from the senior.
Panepinto’s uncle, also Mike, was a football standout at Canisius (3,416 rushing yards) and was signed by the Buffalo Bills.
“He didn’t really have an influence on (the decision) either way,” Panepinto said. “He just said I should do what I want.”
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