Hours after news broke of his decommitment from UMass, Springfield Commerce linebacker Sha'ki Holines is verbally committing to UConn, his head coach Tyrone Mathis tells ESPNBoston.com tonight.
Holines had initially committed to UMass late last June, and was the Minutemen's first in-state commitment of the Class of 2013, before telling The Springfield Republican's Terrence Payne this afternoon that he was decommitting.
"Personally I thought he committed [to UMass] early," Mathis told ESPNBoston.com. "I thought he should've went to several other camps [before making a decision]. But he's a young man with growing to do, and some decisions to make on his own in life, and that's one of them."
Earlier this evening, Mathis expressed surprise to learn of Holines' change of heart. But after reflecting some more, Mathis says Holines had a fond liking for UConn's camps after coming out to a one-day camp at the Storrs, Conn. campus following his sophomore year. The Huskies didn't extend a scholarship until early July of this summer, however, and by then Holines had apparently made up his mind to shut it down until the beginning of preseason, with a UMass commitment in tow.
"I can tell you this decision took a lot out of him," Mathis said. "It's tough for him talk about, it's a hard decision for a young man to make. I think he just followed his heart and that's where he wants to be now."
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Holines is currently the No. 8 ranked overall prospect in Massachusetts, according to ESPNU, and yesterday was named to ESPNBoston.com's Preseason MIAA All-State Team. Holines helped the Red Raiders advance to the Western Mass. Division 2 Super Bowl last December after going 2-9 in 2010. For the 2011 season, he registered 132 tackles, including six sacks, and recovered four fumbles. As a tight end offensively, he caught 22 passes for 232 yards and three scores.