Exeter's Laurent to punt for UMass
Laurent, who helped Exeter win the Division I championship in his junior and senior seasons, announced Wednesday that he has given a verbal commitment to the University of Massachusetts.
"Everything heated up pretty quickly with UMass after the season," Laurent said. "I kind of figured out that I wanted to play close to home, and it's cool that UMass plays its home games at Gillette Stadium.
"(UMass head coach) Charley Molnar has been at some big schools and I loved his energy. I think the program has a lot of promise."
UMass upgraded its program from the FCS level to the FBS level last year, when the Minutemen left the Colonial Athletic Association to join the Mid-American Conference.
Laurent, a Brentwood resident, said UMass is bringing him in primarily as a punter, but he will be given the opportunity to compete for the place-kicking job as well.
The University of New Hampshire was the only other school that offered Laurent a scholarship. He said Dartmouth, East Carolina, Elon, Minnesota and North Carolina are among the other schools that showed significant interest.
Laurent, who played varsity soccer as a sophomore, made 41 of his 42 extra-point attempts and four of five field goal attempts last season. He kicked a 32-yard field goal in the fourth quarter of Exeter's 31-21 triumph over Pinkerton Academy in the 2012 Division I championship game.
Laurent also made two field goals (35 and 40 yards) to help Exeter defeat Pinkerton 23-13 in the 2011 Division I championship game. He was recently selected to play for the East in this year's CHaD East-West All-Star Football Game.
"He really works at it," Exeter coach Bill Ball said. "He travels all over the place to attend camps. He's also really athletic. If we had a decathlon at the school he'd win it. His upside, down the road, could be huge."