Woodberry Forest linebacker Mathieu Masse-Pelletier has committed to play football at the University of Massachusetts.

WOODBERRY FOREST — Prior to his junior year of high school, Mathieu Masse-Pelletier decided to leave his home in Quebec and enroll at Woodberry Forest to pursue his dream of playing college football.

The 800-plus mile journey from Canada to Central Virginia has proven worth it for Masse-Pelletier, who has verbally committed to play at the University of Massachusetts.

“UMass was the school of choice for multiple reasons,” Masse-Pelletier said. “It’s geographical location was perfect for my family and I, as it is very close to Quebec. Furthermore, the coaching staff made me feel at home the day they started the recruiting process with me. I believe in their vision of what UMass football program will become.”

Masse-Pelletier has become a fixture at Woodberry Forest, both academically and athletically, since arriving on the Central Virginia campus from his home school, Seminaire-Saint Francios in Quebec, less than two years ago.

“Playing college football has been a dream of mine for a long time and after my last year at SS-F, that’s when I realized it could really become a reality if I was given the opportunity to play in a prep school,” Masse-Pelletier said. “Moving away wasn’t too hard for me because I knew I was going there with a goal in mind. I didn’t have time to look back. I was on a mission and my focus was all on the next step I needed to take to make my dream a reality.”

Masse-Pelletier quickly made name for himself for his big hits and steady play. Nicknamed the “Canadian Crippler” by his classmates, Masse-Pelletier garnered all-conference and all-Central Virginia honors last season.

That prowess on the gridiron didn’t go unnoticed, as college coaches began recruiting him heavily. Masse-Pelletier has had more than 20 college offers over the last year, including all the Ivy League schools as well as Richmond, James Madison, William & Mary, Howard, Elon, VMI, New Hampshire, Rice, Kent State, Liberty and Holy Cross.

But there was something about UMass that stood out.

“The atmosphere at the school was awesome every time I have been there,” Masse-Pelletier said. “I could see myself being a student there, with or without football, and that was really big for me.”

He met with Coach Walt Bell and his staff and there was a comfort level between the two from the very start.

“I think the coaches really like the athleticism I have for my size,” Masse-Pelletier said. “The physicality in my game, as well as my leadership.”

Another plus was the ability to get on the field right away. The Woodberry Forest product said the plan is to go to UMass, which competes as an FBS independent, and compete for a place on the field from Day 1 and help the team in any way he can.

“My goals heading into the next level is to have a positive effect on the program the day I set foot on campus,” Masse-Pelletier said. “I want to keep progressing as an athlete and student and play four great years of winning football.”

Away from the football field, Masse-Pelletier plans to study biology and pursue a pre-med track. He hopes to apply to medical school following college.

Masse-Pelletier couldn’t be happier with his decision.

“This was a long process that required a lot of thought and discussions with my parents,” Masse-Pelletier said. “We all agreed that UMass was the best choice. I do feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I am super excited about heading to UMass for the next 4 to 5 years of my life. I am grateful to attend such a great institution and play the sport that I love at that level.”

With his college decision finalized, Masse-Pelletier hopes to continue to leave his mark on the Woodberry Forest program. Through four games, the senior has 53 tackles, including 34 solo stops. He posted 11 tackles apiece against St. Christopher’s and Georgetown Prep and has also registered three tackles for loss during Woodberry’s 0-4 start.

“We had a slow start to our season and we are focused on getting better every day as a team to fix our mistakes and keep improving together,” Masse-Pelletier said.

That mindset should serve him well next fall as he embarks on a journey of playing college football.

“It really is a dream come true,” he said. “Many people worked hard for me to pursue my dream of playing college football an I am extremely grateful for everyone that believed in me. I hope to make them proud as I go on to UMass.”

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