Pictured winning a face-off his freshman year against Norwood, Medfield junior lacrosse and football star TJ Casey will play Division I lacrosse at UMass after making his official commitment this past week. Photo by Denise DePiero.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Medfield High School's TJ Casey committed to play Division I lacrosse this past week; the junior two-sport star in football and lacrosse will play at UMass.
Casey, who started at linebacker for Medfield varsity football as a freshman in 2018 and became a key cog of the Warriors defensive unit on the lacrosse field during a run to the 2019 Division II state final, made the news official with a post on his Instagram.
Medfield High lacrosse coach John Isaf was very complimentary of Casey's work ethic and team-first mentality.
"Pumped to have him play for Coach [Greg] Cannella and UMass," said Isaf. "TJ is a tough, hard-working athlete with a blue-collar mentality. He's also a great team guy, a glue guy, and a teammate that lifts guys up with his energy and optimism."
Asked what the recruiting process was like during a worldwide pandemic, Casey says it was certainly unique having to miss out on a full spring season and then having to rely almost entirely on summer showcases. Having received other offers from schools such as Ohio State, Syracuse, Utah and Rutgers, Casey ultimately decided to stay home and commit to UMass, where he has family history.
"The recruiting process was definitely not what I thought it was going to be," said Casey. "I received some emails and phone calls from schools that I was very interested in. UMass reached out about a week after the Elite 8 in Delaware. I have family members that attended UMass, so I knew what it was like, but what really drew me in was the campus life. The tradition of UMass lacrosse and what they have achieved in the past was something I wanted to be a part of."
Along with Casey, UMass also gained commitments from two other big-name local recruits in Melrose's Liam Maher and Holderness' Russell Hutchinson, both of whom Casey has grown close with by playing summer club ball with 3D New England.
"The fact that I can carry on the chemistry that myself, Liam and Russell have created over these past few years of playing together is incredible,"said Casey. "At first, I had no intention of being close to home, but ever since UMass reached out to me, they were 100 percent committed and believed in me since the start. I knew I was in good hands with Coach Cannella, Coach Doc and Coach Mac, because I felt like they really cared about me and knew I had potential to succeed."
As far as his immediate future, Casey says he and his teammates at Medfield are looking forward to returning to the field this spring and competing for a state championship. A year off of high school lacrosse is going to bring about a big unknown factor for not only the Warriors, but every team around the state.
"We definitely have some key guys returning this year, but a lot of guys need to step up this year," said Casey. "I know with the help and guidance of Coach Isaf and his staff, that will not be a problem. I talked to one of our senior captains, Sam Hedges, and he spoke about how he really wants to focus on bringing the team together. We want to build on our chemistry. Our main goal is to right now is to have a winning season and compete for the TVL title. Obviously, we want to get back to the state championship game, but we can't get ahead of ourselves."
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.