Linebacker Bryton Barr returning to UMass football for final season

  • UMass linebacker Bryton Barr, shown last season, has informed the coaching staff that he will return for his senior season. Credit Thom Kendall Photography

Thursday, January 11, 2018

AMHERST — The UMass football program got good news Wednesday. Linebacker Bryton Barr informed the coaching staff that he planned to return for his senior year.

Even after a breakout season, the 23-year-old Towson transfer knew making the NFL was potentially a long shot because of his age and injury history. But Barr, who already has a degree from Towson, considered making the jump to avoid risking another injury while getting a year older.

But after talking to his family and people in the football community, he elected to return to UMass.

“In the long run, getting a free master’s education will pay off. Football doesn’t last forever,” said Barr, who is in the labor studies master’s program.

Barr, who is from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, began his career in 2012 at Towson, where he started all 11 games as a true freshman and looked to be a star in the making for the Colonial Athletic Association squad. But two games into his sophomore season, he suffered a season-ending torn right pectoral muscle and took a medical redshirt. The following year he tore his left pectoral and missed the entire 2014 season. A torn ACL cost him 2015.

He returned in 2016 and played all 11 games for Towson with 58 tackles and three sacks.

Because of his injury history, the NCAA granted him two additional years of eligibility.

With his undergraduate degree completed, he could transfer without sitting out and chose UMass.

Barr expected to be a special teams contributor. UMass’ linebackers were set, but when Shane Huber went down with a season-ending knee injury in the preseason, Barr stepped in. He played middle linebacker, his preferred position after playing outside at Towson, and led the Minutemen with 105 tackles and was second in both tackles for loss (9.0) and sacks (5.0).

Back on board, he’s hoping to be part of UMass’ first trip to postseason in the FBS.

“We have a huge opportunity to go to a bowl game. We have a good schedule. Winning is first and foremost,” Barr said. “Personally my chances to going to the next level are better with two years instead of one.”

Matt Vautour can be reached at mvautour@gazettenet.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage