Normally when you’re the son of a former NFL player, people assume you’ll eventually become a football star yourself. But Max Lane, the former New England Patriot offensive lineman, never had any such designs for his son Hunter.
“He was always heavy into soccer and I’ve always been of the attitude ‘don’t do something just because you think I want you to do it or because other people put that pressure on you, do it because you like to do it and you want to do it,’” Max said. “So I never had any expectation.”
Despite his parentage, Hunter Lane didn’t have an unusual upbringing. He’s gone to school in the Georgetown Public School system and grew up playing youth sports just like the rest of his classmates. While he occasionally went to Patriots events with his father, he doesn’t have any memories of playing catch with Tom Brady or anything like that, saying it didn’t really sink in that his father used to play for the Patriots until he was older.
But expectation or not, Hunter did eventually gravitate towards football. Now a junior at Georgetown High, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound tight end has emerged as not only an impact player for the Royals, but as a Division 1 college prospect and one of the most prolific receivers in the northeast.
Hunter first began playing organized football as an eighth grader, so he didn’t have much experience to draw from when he first arrived at Georgetown High in the fall of 2015.
Hunter’s arrival came as Georgetown was going through a transition period. New head coach Eric McCarthy had just taken over the football team months earlier, so to help ease the transition, Max offered to come on as the team’s offensive and defensive line coach, partially to be there for his son and partially to help McCarthy get settled in.
The first year was a challenge. Hunter suffered a back injury during the preseason and missed the whole year, and the team wound up stumbling to a 1-10 record. But last year, the Royals enjoyed a breakthrough, going 6-4 to post the program’s first winning record since 2008.
Hunter was a contributor to that success, catching 10 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns while also helping on defense as a starting safety. But at the same time, it was his first year of high-level organized football, and his coaches agreed that he could still improve with more work and experience.
So Hunter hit the weight room, ate well, and did whatever his coaches asked of him. The results this year have been striking.
This fall Hunter is leading the area with 1,050 receiving yards on 53 catches, averaging 19.8 yards per catch, and has also hauled down 15 receiving touchdowns. According to the Boston Globe, that’s tied for second most receiving touchdowns for any player in Greater Boston. He has also made an impact at defensive end, having switched from safety a year ago.
“Hunter has come a long way,” said Georgetown coach Eric McCarthy. “We’re still trying to work with him on the little things that will help him realize his potential, but he has about as high a ceiling as anyone I’ve ever coached.”
Though they don’t usually work directly together, Max does coach Hunter in his role as a defensive end, and at other times he’ll usually encourage the other coaches to get on Hunter if he notices something he could be doing better. Hunter said his dad is well liked on the team, even though he can be pretty tough, and McCarthy said it’s proven to be a positive arrangement for everyone involved.
“It’s an interesting dynamic, my dad was a coach in high school so I can relate to what Hunter is going through, but they keep it professional and respectful,” McCarthy said. “I think the kids enjoy having Max around, so it ends up being a good dynamic with not a lot of backlash.”
NOT QUITE LIKE DAD
While Hunter appears to have inherited quite a bit of football talent from his father, he and his dad are two very different players.
For one thing, Max Lane played seven seasons with the Patriots from 1994 to 2000 as an offensive lineman, and he was a starter on the 1996 team that played in Super Bowl XXXI, which the Patriots lost to the Green Bay Packers 35-21. At 6-foot-6, 315 pounds, Max was a hulking presence, and even to this day he remains an imposing figure physically.
While Hunter has his father’s height at 6-foot-4, he is much thinner and has become known more for his speed and catching ability. When he first started playing, Hunter said the decision to become a receiver rather than a lineman was mainly a practical one.
“I was skinnier,” Hunter said with a smile.
One thing Hunter and his father had in common was a desire to play for their hometown team. Hunter said the the thought of going to a private school like St. John’s Prep or Governor’s Academy never crossed his mind, and Max said he doesn’t feel leaving would have been the right thing to do.
“I don’t think leaving the place where you’ve gone to school from grade school and leaving to go somewhere else just for a sport is the right thing,” Max Lane said. “Georgetown is a really good school system and I look at it like a private/public school. It would be different if we were in a town that had problems at school and all of that kind of stuff, but just to leave to play a sport, I don’t think that’s the right thing.”
Whether Hunter’s at Georgetown or some other big name prep school, colleges are starting to take notice. He said he’s already received early interest from Harvard and Yale, and he has also visited both Boston College and UConn to check the schools out too.
Hunter said he doesn’t have any favorite schools yet, but that his goal is to play Division 1 college football, and if he keeps working hard, his father and coaches believe that could happen.
“I think it’s realistic,” Max said. “It’s not guaranteed. I think right now it’s not the time to be worried about that, which I tell him as a father, just focus on being a good teammate, doing what the coach asks you to do, doing good in school, lifting weights, eating healthy, that’s the stuff that matters. When the time comes things will be laid out in front of you.”
HIGH PROFILE ASSISTANTS
Max Lane isn’t the only assistant coach on Georgetown’s staff who has professional football experience. Fellow assistant Bill Adams was also an offensive line in the NFL, playing 46 games for the Buffalo Bills (1972, 1974-78). He went on to become a high school coach and spent many years as head coach at Lynnfield.
One of Max Lane’s best friends from his New England Patriots days was back-up quarterback Scott Zolak, now the color commentator for the Patriots’ radio broadcast and a personality on 98.5 The Sports Hub. The two remain tight to this day, and occasionally Lane will call into “Zolak and Bertrand” to weigh in on the topic of the day. One time a couple of weeks ago, Lane promoted Georgetown’s state tournament game against Greater Lawrence on the air.