By Bruce Wood
HANOVER -- Dartmouth's 12-person early decision recruiting class features four offensive linemen, two wide receivers, two tight end/defensive end candidates, one defensive end, one defensive back, one kicker and one quarterback.
"We like the class," said Big Green coach Buddy Teevens. "Nine of the 12 kids were recruited at a high level, so we feel like we've recruited up in that regard."
Headed Dartmouth's way in the Class of 2012 are:
Austen Fletcher, 6-2, 285 St. Anthony's, Melville, N.Y.
Fletcher's brother Alex was a high school All-American recruited to Stanford by Buddy Teevens. Austen played at perennial Long Island powerhouse St. Anthony's, which is also sending defensive back JB Andreassi to Dartmouth. According to Teevens, Fletcher chose Dartmouth over major college scholarship offers.
Teevens: "He's physical and aggressive, a powerful individual that can play three spots on the line, left, right or center. He has very good feet. He's a capable run blocker and pass protector. He's physically a well-developed individual and because of the paucity of senior and junior linemen, is one of the linemen who will have a chance to contribute early in his career."
Grant Palmer, 6-5, 250 St. Charles Prep, Columbus, Ohio
Attended the Dartmouth summer camp and opened eyes by running a 4.9 in the 40. Teevens said he was recruited by a number of major college programs. He suffered a knee injury midway through his senior year, had it repaired and returned by season's end.
Teevens: "He's recovered and we are very excited about the athleticism he will bring to the program. He's been a basketball player as well. He's capable of playing on the defensive side of the football as well, but we project him as a tall, rangy, long-armed tackle similar to Alex Rapp."
Pat Lahey, 6-3, 285 Brooks School, North Andover, Mass.
A hustler with a nasty streak according to Scout.com. He's another big, strong player and chose Dartmouth over an FCS scholarship offer according to Teevens.
Teevens: "He's an offensive guard, center-guard type. More of an inside guy. He's powerful and physically well-developed. With his strength and size inside, he has the physical potential to compete very early in his career."
Zach Wodka, 6-3, 265 Buffalo Grove, Buffalo Grove, Ill.
One of two younger brothers heading to Hanover next fall. Zach's older brother Alex will be a sophomore and a strong candidate for a starting position on the O-line in the coming season. A basketball player until this year, he planned to forego his senior year on the court to get bigger and stronger for the gridiron.
Teevens: "He's another inside guy, a center/guard. He has snapped the football and long-snapped as well. We've been pleased by Alex's development and see Zach as a physically developing guy. He's working on his strength."
Mark Dwyer, 6-4, 250 Woburn, Woburn, Mass.
Registered seven touchdown catches last fall. Could also play defensive end. Was offered a scholarship by the University of New Hampshire according to Teevens.
Teevens: He's an athletic player. He's a physical guy who could help us at a couple of different positions. His speed and athleticism are excellent. His dad played for me at Boston University."
Alex Shulman, 6-2, 205 Thayer Academy, Braintree, Mass.
Recruited as an athlete, he could play H-back, defensive end, linebacker or tight end according to Teevens. Attended the Big Green's summer camp. Another recruit who could have taken an FBS scholarship according to the coach.
Teevens: "He can plug in at a number of positions for us. We are trying to increase the athleticism of our team and he'll help with
that. He runs real well. He's a physical player and should be in a position with his speed to contribute early with his special teams
capacities. As he continues to develop he'll settle into a position yet to be determined."
Mike Reilly, 6-3, 195, Kent Denver, Englewood, Colo.
Third Kent Denver recruit in as many years following fellow wide receiver Ian Ferrell '10 and quarterback Will Deevy '11. Another
talented all-around athlete who chose Dartmouth over an FBS scholarship to Wyoming.
Teevens: "He played some QB, free safety and wide receiver. The QB was injured and they put him at that spot. He ran some option, some sprint out, some roll out, some drop back. He has played basketball in the past. He was being recruited by Cal, Northwestern and was
offered by Wyoming. He'll add size, speed, athleticism and depth at the wide receiver position right off the bat."
Brad Dornak, 6-0, 195 Westlake, Austin, Texas
Another younger brother heading to Hanover, following in the footsteps of defensive back Matt Dornak '10. Attended Dartmouth summer camp and made it to this year's UNH game on an off day for Westlake.
Teevens: "He played running back and fullback in his offense down in Austin. We were impressed with him at wide receiver when we shifted him over in our camp. With Matt we know something about him from a bloodline standpoint. He's a tough kid who plays at a high level. His team is a perennial contender. Initially our thought process is a wide receiver slot. He's another good athlete and a real good student."
Conner Kempe, 6-4, 225, The Benjamin School, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
A highly regarded recruit who chose Dartmouth over Harvard and Penn in the Ivies and scholarship offers from a handful of FBS schools
according to Teevens. Recovered from a devastating kiteboarding injury to play this year. Hurt his shoulder but came back and played
at the end of the season.
Teevens: "One of the top-ranked QB's nationally. He was ranked top 50 by Rivals. He's an athletic, drop-back quarterback with good numbers. He has the capability of executing all phases of the offense we've been running. He's mobile enough to do some option work. He's capable as a drop-back guy and throws well on the run. My favorite line about him is he certainly has proven he can take a hit."
Connor Phillips, 6-4, 235, Winston Churchill, Potomac, Md.
Another high school standout who attracted the attention of FBS schools and chose Dartmouth over FCS scholarship offers. Size is reminiscent of Cullen Gilchrist, an all-Ivy pick this past season for the Big Green.
Teevens: "He'll add size and athleticism. He's bigger than what we've been playing with. He's a young guy who is still physically maturing, but he's an athletic individual who is going to be a good player for us."
JB Andreassi, 5-11, 185, St. Anthony's, Melville, N.Y.
Joins St. Anthony's teammate Austen Fletcher in heading north to Hanover. Another future Big Green player who got his first taste of Dartmouth in the summer. Could play on the corner or line up at safety.
Teevens: "He's a very capable cover guy. We had him in camp and really liked him, and he's excited about us. That's a spot we are kind of light at with two vacancies at the corner positions, so he'll add depth and speed. He's a physically mature young man so we feel he'll be in a position to help us out there."
Foley Schmidt, 5-8, 180, St. Thomas Academy, Mendota Heights, Minn.
Another recruit with connections to Dartmouth as he follows former teammate Tim McManus to Hanover. Succeeded McManus as the St. Thomas quarterback but attracted major college attention as a placekicker according to Teevens.
Teevens: "He's a football/hockey guy and a very solid kicker who was recruited by a number of I-A programs. He wasn't offered because what they try to do at that level with kickers is get them to walk on, but he was offered at a lower level. He's a solid kicker and kickoff guy. I like the fact that he's an athletic guy. He was their starting quarterback as well as their kicker and was a national level soccer player. He's a defenseman on the hockey team. He's a very capable guy
at a position where we graduated the starter and should compete for the job. He'll probably get a look at punter also because that's been inconsistent."
Teevens on the recruiting class so far:
"We have 12 guys. My thought was we'd try for 12 to 14. The operating number is 30, and we could go a little higher or lower. So we are looking at 18 or so more spots in the spring.
"This helps define more accurately what our needs are. We'd like to get another quarterback. We'd like to get some more speed in the secondary. Defensive line, we'd like to get a few more. Some tackle types on the offensive line. Some taller young men. We've got a good number of running backs returning, but we are looking for a talented guy who could help in that regard."