Friday, February 3, 2012
Highlights from Everett football signing day
By Brendan Hall
EVERETT, Mass. -- Two days after the first day high school seniors were allowed to sign a National Letter of Intent, Everett High quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso announced at a noon press conference in the school's reception room of his college intentions before a crowd of nearly 50 servicemen, local selectmen, teachers, teammates and media.
DiBiaso -- a two-time ESPN Boston All-Stater, this year's ESPN Boston Mr. Football, and the state's all-time leader in touchdown passes (103) -- will pursue a post-graduate year at Philips Exeter Academy, before enrolling at Dartmouth for the 2013 season. He follows in the footsteps of his father and head coach John, who did a post-graduate year at Exeter in 1975 before playing four years at Tufts University.
The rest of Everett's seniors were honored, and revealed their college plans. Linebacker Buck McCarthy signed a National Letter of Intent with Stetson University for baseball last November; defensive end Ralph Jonathas, an ESPN Boston All-State selection, was the only senior absent, as he was on an official visit to the University of New Haven.
Here are some highlights with interviews conducted with both DiBiaso's, along with linebacker Vondell Langston, another All-State selection who signed with UMass on Wednesday.
QUARTERBACK JONATHAN DIBIASO On his decision: "I've had my mind made up for a while, and then last night I was just having second thoughts. I don't know, just weighing both options, I've liked Dartmouth since day one. I don't know, not so much making the wrong decision, but I think just factoring in that I'm leaving home was a big factor. I've been in Everett my entire life, and I think that was just [played a factor] when coming into the decision, but both schools I considered are great schools and I believe I made the right decision for myself, to put myself in a great position for the rest of my life."
On pursuing a post-graduate year first: "They [Dartmouth] said it was up to me, that I could have came this year and contributed, battle for a No. 1 spot, and where Ivy Leagues don't have redshirt years, that I was more than welcome to do a P.G. year. That's what I took into a factor. Going into an Ivy League school, I know the academics are going to be very tough, so going to a prep school like Exeter, which is known for their academics, I think will prepare me very well. And where I'm still so young for a high school senior, athletically I'm going to mature more and grow as a player. And it's just another year of playing football, which I like."
Where the coaching staff sees him fitting in the system: "Basically, they just said I bring both to the table. My stats show the passing, but I'm a good enough athlete where we're still going to be able to run some option, spread it out, they want to adapt to more of a spread offense and I'm more than happy to be a part of that. I mean, I think it's a great situation for me. The recruiting class coming in, I met them all, they're a great group of players, and I think the talent is really going up.
"I think the program itself is going in a great direction, and I think they're going to compete, and I think they're going to win some Ivy League championships, so I feel lucky to be a part of that."
On if there's any disappointment that some of his Division 1 FBS feelers didn't pan out: "I mean, being a player you always have expectations to do the highest possible thing. So in the end, if I weigh both options, coming out with an Ivy League degree, you can't go wrong with that. The level of competition is still Division 1, so I mean I'm still going to be playing against great players.
"No matter what, if I have aspirations and I'm good enough after four years to play at the next level, they'll find you. Jay Fiedler, he's a legend up there [at Dartmouth]. And [Ryan] Fitzpatrick is from Harvard, so I mean, I don't think you can go wrong with the decision I made. I'm happy with it."
EVERETT HEAD COACH JOHN DIBIASO If he influenced Jonathan going to Philips Exeter: "No, I let him decide. He spoke with Joe O'Donnell, and Joe was the one who swayed him that the prep school was a good idea. He spoke with [former Everett running back] Gennaro Leo too, who spent a year there also."
On Jonathan's decision to do a post-graduate year first: "They [Exeter] are excited, it's a great school, it's the No. 1 ranked prep school in the country, so it's a great opportunity for him. It's an avenue to the Ivy League. He could have gone to Dartmouth and some other schools this year, but we felt that extra year of maturity and getting bigger and stronger would help him...Exeter was the one and only prep school we were looking at.
"A lot of people repeat in the eighth grade. We had decided early on that we were going to do it at the end, rather than have him repeat the eighth grade year and be an older senior. He just turned 18 last week. We thought this was the best of both worlds. He gets to go to high school with his friends, and then go to an elite prep school for a year, then go to an Ivy League school."
How hard Jonathan's decision was: "It was tough. He was up until 3 a.m. last night. He was talking to coaches last night, he was talking to different schools last night, it was very tough. It's been an ordeal and a half, because there's no bad choice. UPenn, Dartmouth, Harvard, there was no bad choice."
How the Dartmouth coaching staff sees Jonathan fitting in: "They were very excited when we told them last night. We didn't even tell them we were sure, but said it was a possibility. They're probably finding out from you, like everybody else. They're excited, they're looking forward to having him. They would have taken him this year, they said, or if he wanted to go to prep school, my wife and I and Jonathan jointly decided that a year of prep would be it.
"They [Dartmouth] ran the ball a lot this year, they had Nick Schweiger. They're starting to transition into more of a passing team this year, and they like the fact that Jonathan can both run and throw. That's what they articulated to us, they were looking for someone who could not only throw the ball in the pocket, but be mobile and run with the ball. And the fact he could do both attracted him to them. They actually came to him last spring and said they wanted him, and they've stayed with that the whole way. I think that was another reason he made the choice."
LINEBACKER VONDELL LANGSTON (UMASS SIGNEE) On the incoming recruiting class at UMass: "From what I heard, it was a good class. The guys I met while I was up there on my official, they're a good group of guys, so I'm excited to get the season started."
What he'll be working on between now and the start of camp: "Right now, what they've been talking about is finishing up academically, and just lifting. They should be sending me the packet they send out for workouts, but it hasn't came yet, so I've been doing whatever."
What the coaching staff's plan is for him: "They told me they like me at 'Will' linebacker, which is outside. The defensive coordinator told me he watched my offensive highlight tape along with my defensive one, and he told me he liked the paths I chose, my sense of direction on the field, knowing exactly where I'm at on the field. It's going to translate over well to the defensive side, because being a linebacker you have to weave through traffic sometimes to get to the ballcarrier. So he said he really liked the way I moved."
His reaction to Jonathan DiBiaso's decision: "I was shocked. I thought he was going to Harvard, that's just me personally. But you know, he shocked me, and I'm sure he shocked other people. But he knows what's best for himself. Best of luck to him in the future."
Has he visited Antonio's Pizza? "My host [Chad Hunte, from Brookline] was supposed to take me there, but he forgot about me, so I ended up going back to the hotel. He forgot about me, my own host! (laughing) But no, he didn't do it intentionally though. I was like 'You forgot to take me' and he goes, 'Yeah, I'm sorry', the next morning he said, 'I'll take you tonight', but he ended up getting Domino's instead."