Boston High School: Harvard

Dexter's Ryan Donato commits to Harvard

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
Dexter School hockey junior center Ryan Donato announced his college decision Monday, giving a verbal commitment to Harvard, joining his father Ted's Crimson.

It is anticipated Donato's commitment is for the 2015-16 season.

A 1996 birthdate, the 6-foot, 174-pound Scituate native was the highest ranked prep school player in New England in the NHL Central Scouting's Midterm Report released earlier this month. Donato ranked 54th among North American skaters.

Last year, Donato posted 29-31-60 totals in 28 games played at Dexter.

"He expects himself to do great things every time he's on the ice, that's the sign of a great player," said Dexter head coach Dan Donato, Ryan's uncle. "I've been really fortunate to have coached three players that have gone on to the NHL, but in some ways, Ryan's on another planet. I truly believe his best hockey is ahead of him."

Donato also fielded offers from Boston College and Boston University, before choosing the Crimson -- both his father's alma mater and where he's coached for the last 10 seasons.

"I think with his father being there, it ended up being a nice possibility for him," Dan Donato said. "I'm so happy for him. [Harvard] is the ultimate pinnacle of where high school hockey players look to go, especially in the Boston area. I'm not knocking any other schools, they're terrific schools, but this was a special opportunity for him."

Roxbury Latin announces signing class

February, 10, 2013
Six student athletes were honored at the Roxbury Latin School Wednesday on National Letter of intent signing day, including BC-bound quarterback Mackay Lowrie.

Last season, Lowrie was ISL MVP, NEPSAC Division C Player of the Year, a member of the All-State 26 team, and a selection for the Mass Shriners All-Star game after passing for 2,311 yards and 35 touchdowns. Lowrie finished his career with 4,739 yards and 61 touchdown passes (both school and ISL records).

Myers, who will play at Bentley University, was an two-time All-ISL selection and was also selected to the Mass Shriners All-Star game. He finished the season with 50 receptions for 782 yards and 15 touchdown receptions.

Also signing his NLI was Foxes soccer standout Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, who will play at Harvard. The Bellingham resident ended up with 13 goals and nine assists on the season. Wheeler-Omuinu has been a member of the Mass Olympic Development team and the US Soccer Federation Region 1 team for 4 years. He was First Team All-League and All-State last year (as a junior) and was also an All-New England selection by the NSCAA.

Roxbury Latin’s committed collegiate athletes are:

Mackay Lowrie (Foxborough), Football – Boston College
Sean Myers (Foxborough), Football – Bentley
Patrick Barry (West Roxbury), Soccer – Washington & Lee
Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu (Bellingham), Soccer – Harvard
Brandon Bowman (Foxborough), Lacrosse – Air Force
Will O’Sullivan (Needham), Baseball – Wesleyan

Recruiting Notes: Frenzy leading to Signing Day

February, 1, 2013
The second half of January featured a flurry of activity with regard to New England players committing to colleges. Some of the notable commitments:

Recruiting Notebook"Everett High School wide receiver/defensive back Jakarrie Washington to Wisconsin: Recruiting writers were scrambling last week when word leaked that Washington would be joining the Badgers, since he was relatively unknown outside of Massachusetts. He had no other scholarship offers at the time of his commitment. What Washington does have is speed. He has reportedly run the 40 in 4.4 seconds. He's also versatile. He caught 33 passes for 439 yards and nine touchdowns last season, when he also carried the ball 75 times for 697 yards and 15 touchdowns.

"St. John's Prep running back Alex Moore to Pennsylvania: Many thought Moore would join teammate Lucas Bavaro at Dartmouth, but he selected Penn – the first school to make him an offer. Moore, perhaps the best two-way player in Massachusetts last season, helped St. John's Prep win the EMass Division I Super Bowl and claimed the third annual ESPN Boston “Mr. Football” award, which is given annually to the best player in the state. Moore, who will likely play on the defensive side of the ball in college, made 67 tackles (five for loss), recorded four interceptions and forced four fumbles during his senior season. He also rushed for 857 yards and 14 touchdowns, and caught 20 passes for 455 yards and five touchdowns.

"Windsor (Conn.) defensive end Cole Ormsby to Connecticut: Ormsby committed to UMass in June, but switched that commitment last week. Ormsby led the state with 17 sacks last season, when Hand defeated Windsor 23-6 in the Class L championship game. He completed his senior season with 85 tackles.


Wednesday is National Signing Day, and ESPNU will have 10 hours of coverage beginning at 9 a.m. At least 17 of the nation's top uncommitted recruits are expected to announce their college decision live during the telecast. Rece Davis and Dari Nowkhah will host the coverage from Charlotte, N.C.

ESPNU will have reporters at the following schools: Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Ohio State, Texas, Texas AM and USC. The station will also air a two-hour preview show on Tuesday beginning at 5 p.m.


Nine of New England's top 10 recruits (as rated by ESPN) have verbally committed to college programs. Six of the 10 players are from Connecticut, and the four others are from Massachusetts. Here's where those players will be playing next season:

John Montelus, OG (Everett High School): Notre Dame
Maurice Hurst Jr., DT (Xaverian Brothers): Michigan
Tim Boyle, QB (Xavier): Boston College
Noel Thomas, ATH (St. Luke's): Connecticut
John Van Allen, OLB (Avon Old Farms): Harvard
Sadiq Olanrewaju, OT (Salisbury School): Virginia
Cory Jasudowich, ILB (Cheshire Academy): Connecticut
Tevin Montgomery, OT (Tabor Academy): Boston College
Jack McDonald, OG (BC High): Virginia.

Note: Thomas, who played for his father at St. Luke's in New Canaan, Conn., enrolled at UConn for the spring semester. Thomas played wide receiver, quarterback and running back in prep school, and finished his career with 4,888 yards of offense and 53 touchdowns. He is expected to play wide receiver in college.


Michael Dulac, Vermont's Gatorade Player of the Year for the 2012 season, has committed to play for Division I Bryant University. The Bulldogs compete in the Northeast Conference.

Dulac, a 6-foot-3, 270-pound lineman, led Hartford High School (White River Jct.) to three consecutive Division I championships. He started on each side of the ball in all 43 games of his high school career.

Dulac reportedly had offers from eight schools, and selected Bryant over Dartmouth.


Proctor Academy fullback/linebacker Odaine Franklyn committed to the University of New Hampshire on Thursday.

Franklin made 48 tackles last season. He also rushed for 178 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. Proctor finished the season with an 8-1 record.

Franklyn, who was recruited to play linebacker, was a three-year starter for White Plains (N.Y.) High School before he enrolled at Proctor Academy. He had scholarship offers from Akron and Albany coming out of high school.

Recruiting information regarding high school or prep school players in New England can be sent to Roger Brown at

Malden Catholic's Serino dies at 63

October, 15, 2012
Chris Serino, a multi-sport standout in his high school career at Saugus and most recently the athletic director and hockey head coach at Malden Catholic, died on Monday, Lancers assistant coach Phil Antonelli says.

Serino, 63, had been battling throat cancer. He was a three-sport standout (baseball, football, hockey) at Saugus High, where his No. 5 hockey jersey is retired at the Kasabuski Arena Ice Skating Rink. His hockey coaching resume included stops at Northfield Mount Hermon, Harvard and the University of New Hampshire, in addition to seven seasons at Merrimack College. He took over the Merrimack bench in 1998, becoming the sixth head coach in program history. He also served as athletic director in his tenure at Merrimack.

Serino also served as baseball head coach at UNH.

After stepping down from both posts at Merrimack, Serino landed in the same positions at Malden Catholic. There, he led the Lancers to a Super 8 tournament state title in 2010-11. He stepped back from the hockey program for the 2011-12 season in early November after being diagnosed with throat cancer. The Lancers capped a repeat performance last year as Super 8 champions, dedicating the season to their ailing coach.

"The thing about Chris was that he was selfless," Antonelli said Monday evening. "Everything he did was with the kids in mind. I didn't matter if you were a hockey player, or just student at the school, he tried to help as many people as he could. That's the legacy he'll leave behind."

Funeral services will be announced at a later time.

When reached for comment, former Lancers captain Mike Vecchione, now with the Tri-City Storm of the USHL, offered memories of his former coach:

"Coach Serino was an exceptional man that cared more for the game than anyone I know," Vecchione wrote. "He was passionate about his players and I'm thankful to have had the chance to play for him.

"He was more than just a coach to me; he was someone I could go to for anything and I'll miss him a great deal. He taught me never to give up no matter what the circumstances and is the architect behind my success. I'll never forget what he did for me and I love him."
Phillips Andover hockey center Eddie Ellis has committed to Harvard for the 2014-15 season, his coach Dean Boylan confirmed.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound Burlington, Mass. native was recently drafted by Waterloo in the USHL Futures Draft. He tallied 19 goals and 23 assists for 42 points last season at Phillips Andover.

"Coach [Ted] Donato will be getting an excellent hockey player for his program," Boylan said. "He will also be receiving a terrific young man. Eddie enters this season as a two-year captain for Andover, which speaks to his leadership abilities and his character. We are very proud of him."

This story was first reported by Mike McMahon of the Eagle-Tribune.
The NHL Draft commences tonight in Pittsburgh and there is a host of New England-based high school, prep school and junior league players who hope hear their name called in the next two days.

Sam Kurker
Scott BarbozaMalden Catholic forward and ESPN Boston Mr. Hockey award winner Brendan Collier could be a sleeper in this weekend's NHL draft.
More than 20 local players were represented on the NHL Central Scouting’s final draft rankings, released in April. So we took the task to the Northeast regional scouts of an Eastern and a Western Conference team to give their evaluations of some of New England’s best and brightest.

The region is moving into somewhat of a renaissance. Folks might like to wax about the good ole days, but there’s plenty of talent to be found around the local ponds right now. That fact was not lost on Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, who earlier this week during his annual pre-draft media availability, spoke about this year’s bumper crop.

“It is fairly deep,” Chiarelli said. “It’s the deepest that I’ve seen since I’ve been here and that’s a good sign. It’s a good sign that the registration numbers – usually, it means they’re going up – and obviously the quality of players for the NHL is increasing, too.”

So here’s a look at some of the local skaters to watch out for and their scouting evaluation.

(Players appear by NHL Central Scouting ranking among North American skaters.)

27. Cristoval "Boo" Nieves, Kent School, C
Scout’s take: “He’s an incredible skater, a tall, rangy kid. He’s more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer and finisher, but that’s what his role is, a playmaking-center man. His skating ability is as good or as close to as good as you’ll find in this draft.”

36. Sam Kurker, St. John's Prep, RW
Scout’s take: “He’s got great size, a big strong kid. He’s a great straight-line skater up and down the wing. [He’s got a] big, hard shot and she shows a willingness to play in the hard areas in front of the net, in the corners on the wall.”

54. Brian Hart, Phillips Exeter, RW
Scout’s take: “He’s got a huge shot. He’s real strong on the wall. He’s a very strong skater, in flight, he can really move.

Scout’s take on his soccer prowess as New Hampshire’s reigning Gatorade Player of the Year: “You know that overall athletes usually make the best players in whatever sport they decide on.”

69. Chris Calnan, Noble & Greenough, RW
Scout’s take: “Got better and better as the year went on. He started to play physical and use the body, which I think is everybody was waiting to see. He’s got a bomb of a shot. And he’s got a commitment to BC now, that was nice to see.”

Chiarelli’s take: “I mean there are some good kids in the prep leagues and the Calnan kid’s a good player – a big strong kid – very physically mature, power-forward type.”

76. Danny O'Regan, St. Sebastian's, C
Scout’s take: “He’s a smaller, undersized forward, but plays with a ton of hockey sense. He’s very strong on his skates and plays with a little bit of jam. His intelligence and hockey sense really stick out.”

77. Jimmy Vesey, South Shore Kings/ Belmont Hill, LW
Scout’s take: “The best player in the area. I don’t care where it’s at, 100 points is a 100 points [scored with the Kings last season]. He grew a few inches and he’s just coming into his own. Harvard stole him. BC and BU were sleepwalking on him. He slid through draft last year, but I thought someone would take a shot. Someone’s going to be happy with him this year.”

Chiarelli’s take: “You’ve got in the EJ [Eastern Junior Hockey League], you’ve got the Vesey kid’s a good player. He’s second time through the draft, but very skilled, had a breakout year there, can really make some really good plays with the puck, whether it’s shooting or passing.”

79. Devin Tringale, Lawrence Academy, LW
Scout’s take: “Talk about a vastly underrated player. I think he’s going to go later than he should, but someone’s going to get a steal in this draft. He’s going to be a big asset at Harvard when he gets there.”

88. Frank Vatrano, USA U-18 (East Longmeadow, Mass.), C
Scout’s take: “If you were to put him in the Catholic Conference or prep school hockey, he’s a 50-goal scorer. He’s got an NHL shot right now, he’s got such a quick release. He’s very hard to knock off the puck. He’s become a very good hockey player [with Team USA].”

99. Doyle Somerby, Kimball Union, D
Scout’s take: “He’s got great size, as a forward turned D-man, so he’s a pretty good puck mover. He’s more of a stay-at-home defenseman, but a big, rangy kid. Good smooth stride for a kid his size and good speed in flight.”

101. Adam Gilmour, Noble & Greenough, RW
Scout’s take: “He’s got high skill, sets guys up. He’s going to get stronger. He’s a tall lanky kid. He’ll go to BC and that’s his type of game, playing a type of run-and-gun game, he’ll do fine there.”

143. Brendan Collier, Malden Catholic, LW
Scout’s take: “We hear this about him, he’s just a pure hockey player. Goal line to goal line, he works so hard, got a good compete level. I think he’s going to be a great college player. He’s got some potential because he just works so hard.”

Chiarelli’s take: “A couple of interesting one’s, the Collier kid, [he is] kind of under the radar a little bit, but a real gritty kid.”

177. Matthew Grzelcyk, USA U-18 (Charlestown, Mass.), D
Scout’s take: "I love him. His hockey IQ is up there with kids who are taken in the top 15 in the draft. If had to pick one kid to make the right play getting out of the zone, it’s him. He thinks the game. He finds the seams. He’s a hockey player. I think he’ll be running the PP at BU last year. He’s that David Warsofsky, Matt Hunwick type of player.”

Chiarelli’s take: “You’ve got some kids that kind of went to the U.S. Development Program but are from the area. The Grzelcyk kid’s a very good, mobile defenseman. He’s later on down but he’s got a good head on his shoulders.”

Picked up pieces from BC High signing day

February, 2, 2012
BOSTON -- Perhaps the busiest local school on Wednesday's National Letter of Intent signing day was BC High. Eagles athletes representing five different sports gathered to give their John Hancock's to athletic programs ranging from the D1 to D3 levels, from the Big East (UConn) to the Ivy League (Harvard, Penn and Yale) to artsy Boston-located schools (yes, indeed, Emerson College has athletics).

Here's a smattering of observations from a couple of Eagles gridiron standouts who put pen to paper after a Division 1 Super Bowl season:

On what led him to Harvard:
“It’s was all about the coaching and how comfortable I felt there. It’s the family of the team that I felt in the locker room with them, compared to what I felt at BC, not that I didn’t feel welcomed, but it just wasn’t the place for me.”

On what impact former BC High teammate Obum Obukwelu had on decision: “I definitely talked to him during the process. I stayed with the family of an offensive tackle at the school, but when I was there for my official, I spent a lot of time with Obum, coming from BC High, he’s one of my good friends. I’ve spent a lot of time with him there and he loves it. He had a big influence on me, but mainly it was my family and going to the UPenn game, when I got to see them raise the Ivy League championship trophy, that was a deciding factor. … I wanted to be a part of that.”

On whether his and WR Gordon McLeod's commitment was coincidence:
“No, we didn’t plan that together, not at all. But to have that connection going into college, that’s going to be amazing. To have the last four years together, and he’s one of my best friends on the team, that’s just going to translate into a better chemistry at the next level.”

Prep's Colin Blackwell drafted by Sharks

June, 27, 2011
St. John's Prep center Colin Blackwell, ESPN Boston's inaugural Mr. Hockey Award recipient, was selected by the San Jose Sharks in the seventh round (194th overall) of the NHL Entry Draft on Saturday.

It came somewhat as a surprise for the Harvard-bound skater.

"I was home watching the draft throughout the day," Blackwell said. "But I was in the other room when I got picked.

"All of a sudden, my girlfriend started screaming from in front of the television, telling me to get in there. It was amazing."

The 5-foot-8, 164-pound forward is slated to play for head coach Ted Donato as a true freshman next year.

In 2010-11, the Eagles captain and North Andover resident led Prep to its first Super Eight tournament final appearance and was named the Catholic Conference’s Most Valuable Player.

Blackwell tallied 33 goals and 33 assists for 66 points and was a +42 during the regular season. He also added seven goals and nine assists for 16 points in five games to lead all scorers in the Division 1A tournament.

In the run-up to the draft, Blackwell had met with the Sharks scouting department for an interview. He said he'd also talked to the L.A. Kings and St. Louis Blues.

"This is the highlight to my high school experience," Blackwell said. "It's such a great honor, but this is the beginning of a new chapter in my life."

Blackwell is not the only local tie on the Sharks' present roster, which also boasts Essex's Benn Ferriero as well as St. John's Prep alum John McCarthy.

"It's great to join an orgiazation like [the Sharks]. It shows that there's talent in New England, in Massachusetts, and we can play."

While reflecting on the achievement of being drafted, Blackwell was only looking ahead.

"This is just the beginning. There's a lot of hard work to put in now [at Harvard]. Getting drafted, this is just one goal, now it's time to move on to the next one."

Player Perspective: Jimmy Bitter

May, 11, 2011
Deerfield lacrosseRyan Kilian for Deerfield Academy's Jimmy Bitter is ranked the No. 2 attack by ESPN, and will join his brother Billy next year at UNC.

Deerfield Academy attack Jimmy Bitter is no stranger to lacrosse success, as he is the youngest of six college lacrosse playing siblings. Jimmy’s older brother Billy is currently a two-time First Team All-American attack at North Carolina, where Jimmy will play next season. His eldest brother Matt played at Navy from 2006-09.

Bitter is the No. 2 ranked attack in the Class of 2011 by ESPN RISE, and No. 4 overall. The Manhasset, N.Y., native has been instrumental in Deerfield’s success, as they are currently ranked No. 6 in the country in the latest Under Armor/Inside Lacrosse poll. caught up with Jimmy recently, as Deerfield hits the home stretch in its season.

Q: Being undefeated (11-0) and a top-ranked team in the country, can you talk about expectations and goals for your team?
A: "As a team, our goal is to win each game, taking it one game at a time. We have to stay disciplined, focused and make sure we do not look ahead or past teams. We must play each game like it is our last game of the season."

Q: How was last season for you both personally, with the injury (Bitter missed six games with a broken thumb), and overall as a team?
A: Last season was a tough season for me. I got hurt early on in the season and missed a major chunk of the schedule because of this. Then when I returned, I was never able to fully play at 100 percent, which was also frustrating. As for the team, I thought we had a great season, with many of our young players stepping up when the team suffered injuries. If it was not for one loss to Salisbury, who played a great game, we would have won it all."

Q: Talk a little about your summer lacrosse experience? How does summer help with improving your game?
A: "Over the summer I played for FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes), the Under Armour Long Island team, and in the Warrior 40 game. FCA is a great experience because we play top level lacrosse along with learning how to reach out to God along the way. It was quite an eye opener to learn how to feel comfortable talking about my faith with others.

"The Under Armour games and the Warrior 40 were both incredible experiences as well. In both events I was able to play with and compete against the best players in the country. This was very helpful in the development in my game because not only was I competing against great talent but because there was such a wide range of players from diverse places I was able to learn new styles of play and set higher goals for myself."

Q: Can you talk about your family and what kinds of advice you get about the game and what to look forward to in college next year?
A: "My brothers were all great players and I always looked up to them as I grew up and watched them play. I always tried to incorporate what they did into my game, and I'm still doing that today. As for advice, my family has always been supportive by coming to my games and driving me to all those youth practices and events. In many ways I was blessed to be the youngest, because each of my siblings has had input and enabled me to absorb something they did well. My oldest brother, Ward, was and still is one of the best runners I have ever seen. Matt went to Navy to play lacrosse, and has gone on further to become a Navy Seal. He taught me the meaning of toughness and true-grit. Billy is known for his bursts of speed and dodging. While growing up in Manhasset, I spent many days and nights with my brothers in our backyard. Sometimes I was shooting and often they had me all suited up and they shot on me. I think I am a better shooter today because of it. Also, if they saw anything I needed to work on they wouldn't hesitate to let me know."

Q: Can you talk a little about how the recruiting process went and the main factors that went in to the decision?
A: "The recruiting process was a very difficult one. My mind was not always set on UNC, I was considering schools such as Duke, Hopkins, Harvard, Virginia, Notre Dame, and Navy, however after discussing it with my family they and I both felt UNC was the best fit for me. I absolutely loved everything about the school from the town, the coaches, the players, the academics, etc. UNC also did very well by Billy and the entire UNC package is almost too good to be true. I can't wait to get to work down there."

Q: Can you talk about the major influences in your life that have shaped you on and off the field?
A: "The single greatest influence in my life is and has always been my family. As I mentioned earlier, we would play for hours in our backyard together. If I had to choose someone from my family, it would have to be my Dad. He had been my coach ever since I could remember. As a coach he was very knowledgeable about the game of lacrosse, he was an all-American at Boston College, so I was always listening to what he had to say. It's no different now either, he comes to many of my Deerfield games and gives me plays and pointers from the sidelines. He has taught me to plan ahead of games and think during the game about what is happening or how to counter the opponent’s efforts. Obviously off the field, my father was my mentor, but my Mom was the best care giver I could ask for. I think both my parents and my siblings are the reasons that I can be so confident about making sure I am making good, sound decisions in life. I also want to give credit to my uncle, Kevin Cook, as the other big coaching influence I can reflect upon."

Q: Can you talk about your overall experience at Deerfield Academy?
A: "Deerfield has been an amazing place to go to school. Deerfield was my number one choice of all boarding schools from the start. Personally, when deciding boarding schools I couldn't think of any negatives about Deerfield, it has great academics, a very friendly environment, and a top athletic program. Deerfield has been even better than I could have hoped. The school has taught me to push myself academically and grow as a lacrosse player. Coach [Chip] Davis and Coach [Jan] Flaska are very knowledgeable about the game of lacrosse and really make an effort to improve each player. Also, Deerfield promotes playing multiple sports as a way to develop other talents. I was able to play soccer and basketball, which for me were very beneficial to my lacrosse game."

Q: Who are the best long sticks that you have played or will play against this year with Deerfield?
A: "I would probably have to say the toughest defenders I play against are the ones I go against every day in practice. Will Swindell (Brown), Bobby Osgood (Dartmouth), and Mike Mueller (Dartmouth), are all tremendous players and know a lot of my tendencies making it very difficult to go against them."

Q: What other sports do you enjoy watching or playing?
A: "If there was sport I wish I could play better it would probably be soccer or skiing, both are great sports. I grew up watching my siblings excel at both of those sports but because of playing so much lacrosse I haven't had the time to ski as much as I would like to."

Q: What do you like doing in your spare time?
A: "In my spare time I'm mostly just hanging out with friends, maybe playing a pickup game of something of that nature."

Billerica's LaSpada leaning towards...Harvard?

April, 22, 2011
ESPN's Roger Brown checks in today with talented Billerica junior quarterback Nick LaSpada, who has some surprising top choices from what is expected to be a long line of suitors in a few short months.

LaSpada earned a spot on ESPNBoston's inaugural MIAA All-State Team last fall, after a season in which he accounted for more than 3,800 yards of offense and 40 touchdowns for an Indians team that sputtered to a 5-6 campaign after a hot start. And with it, his list of Division 1 interest has grown, from Notre Dame to the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC.

Currently LaSpada, who wants to major in criminal justice, plans on attending camps at Boston College, Maryland and Harvard this summer. And perhaps to some peoples' surprise, it's the latter of that group where LaSpada says he is leaning towards right now.

"Harvard has been coming on strong lately," LaSpada told Brown. "I’m really interested in them. I’d definitely say Harvard is my top choice right now. They said [admission] shouldn’t be a problem as long as I have good SAT scores. I’m going to take those in May."

LaSpada -- who was the first sophomore in history to be named the state's Gatorade Player of the Year, in 2009 -- also told Brown that BC could move to the top of the list if they were to offer, as he prefers to stay close to home.

"They’re looking at me as a quarterback, but also talked about me playing slot or safety,” LaSpada told Brown. "They asked me if I have a preference and I told them I don’t."

Duxbury's Webber taking visits

April, 20, 2011
ESPN's Roger Brown checks in today with Duxbury junior wide receiver Don Webber, who is taking visits to three Division 1 schools in Virginia this week.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Webber -- who reportedly runs a 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds -- is set to visit Richmond, Virginia and William & Mary this week. He told Brown he was at Boston College's spring game last weekend, and says he will "definitely" be attending camps at BC, Brown and Harvard.

This past fall, Webber set a school receiving record with 52 catches for 921 yards and 10 touchdowns, for an average of 17.7 yards per catch, as the Green Dragons went 13-0 and captured the Division 2A Super Bowl title. He could be in for an even bigger season this fall.

"He has size and speed that you don't see too often," Duxbury head coach Dave Maimaron told Brown. "Great pair of hands and he's getting better at his route running. I know he has some interest in Cal and that he's sent stuff to Northwestern. He's just looking for a school that offers a good education.

"He's getting a lot of Ivy League interest, but a lot of [FBS] schools are starting to show interest as well. He's getting mail from all the Top 20 schools in the country. I think he's gonna have a tough decision to make."

For more recruiting updates on New England's top high school football talent, be sure to check out Brown's blog.

Barnstable's Crook drawing interest

April, 13, 2011
ESPN's Roger Brown checks in today on his recruiting blog with Barnstable quarterback D.J. Crook, who has suffered a series of setbacks since the end of football season and is still waiting on his first scholarship offer.

Crook, who threw for 2,858 yards and 33 touchdowns for the 7-4 Red Raiders last season, came down with mononucleosis at the start of basketball season. Upon his return, he broke his hand in practice.

"He's back throwing, and he's put weight back on," said Doug Crook, D.J.'s father, who stepped down as head coach after the season. "He's 6-foot-2 and a solid 200. He's heard from a few other schools like Texas A&M and UNC, and just about all the [Ivy League schools] have expressed interest in him. He still wants to get out and visit a few more schools. We're trying to figure out which ones."

D.J. took unofficial visits to UConn and Brown earlier this month. He also plans to attend the spring games this month at Brown, UConn and Harvard, as well as the Elite 11 Camp at Penn State.

"He's put himself in a good position athletically and academically," Doug told Brown. "Hopefully pretty soon he'll have some options."

For more recruiting updates on New England's top high school football talent, be sure to check out Brown's blog.

C-C's Steinroeder makes noise with his cool

April, 11, 2011
CONCORD, Mass. -- Meet Alex Steinroeder off the court and you will find a quiet, unassuming young man just going about his business.

Meet him on the tennis court, well ... that’s a completely different story.

The Concord-Carlisle senior has captured the last two Div. 1 MIAA state individual tennis titles, and has been an integral part of team state championships in 2008 and 2009. That success got the college recruiters calling, with Harvard ultimately winning the services of arguably the state’s best high school tennis player.

You won’t hear a grunt, a groan or even an extreme outburst of emotion as you see him play, but that doesn’t mean a fiery, quiet assassin isn’t waiting for that bright yellow ball to come in his direction.

“I’ve learned how to stay calm on the court,” said the 6-foot-1 Steinroeder. “A big part of it is mental. If you can control that aspect, then you will be a lot better off.”

Steinroeder began learning the game with his father, Bill Steinroeder, in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

The young Steinroeder, who said he learned his sense of calmness from his father, moved his way through USTA-sanctioned tournaments in New England, and when his family moved to Massachusetts, the name Steinroeder was well-known in the local tennis circuit.

So well known that Patriots’ head coach Alex Spence inserted the then-freshman into the No. 1 singles spot on a very experienced squad.

“He came in a real serious tennis player,” said Spence. “He was top three in his age group. Just spending the season with him freshman year, you saw how dedicated he was to the game.”

But being a new student, in a new state, on a new team and taking over the No. 1 spot brought a little extra pressure.

“I kind of felt bad in some ways,” said the humble Steinroeder. “There were seniors who played No. 1 for two or three seasons. I came in at No. 1 and I felt the pressure to perform. It helped that we had such a strong team that year. It never really came down to my match.”

Steinroeder played in the top singles all season long, and helped the Patriots win the team title that season.

However, the skinny, 5-foot-7 freshman got a lesson that has stuck with him to this day in the individual semifinals, when he fell in straight sets (6-2, 6-1) to Falmouth’s Joe Delinks after not losing a match all season long.

“The kid beat me pretty badly,” said Steinroeder. “It was good to come back in sophomore year with something to strive for.”

Steinroeder has learned from that loss — with a little help from a growth spurt that saw him put on more weight, and close to six inches — and has changed up his offensive tactics in that span. Before, he liked to play a counter-punch game where he would play more defensive and take away his opponent’s strengths.

Now he forces the action with a strong kick serve and an array of shot-making skills.

“If an opponent had a big forehand, the kid wouldn’t see many forehands throughout the match. Alex would win the match that way,” said Spence. “He doesn’t need to do that now, because he can win with any of his own shots. He just keeps coming after his opponent. Even when he is down, he keeps coming after you.”

Added Steinroeder: “As the years have gone on I’ve gotten a little more offensive and been able to attack more. Since I have that old defensive game I can mix it up. I think my variety helps a lot.”

The rest of the state will be smiling when they hear that Steinroeder won’t be in the running for a third consecutive state individual title. His older brother will be gradating from college on the same weekend as the individual tournament, but that doesn’t mean that he won’t be readying the Patriots for one last run at the state team title before he’s off to try and be the new kid in the Ivy League.

“I never really think about the individual until we get there, because you are with the team and you practice every day,” Steinroeder said about knowing in advance that he can’t defend his crown. “I don’t think it will be too different. The goal will be to help the team win.”

Checking in with Crook, Syblis

February, 14, 2011
ESPN's Roger Brown checks in on his blog today with Barnstable quarterback D.J. Crook, who is receiving interest from a number of Division 1 programs.

Crook -- who threw for 2,858 yards, 33 touchdowns and 16 interceptions for the 7-4 Red Raiders last season -- is getting interest from Penn State, and took an unofficial visit last month to UConn. He also plans on taking visits to Syracuse and Harvard later this month.

It's been a difficult offseason so far for the junior, who came down with mononucleosis at the start of basketball season and broke his hand last week in practice. According to his father, Doug Crook, D.J. will likely skip American Legion baseball this summer to focus on football. D.J. plays first base for Post 206.

"He'll do a lot of one-day camps," Doug Crook told Brown. "DJ's a pure passer. He's not a dual-threat quarterback. He is at (the high school) level, but he won't be at the next level. If a school is looking for a kid who can throw the football, then he's someone they make want to look at."

Over the weekend, Brown also checked in with Cheshire Academy (Conn.)'s Ian Syblis, who is pursuing a post-graduate season for next fall. Syblis, an Everett native, transferred to the Cheshire, Conn. campus from Everett High following the Crimson Tide's scrimmage with Lynn English last August.

Syblis -- the younger brother of former Everett, Penn State and Oakland Raiders standout Omar Easy -- said he is considering New Hampton (N.H.) and Kiski Prep (Penn.). He currently holds a verbal offer from Maine, but has also received interest from Penn State, Northwestern and Washington State. He started at wideout and defensive back this past fall for the Cats, who advance to a NEPSAC Bowl, and said he's willing to play either side of the ball.

"Penn State suggested I spend another year in school," Syblis told Brown. "I got a late start and I didn't have any junior tape. A lot of other schools on the radar told me if I spend another year in high school a lot more doors will be open and I'd have a better chance of going to a big-time school."

For more recruiting updates on New England's premier football talent, be sure to check out Brown's blog.

Football Signing Day is here

February, 2, 2011
The first day of the football National Letter of Intent signing period has arrived, and we've got you covered all day (though we'll probably be buried under snow ourselves). Here is a list of Massachusetts athletes committed to Division 1 programs headed into today's big day.

Any commitments can be sent to Scott Barboza at or Brendan Hall at

(NOTE: The Ivy League does not recognize National Letters of Intent)

Taariq Allen, Rivers – Nebraska
Manny Asprilla, Everett – Boston College
Dalton Gifford, Bridgton Academy (Maine)/Barnstable – UConn
Marcus Grant, Lawrence Academy – Iowa
Harry Keselman, Oliver Ames - Temple
Anthony Knight, Lawrence Academy – Nevada
Albert Louis-Jean, Brockton – Boston College (enrolled in January)
Brian Miller, Andover – Boston College
Paul Nwokeji, Thayer Academy – UConn
Rodman Noel, Milford Academy (N.Y.)/Everett – NC State
Mike Orloff, Lawrence Academy – UCLA
Liam Porter, Natick – Boston College
Max Ricci, Lawrence Academy – Boston College
Richard Rodgers, St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – Cal
Andrew Siden, Natick – Tulane

Jeff Anderson, Longmeadow - Brown
Ryan Barrett, Holliston – Bryant
Connor Candito, Bridgton Academy (Maine)/St. John's (Shrewsbury) - Sacred Heart
Jamie Casselbury, Philips Andover - UMass
Connor Caveney, Cushing Academy - Sacred Heart
Matt Costello, Everett – Princeton
Jeff Covitz, Reading - Bryant
Ryan Delisle, St. John’s Prep – Harvard
Anthony Fabiano, Wakefield – Harvard
Ryan Flannery, North Attleborough - Columbia
Justin Flores, Tilton School/Woburn - Maine
Dan Giovacchini, Lawrence Academy – Brown
Will Guinee, Malden Catholic - Dartmouth
Greg Hilliard, Suffield Academy (Conn.)/Brockton – UMass
Clay Horne, Lawrence Academy – Villanova
Brandon Howard, Worcester Academy/King Philip - UMass
Randall Jette, Martha’s Vineyard – UMass
Isaiah Jones, Mahar - Maine
Andrew Kestenbaum, Dartmouth – Rhode Island
Ben Koopman, Marblehead – Holy Cross
John Lavin, Falmouth – Bryant
Dan Light, St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – Fordham
Harrison Lyons, Avon Old Farms (Conn.)/Norwell - Bryant
Alec May, King Philip - Georgetown
Brian McDonald, Hebron Academy (Maine)/Westwood - Sacred Heart
Andrew Mizzoni, Gloucester – Holy Cross
Obum Obukwelu, BC High – Harvard
Ben Patrick, Rivers – UMass (preferred walk-on)
Jason Richard, Milford Academy (N.Y.)/Weston - Sacred Heart
Peter Savarese, BB&N - Dartmouth
Zach Smerlas, Lincoln-Sudbury – Brown
Keshaudas Spence, Taft (Conn.)/Catholic Memorial - Sacred Heart
Charlie Storey, Milton Academy - Dartmouth
Brian Strachan, St. Sebastian’s – Brown
Cam Sullivan, Westfield - Bryant
Jeff Synan, Plymouth North - Bryant
Ben Ticknor, Milton Academy - Dartmouth
John Wallace, Somerville – UMass
Ryan Welch, Lawrence Academy – UNH
Conor Wyand, Nashoba - Brown

Nick Broughton, Marblehead - Merrimack
Matt Delaney, Barnstable - Assumption
Chris Mooney, Stoneham - Assumption
Mike Muir, Xaverian - Bentley
Bobby Richman, North Attleborough - Bentley
Chris Unis, Gloucester - Merrimack

Eric Bertino, BB&N - Middlebury
Ned Deane, Andover - Amherst
Mike Devin, Bridgewater-Raynham, Bowdoin
James DiBlaisi, BB&N - Trinity
Josh Friedland, Marblehead - Bates
Jake Giovanucci, Dexter - Bowdoin
Mike Gustafson, Belmont Hill - Washington & Lee
Brett Harasimowicz, Duxbury - Middlebury
Mike Hogan, St. John's (Shrewsbury) - Wesleyan
Matt Perlow, Marblehead - Bowdoin
Mike Tomaino, Gloucester - Bates