Dartmouth Wide Receiver Has Speedy Recovery
Dartmouth College football coach Buddy Teevens meets with some of the Big Green's kickers during Wednesday's practice. From left, the booters are Alex Gakenheimer, Ben Kepley and Riley Lyons. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth College linebacker Will McNamara locks out teammate Folarin Orimolade during a practice drill Wednesday on Memorial Field. McNamara wore a GoPro industrial camera on his helmet for part of the workout. Valley News - Tris Wykes Purchase photo reprints »
Jon Marc Carrier
Hanover — One of the standouts of Dartmouth College spring football practice so far has been freshman receiver Jon Marc Carrier, a 5-foot-8 speedster who’s looked even more comfortable and confident than he did last fall, when he caught five passes for 58 yards and a touchdown and returned six kickoffs for an average of 19 yards.
It was such a return, however, that ended Carrier’s season at Harvard during the seventh game. After gathering the ball that night, the Tampa, Fla., native suffered not one, not two, but three helmet-to-helmet hits, the last of which knocked him unconscious for a prolonged time and led to his being stretchered off the field, strapped down and with his helmet’s face mask removed.
The obvious concern was that Carrier had suffered paralysis, but word filtered back to Harvard Stadium after about half an hour that he was suffering from a severe concussion, but had full body movement. He rode back to Hanover in a car later that night, accompanied by Dartmouth medical personnel, and spent the night under observation at the college infirmary. His season was over.
“I was in pretty bad shape, but I was able to bounce back and I don’t really think about it anymore,” Carrier said after Wednesday’s practice. “The last thing I remember was Harvard scoring a touchdown the play before, so I can’t be scared of it happening again.”
Carrier said he made a cut while returning the kickoff and was simultaneously struck on either side of his head by the helmets of two defenders. However, he briefly remained on his feet, long enough for a third opponent to deliver a straight-on head shot. Silence descended over Harvard Stadium as the broadcast teams made awkward conversation and an ambulance was driven on to the turf.
“The next thing I remember was being in the hospital and I was terrified because I was strapped down and I couldn’t tell if I could move myself or not,” said Carrier, adding that he watched the play once on videotape later in the season. “I had a really bad headache and noise and light bothered me and I was just really confused. I would ask the same questions over and over again.”
Carrier was ruled out for the season after about a week, when his symptoms didn’t dissipate. However, he was back to working out in roughly a month and was fully cleared for winter conditioning upon returning to campus in January.
Carrier’s parents, Mark and Stacy Carrier, were watching the game online and their son’s first concern upon waking was for them. He knew they’d be worried sick, even though Mark played receiver in the NFL from 1987-98 and is part of the Carolina Panthers’ front office.
“He knew exactly what I was going through because he had multiple concussions,” Jon Marc Carrier said. “He still gets minor headaches and forgets things sometimes, but he’s been tested for serious brain damage and there’s none of that.”
Jon Marc Carrier is hoping to carve out more playing time from a deep and veteran group of Dartmouth receivers this fall. The likes of Bo Patterson, Victor Williams, Kirby Schoenthaler, Ryan McManus and Houston Brown are all back, but three of the squad’s top five pass-catchers have moved on.
“I was making a lot of progress up until I got injured and then it seemed like it all went down the drain,” Carrier said. “Now it’s time to pick it back up and be healthy and see if I can help this team win an Ivy League championship.”
Dartmouth strapped on shoulder and leg pads for the first time this week and things got a little testy at Monday’s practice. Predictably, defensive lineman and Tasmanian Devil-wannabe Cody Fulleton was in the middle of the scrum. Coach Buddy Teevens prohibits all-out fighting and had his whistle between his lips when the melee was broken up.
“I was inhaling to blow it, but they got everyone separated in time,” Teevens said with a small grin.
Had he blown the whistle, the entire team would have run sprints as punishment.
Fulleton was abetted by linebacker Will McNamara, while the offense was represented by linemen A.J. Dillione and Sean Ronan.
“It’s a physical game so you want to see them real physical, but not over the line,” Teevens said. “They have to be disciplined enough to walk away. It’s nice when you have to pull them back as opposed to push them forward.”
Dartmouth had several fifth-year seniors compete last fall after successfully petitioning the Ivy League for an extra season of eligibility because of previous injury. However, only one such player has chosen that route for the 2014 campaign, receiver Dana Barbaro, who caught three passes for 49 yards and a touchdown last year.
“He’s a seasoned guy who had that great catch against Cornell,” Teevens said. “The big thing is to keep him healthy. He’s just been so in and out, in and out.
“If we can just keep him healthy, he can make a difference.”
Defensive back Mike Banaciski and running back Dan Henggeler could have also petitioned for a fifth season but did not do so. Banaciski was second in tackles on last year’s team but has played through repeated injuries and completed his five-year engineering degree in four years. Henggeler was a career backup.
“I ask them to give me everything they have while they are here and I offer everyone an opportunity to come back,” Teevens said. “Some do and some don’t. They all graduate, which is nice.”
Notes: After downplaying the chances that Dartmouth would wear an alternate helmet design in 2014, Teevens had to come clean Wednesday when an actual prototype appeared at practice. After admitting that his squad will don the new brain buckets at some point during the upcoming season, the coach and equipment manager Steve Ward declared a moratorium on any published photos of them. … Cornerback Chai Reece, who tore a knee ligament last spring and has been out for a year, is still somewhat sidelined by the injury and didn’t practice Wednesday. Reece was a 2012 starter. … New defensive line coach Duane Brooks made his presence felt Wednesday, repeatedly bellowing angry instructions and a few choice curses at his troops. Brooks replaces Kevin Lewis, who moved on to William & Mary. Brooks played for Teevens at Maine during the 1980s and was a longtime Yale assistant, beginning in the late 1990s.
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.