Big Green Football Not Big-Headed
Dartmouth College defensive end Sawyer Whalen cools off Wednesday during the Big Green's first preseason practice on Memorial Field. Valley News - Tris Wykes
Dartmouth College football coach Buddy Teevens shares a laugh with sports information director Rick Bender, center, and video coordinator Glenn Hicks after Wednesday morning's practice at Memorial Field. The workout was the first of the preseason for the Big Green, which opens its season Sept. 20 by hosting Central Connecticut. Valley News - Tris Wykes
Hanover — Five years ago, the Dartmouth College football team was coming off a winless season and its coaches, players and fans could only dream about finishing third in the Ivy League. Now, being picked by league media to finish in that slot for a second consecutive campaign doesn’t elicit much more than a shrug from coach Buddy Teevens.
“It’s nice that people think a little differently about you,” said the longtime bench boss, whose squad held its first preseason practice Wednesday on Memorial Field. “But as I told the guys, you’re not sneaking up on anybody. People realize the things we are capable of doing, but we have something to prove.
“We have goals and aspirations and we are going to work and get better every day. We can’t feel, we’ve arrived when people are picking you third. That’s not what you play for.”
Receiver Ryan McManus, a senior who committed to the school during the Big Green’s two-win season in 2010, said he and his teammates don’t place much stock in the poll. Dartmouth was 6-4 overall and 5-2 in league play last fall.
“We just have to worry about getting better, but it’s nice to see the tide turn a little bit in how the program’s viewed,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of guys back with talent and games under their belts. I think we’re ready to win a title this year, definitely.”
McManus is likely Dartmouth’s best receiver when healthy, but has missed 14 of 30 possible games during his college career because of concussion issues. Last season, he was walloped while attempting to make a catch along the sideline against Holy Cross in the second game, and never returned to game action.
“I knew right away when I got hit that something wasn’t right,” McManus said. “I’ve never been fully unconscious or had memory loss, but last year I had headaches and confusion. That faded after the first week, but when I’d work out, those symptoms would return.”
Tim McManus, Ryan’s older brother and a former star receiver at Dartmouth himself, also had a season limited by a concussion and served as a sounding board for his younger sibling.
“Timmy was watching the game saw the hit and reached out to me,” Ryan McManus said. “He told me to be cautious and not rush coming back because it’s not worth it later in life.”
Ryan McManus, who participated in spring practices, has caught 57 passes for 791 yards and two touchdowns in 16 Big Green games.
Dalyn Williams earned honorable mention honors at quarterback last fall and looked sharp Wednesday. Although he and senior Alex Park allegedly entered the 2013 preseason neck-and-neck for the starting job, it was soon apparent that Williams was the man.
Now, he’s the established starter, but his scrambling style means Park is as likely as any backup anywhere to see game action.
“We’re fortunate to have two guys that can perform at an extremely high level and they both got better,” Teevens said of his signal callers’ development over the summer. “Today was like the last day of spring practice; they didn’t miss anything.
“Historically, you need to have two guys ready, and we’re lucky to have to have two who can perform at an extremely high level.”
Dartmouth starts the season in good health, with numerous players who went down during the 2013 season back and ready to go.
Junior running back Kyle Bramble is apparently healed after knee surgery and is the presumed starter, taking over for departed workhorse Dominick Pierre.
Ryan McManus, Victor Williams, Jon Marc Carrier and Kirby Schoenthaler should comprise a top-flight receiving corps. Juniors Sam Laptad and Jon Moran have missed time with injuries in the past year, but will compete to replace the graduated Cole Marcoux.
Cornerback Chai Reece and offensive tackle Scotty Whitmore, both seniors, are back after sitting out spring practice, as is junior running back Brian Grove.
Those out include senior receiver Charlie Storey, who recently underwent foot surgery and is sidelined for the season, junior defensive end Jake Young (injured foot) and freshman linebacker Evan Key, who broke his wrist in an all-star lacrosse game this summer.
Teevens said junior linebacker Brian Fordon is also out for the season, although he would not provide a reason. He was also tight-lipped about the absence of senior receiver Jvonte Brooks, a former men’s basketball team captain who left that squad after differences with coach Paul Cormier.
Brooks, who looked sharp in the spring, is out indefinitely with “some academic stuff” and a “hernia situation,” the coach said.
Another player who won’t be around this fall is junior quarterback Thomas Militello, who’s never taken a varsity snap and is headed for study in China.
The East Asian language and literature major is fluent in Japanese, and Teevens said he wasn’t going to hold the St. Louis product back from what he called “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
“Having only five quarterbacks is a little bit scary, and … you’re torn a little bit as a football coach and an educator. But it’s a unique thing and they don’t come around very often,” Teevens said.
Teevens noted that another Dartmouth player, offensive lineman Sanders Davis, studied cancer research in England not long ago and is now part of Dartmouth’s Gender Research Institute.
Tris Wykes can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3227.