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He’s Got a Bulldog Mentality

Hartford Lineman Will Play for Division-I Bryant

  • Hartford senior Michael Dulac looks up at Hartford assistant coach, Peter Lynch after signing to play football for Bryant University yesterday at Hartford High. “I’m so proud of you,” said Lynch as he clapped Dulac on the back. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Hartford senior Michael Dulac looks up at Hartford assistant coach, Peter Lynch after signing to play football for Bryant University yesterday at Hartford High. “I’m so proud of you,” said Lynch as he clapped Dulac on the back. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hartford High School senior Michael Dulac signs his contract to play football for Bryant College. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Hartford High School senior Michael Dulac signs his contract to play football for Bryant College. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Hartford senior Michael Dulac looks up at Hartford assistant coach, Peter Lynch after signing to play football for Bryant University yesterday at Hartford High. “I’m so proud of you,” said Lynch as he clapped Dulac on the back. (Valley News - Libby March)
  • Hartford High School senior Michael Dulac signs his contract to play football for Bryant College. (Valley News - Libby March)

White River Junction — It’s nothing new for Hartford High football coach Mike Stone to send a player off to college ball. But this National Letter of Intent business? Less so.

Per the request of Bryant University, Stone and senior Michael Dulac made sure the NLI binding the 6-foot-3, 282-pound offensive lineman to the Bulldogs was faxed to the Smithfield, R.I., school by 7:30 a.m. yesterday. But the document disappeared somewhere between the morning’s squeaky phone tones and yesterday afternoon, when Stone joined Dulac for a brief ceremony before assembled media.

“He said he put it on one of my tables in my office,” Stone confessed. “I don’t know. But I’ll tell you what; we’re going to turn over every folder we have until we find it.”

No matter, it’s now a done deal: Dulac has a place with coach Marty Fine’s team as part of a 30-player recruiting class confirmed yesterday on national signing day. Dulac selected Bryant over Northeast Conference rival Albany (N.Y.) after sorting through attention from several schools, including Dartmouth.

“It’s a great football fit for me, scheme-wise,” said Dulac, who scribbled on a legal pad for the cameras in lieu of the actual letter sent to his future college. “They do what I do best, which is kind of downhill run blocking. It’s a great academic school, specifically with their business program; it’s a top-10 percent business school, and I plan on majoring in finance. And overall student body, when I was on my visit, I seemed to fit in.

“I had a lot of options. That was one of the better ones.”

Dulac’s scholarship is partial, at least for this year. The lineman is being rewarded for both his acumen on the field — he’s just the second two-way trenchman to be named Vermont Gatorade player of the year since the award’s 1986 debut — as well as in the classroom, where he’s an honor roll regular.

Smarts and size made Dulac, who won’t turn 18 until July 21, a rare commodity when he was about to become a high school freshman. Stone has always been reluctant to put freshmen on the line, but assistant coach Pete Lynch was convinced otherwise.

“He has exceptional agility for a man his size; that’s why he’s going where he’s going and why he’s being sought after,” Lynch said. “We have lots of guys who are big guys. It used to be big, lumbering guys would play the line and that would be fine. But now everything is about speed, agility, strength. He has all of those qualities, plus he’s very, very bright and very dedicated.”

Dulac goes to a program in need of a better start than in 2012. The Bulldogs finished 4-7 after losing their first six contests. Bryant was 4-4 in the NEC, finishing in the middle of the pack.

As if that never happened before. Hartford struggled to a 5-4 mark in Dulac’s rookie campaign in 2009, missing the Vermont Division I playoffs. Everything has been gravy since: a 36-6 mark over three seasons, all capped by state championships. Dulac’s last two teams had perfect 11-0 marks.

“I honestly don’t think, if I’d gone to any other school in the state, that I’d be in this position,” Dulac said. “Just between the great coaches (and) the level of expectation in the program, I think that’s something you can’t really learn unless you’re in it. I know that’s something college coaches value; they want winners.

“Yeah, we had a rough year my freshman year, but these last three years, it’s almost hard to remember what losing feels like. I want to carry that wherever I go.”

Dulac is the fourth player Stone, Hartford’s 26-year football coach, has sent to play in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA). Running back Gordon Willey was the first, heading to Maine in 1989 following a postgraduate year at Bridgton Academy. Jeremy Durand was part of the South Florida program in the late 1990s, and Dan Ammel quarterbacked at Sacred Heart in the early 2000s.

NLIs and DVDs were just random letter combinations back in Willey’s day, Stone recalled.

“It’s much different,” Stone said. “Gordon was a junior my first year (as coach); we had no idea, really, what we were doing. Thank God he went to prep school … that was key.

“Now, I think, with all the media and everything, there’s a lot of ways to market kids a little better. We’re more aware of where we need to send kids based on what their interests are.”

As honed in as he is on a future in finance — “Honestly, whatever makes me money I’ll be excited for” — Dulac’s immediate goal is earning playing time. Bryant is graduating an all-NEC right tackle in Chris Willadsen and has fifth-year senior Andrew Barrett atop the depth chart, but Dulac’s been told he could earn playing time if he can transition from his previous level of play.

As if that’s never happened before.

“You train like you want to play,” Dulac said. “I’ll be training this entire offseason like I’m expected to come in and contribute.”

The filing can be saved for another day.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.