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Dartmouth football begins preseason practice

  • Dartmouth College quarterback Jared Gerbino scrambles away from a defender during the Big Green's first preseason practice, on Aug. 25 at the Blackman Fields. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Purchase a reprint »

  • Dartmouth College receiver Hunter Hagdorn practices his one-handed catches after the Big Green's Aug. 26 practice on the Blackman Fields. Hagdorn made 22 receptions last season after hauling in a combined 100 during his first two college seasons. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Purchase a reprint »

  • Dartmouth College quarterback Jared Gerbino prepares to throw a pass after the Big Green's Aug. 26 practice on the Blackman Fields. The senior has added earrings, a mustache and a Julias Caeser haircut since last season and said he's considering keeping the new look for the upcoming season. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Purchase a reprint »

  • Dartmouth College football players Connor Rempel, left, and Isiah Swann ride away from the Blackman Fields on Rempel's moped after the Big Green's Aug. 26 practice. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Purchase a reprint »

  • Dartmouth College receiver Chris Sykes catches a pass during an Aug. 25 practice on the Blackman Fields. The Big Green, coming off a 9-1 season, opens Sept. 21 at Jacksonville. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to Purchase a reprint »

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/26/2019 10:23:17 PM
Modified: 8/26/2019 10:23:13 PM

HANOVER — The Dartmouth College football team had, for all intents and purposes, only three quarterbacks at its disposal by the end of last season. Dual-threat junior Jared Gerbino split time with sophomore Derek Kyler and Jake Pallotta backed them up.

There wasn’t a true freshmen among the signal callers, but that’s not the case now. The Big Green began preseason practice Sunday with four rookies under center: Zack Milko from West Milford, N.J., Gavin Muir from Greenwich, Conn., Dylan Cadwallader from Frisco, Texas, and Nick Howard from Green Bay, Wisc.

Coach Buddy Teevens, in the 14th year of his second stint at his alma mater, said the quartet were recruited as what he calls “quarterback-athletes.” That means they’re considered versatile enough to play other positions if they’re not a good enough or a good enough fit for Dartmouth’s needs at the position.

“The guys that are feeling the most comfortable, executing the most productively and we feel are going to develop most successfully, we’ll continue with,” said Teevens, who debuted at Dartmouth as one of 10 freshmen team quarterbacks in the mid-1970s and left as the Ivy League’s player of the year.

“Guys who think they’ll have a better shot (at another position), we’ll consider that as well.

The plan is to again split time between Gerbino and Kyler, with Pallotta battling onetime University of Florida signal-caller Jake Allen for top reserve duties. Allen transferred before last season, struggled to adapt and then broke a finger trying to field a pregame punt at Yale.

“Right now, we have two numbers ones,” Teevens said of his quarterback situation. “Gerbino is the No. 1 one, but we’ll play a two quarterback system, which has worked in the past. The nice thing is the competition, the guys pushing each other.”

Gerbino, a senior who began his Dartmouth career as a receiver, ran 115 times for 700 yards and eight touchdowns last season, averaging a whopping 6.1 yards per carry. There was much talk of him throwing more, but he completed 12 of only 21 attempts for 159 yards and four touchdowns. The native of the Rochester, N.Y., area had one pass intercepted.

Kyler, a junior from DeKalb, Ill., who popped onto the Big Green’s starting radar at this time last season, completed 122 of 177 pass attempts for 1,362 yards and 13 touchdowns. He had two tosses picked off.

An underrated runner, Kyler carried 37 times for 190 yards last fall, scoring once. He also caught a touchdown pass, befitting his status as one of the team’s best all-around athletes.

No longer listed on the Dartmouth roster is Micah Croom, who played as a junior defensive back last year.

The Southern California native was committed to Pac-12 Conference member Utah before he chose the Big Green, and created a faux ESPN the Magazine cover that he put out on social media days before he reported as a freshman.

“Top Prospect in the class of (2020) for Dartmouth College” read one headline on the image, which showed Croom in full football gear, holding a ball in one hand and putting the opposite index finger to his lips.

Croom didn’t play in varsity games until last year, when competed in nine of them, making seven tackles and seeing time mostly on special teams. Teevens didn’t rule out the possibility he could return to the Big Green in the next two weeks.

“I’ve given him a bit of a sabbatical,” Teevens said. “He’s trying to figure out if he wants to come back (this season) or transfer. He’s working to graduate early and have a fifth year (of eligibility) someplace else.”

Calle Brownson, who made national headlines at Dartmouth last fall after moving from intern to entry-level quality control coach to recruiting coordinator, was recently hired by the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

The former semi-pro women’s football player and college softball competitor began an internship with the Bills this summer and Teevens said it was only three days into the gig that Buffalo head coach Sean McDermott gave him a call.

“He said ‘I know this is a bad time’ but I knew it was going to happen,” Teevens said. “She was that good.

“I’m happy for her and sad for us. She did a wonderful, wonderful job. I told her ‘That’s your goal… I’m glad we were able to kind of help you get some exposure.’”

Another coach who began his career at Dartmouth and who’s shooting up the career ladder is University of Georgia receivers boss Cortez Hankton, who was in Hanover from 2012-14. The former NFL receiver and New Orleans native moved from Dartmouth to Vanderbilt before joining the Bulldogs last year.

The football program lost one of its most devoted supporters Aug. 3, when longtime Hanover resident Winifred Anthony “Winnie” Stearns died at age 91. The grandmother of 2011 Dartmouth graduate and linebacker Luke Hussey was a practice regular during his playing days and for several years after he finished.

With a piercing greeting of “Yoo-hoo!”, Stearns would run players, coaches and media members to ground, often handing the youngsters snapshots she had previously taken with her camera. She was known to demand that the equipment staff keep Dartmouth’s competitors warm on the sidelines and to firmly grasp the forearm of those she regaled with tales of all types.

“I got to see her just before she passed and she was lucid and clear and communicative and just happy she’d had a wonderful life,” Teevens said, obvious sadness in his voice. “She told me a lot about it and was very proud of her family and its accomplishments. We’ll miss her and I’m just sorry she’s not around to enjoy any more of it.”

One of the most touching Winnie moments was the day Teevens ushered his entire squad over to the Alumni Field stands and led the players in singing Happy Birthday to Stearns. The coach introduced her that day as “the grandmother of Dartmouth football”.

Notes: Kyler has switched from No. 15 to No. 12… Returning to practice action in limited roles were previously injured starters Vito Penza (knee) and Jake Guidone (shoulder). Teevens said he expects the tight ends to be available for opening-day duties… Dartmouth’s obvious location for inexperience is the offensive line. Teevens listed depth at running back and defensive line, the lack of proven safeties and the kick-return game as other question marks… After going as many as 12 consecutive practice days during previous preseasons, Dartmouth will take off every fifth day during the next month… Tyrone Hendrix, a former Morgan State (Md.) receiver and a new Dartmouth quality control coach, ran a 4.6-second 40 yard dash recently, just to show that he’s still got some speed… Hanover High and University of Oklahoma graduate Parker Thurston, who played baseball for the Marauders and the Lebanon Post 22 senior American Legion team, is the Big Green’s new video coordinator. He worked for the Sooners football and baseball teams in that field as an undergraduate before earning his sports management diploma this spring… Teevens likened the Blackman Fields’ surface Sunday to the rough at a golf course and said the areas from which his kickers worked “was like a hay field”. The fields were more closely mown Monday.

Tris Wykes can be reached at

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