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Tight end a catch for Big Green

  • Dartmouth College freshman defensive lineman John High, right, attempts to shed the block of Evan Hecimovich during a Sept. 1, 2019, practice on Memorial Field. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint » Purchase a reprint »

  • Dartmouth College quarterback Jared Gerbino throws a pass over rushing linebacker Caleb Martin during an Aug. 31, 2019, practice on Memorial Field. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint » Purchase a reprint »

  • Dartmouth College defensive lineman Shane Cokes practices his pass-rushing moves around a tackling dummy while Jaylin Rainey (70) looks on during an Aug. 31, 2019, practice on Memorial Field. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint » Purchase a reprint »

  • Dartmouth College's Landon McDermott (29) and Josh Betts battle each other while running through an Aug. 31 punt coverage drill on Memorial Field. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint » Purchase a reprint »

  • Dartmouth College's Jonny Barrett lunges during an Aug. 31, 2019, punt-blocking drill on Memorial Field. Punter Cameron Baller holds the ball on a leash. (Valley News - Tris Wykes) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Purchase a reprint » Purchase a reprint »

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 9/4/2019 10:11:39 PM
Modified: 9/4/2019 10:11:31 PM

HANOVER — One of last season’s genuine surprise performances on the Dartmouth College football team was that of tight end Connor Rempel, who caught 22 passes for 235 yards and a team-high five touchdowns.

The last tight end to catch that many scoring tosses for the Big Green? Future NFL player Casey Cramer, who hauled in six during the 2003 campaign. Not since 2012 graduate John Gallagher, now a Nike employee, has Dartmouth had such a prolific performer at that position.

Rempel “was quiet and perhaps not the most confident guy coming in,” said Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens, who credits tight ends coach Cheston Blackshear and his tough-love style for getting No. 42 over the hump.

“His pass-catching skills I was hugely impressed with,” Teevens said. “He made some just phenomenal catches for us, big-time plays and catches in critical moments.”

Rempel’s 22 catches last year were the same total as produced by all Dartmouth tight ends in 2017.

“After we graduated four tight ends last year, I knew I had to step my game up,” said Rempel, a New Jersey native. “I was here (in Hanover) training during the summer, and I just stayed the course into preseason camp and the season. The coaches put me in great positions during games. I’d be wide open, and all I had to do was catch the ball.”

Rempel has bulked up a bit from last season to around 250 pounds, saying he doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed as just a receiver. Blocking defensive ends and staying on the field during running plays are his goals.

“I don’t want to be one-dimensional,” he said. “In high school, I was a blocker because we ran the Delaware wing-T (offense). I was recruited as a linebacker, but later in the process they changed me to a tight end.”

Rempel interned for finance giant Cantor Fitzgerald this summer, working under Rich Winter, who played receiver for Dartmouth back in the 1980s. A friend of Rempel’s is on the New York University wrestling team and gained him access to athletic fields there. Rempel also joined a gym a few blocks from his apartment on the Lower East Side.

“I worked out as much as I could and ate all I could,” said the government major, who worked 11-hour days in midtown Manhattan before lifting weights and going to sleep.

Kick Start: Dartmouth is considered an Ivy League title contender yet again, but if that’s to become reality, the placekicking game needs to shape up in a hurry. It was a disaster last season, when touted freshman Connor Davis simply wasn’t up to the task, hitting just six of 14 field-goal attempts. That weakness didn’t burn the Big Green a game last fall, but it lurked in the minds of players, coaches and fans.

The good news thus far? There’s competition at the position, which wasn’t true a year ago. Freshman Cameron Baller, from Argyle, Texas, is battling Davis neck-and-neck. The bad news? Neither kicker has looked particularly sharp.

“A good kicking game will win you games, and the lack of one will cost you,” said Teevens, who oversees the kicking and punting position group. “We’re hitting the ball well but not putting it through the uprights.

“It’s little things: a plant step, a hitch in the approach, overcompensation. Sometimes we think too much. We’ve gotten better, but the only good is through the uprights. Everything else is bad.”

The punting game should be fine, with senior Davis Brief having an outstanding preseason and exuding poise and strong performance when Dartmouth has to boot the ball away. Brief is also practicing placekicking.

Off the Charts: Senior receiver Drew Estrada got most of a recent practice off — and not because of injury or academics. It was because of the information gathered from the small GPS transmitters that various players wear during a given workout.

Estrada “was off the charts in terms of exterior yardage run, fast yards, high-intensity speed and all that type of thing,” Teevens said. “He’s a real hard worker … so it was, hey, we have to back him off.”

Strength and conditioning coach Spencer Brown and medical trainer Ben Schuler monitor the devices’ use and interpret the data produced. Teevens said it sometimes shows exertion that coaches wouldn’t notice in the midst of practice.

“We look at what a game-day exertion is, and you don’t want to exceed that,” Teevens said. “And you don’t want to have repeat (high exertion) days. Sometimes in preseason, you are so caught up with, ‘We’ve got to get our offense in,’ that you can wear your guys out.”

Notes: Jehu Chesson, a member of the NFL Washington Redskins’ practice squad, is the older brother of Dartmouth freshman receiver Dale Chesson. The younger brother was a Missouri all-state selection last fall and is one of several rookie pass-catchers who might see game time for the Big Green. … Another youngster bidding for action is sophomore defensive lineman Luca Di Leo, a 6-foot-2, 295-pound defensive lineman who Teevens describes as a “wrecking ball.” Di Leo survived serious burns in a household accident as a preschooler. … Dartmouth junior Kalle Wagner, a ski team member who served as a practice placekicker the past two years, will not do so this fall because he’ll be training for skiing in Europe. … Jake Allen, a sophomore quarterback who transferred from the University of Florida last season, remains behind Jared Gerbino and Derek Kyler on the depth chart. … Dartmouth features 17 players from Florida and several coaches whose families live in the state. Teevens has a house near Jacksonville, so all have been watching the path of Hurricane Dorian with bated breath. … Dartmouth has hired Coady Keller, a onetime player personnel and recruiting intern at Notre Dame and most recently a graduate assistant at Toledo, as its new football recruiting coordinator. Keller’s Linkedin page also lists him as being a member of Notre Dame’s “Irish Guard” from 2015-17. That group is described online as “a group of uniformed students that leads the Band of the Fighting Irish on the field at home games.” … Former Lebanon High basketball and lacrosse player Brooke Falzarano, now a Gordon (Mass.) College student, is interested in football coaching and has been shadowing some Dartmouth coaches during the preseason. She is the daughter of former Dartmouth football secretary and current Tuck School employee Cindy Falzarano. “I knew Brooke when she was a little kid,” Teevens said with a smile. “Having a woman out on the field with the coaches isn’t strange anymore.”

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.




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