Big Green’s Running QB a Pain for Rivals

  • Dartmouth College quarterback Jared Gerbino during an Oct. 3, 2017, practice on the Blackman Fields. Gerbino, a sophomore, has sparked the offense as a multi-threat substitution during games. (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 »

  • Dartmouth College quarterback Jared Gerbino throws a pass during a 2016 practice at Memorial Field. The native of suburban Rochester, N.Y., also played soccer, basketball, baseball and lacrosse growing up and has become a significant rushing threat for the Big Green. (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 »

  • Dartmouth College quarterback Jared Gerbino during an Oct. 4, 2017, 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 »

  • Dartmouth College sophomore quarterback Jared Gerbino. (Mark Washburn photograph)

Valley News Staff Writer
Friday, October 06, 2017

Hanover — If not for a headache, Jared Gerbino might not be suiting up today for the Dartmouth College football team. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound sophomore now causes aching noggins for Big Green foes.

A native of Rush, N.Y., in suburban Rochester, Gerbino didn’t attract any scholarship offers in high school, but felt he was catching the eye of Boston College coaches at a one-day camp the summer before his senior year. The quarterback was promoted to a top group of signal callers who would move from outlying fields and into the Eagles’ stadium for drills after lunch, but that’s when a migraine headache struck.

Gerbino said he first saw stars, then suffered split vision, symptoms he later realized were brought on by dehydration. His audition was over, and the ensuing six-hour car ride had a somber tone.

“I pouted for a couple hours on the way home,” said Gerbino, whose Big Green team hosts Yale today for homecoming in a matchup of 3-0 Ivy League teams. “In the moment, it was really sad and I couldn’t do anything about it.”

Dartmouth coaches realized they had to get Gerbino into game action after he shined piloting the scout team last fall. That’s a group of reserves who mimic an upcoming opponents’ formations, plays and tendencies for the Big Green’s starting units. Gerbino’s imitation of Princeton star John Lovett, a 2016 All-American, was especially striking.

Lovett “was devastating carrying the ball,” Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens said of a player who ran for 20 touchdowns last fall and threw for 10 more. “We looked at what we had in Jared, with a guy who was recruited as a quarterback, and it made sense.”

Last spring, shortly after the arrival of new offensive coordinator Kevin Daft, Gerbino began replacing starting quarterback Jack Heneghan in some situations. He mostly either carries the ball after receiving a shotgun snap or hands off to a tailback behind him or to a receiver crossing in front of him.

To date, it’s mostly the threat of Gerbino throwing a pass rather than actually doing it that’s kept defenses off-balance. The righthander has completed one of two passes for 16 yards while running 24 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Last week at Pennsylvania, he busted up the middle for 27 yards to the Quakers’ 15-yard line on the last drive of the game, then bulled in from a yard for the deciding score as time expired in a 16-13 victory.

Said his father, Richard Gerbino, who attended the game with Jared’s mother, Mary: “If that’s the last game we ever get to see our son play football, we feel fulfilled.”

Dartmouth offensive tackle Matt Kaskey, whose unit has helped produce an average of 247.3 rushing yards per game, said Gerbino’s slam-bam style meshes with the behemoths in front of him.

“His attitude is something the offensive line loves to see,” Kaskey said. “He had nicks and bruises all game long, but he was there jamming it in at the end. Guys don’t want to tackle him as much as a lighter back. He’s a hard runner, and it’s awesome.”

Gerbino also played soccer, basketball, baseball and lacrosse and soaked up weight and speed training while growing up in Rush, a town of about 3,000. His maternal grandfather, Leo Minotti, was a two-time national champion gymnast at Syracuse renowned for his rope-climbing ability. His paternal grandfather, Jack Gerbino, was a semi-pro football player in Rochester, a city policeman and the father of seven children.

Richard Gerbino, Jared’s father, also became a police officer, as did two of the boy’s uncles. Richard later became a security officer at his son’s high school and coached him in various sports. On the side, he started a tree removal and stump grinding business, occasionally using his two sons as help.

It was at the 2015 New England Elite Camp near Boston that Chris Rorke, then Dartmouth’s quarterbacks coach, first spied Jared Gerbino. The Big Green was enjoying success with dual-threat quarterback Dalyn Williams, and orders were out to corral a few more. Gerbino had walk-on offers from Michigan State, Miami (Fla.), Old Dominion and Buffalo.

“Jared caught my eye as a big, fluid athlete with good arm strength,” Rorke, now the head coach at Tabor (Mass.) Academy, wrote in an email. “His athletic ability really stood out. … I thought he was a Tim Tebow-type athlete who would add a different dimension to our offense.”

Gerbino attended that season’s Dartmouth finale, a heart-stopping victory over visiting Princeton in the snow, and was sold. But he was one of six quarterbacks the next August and, after a few weeks, was granted a request to move to receiver. The switch only lasted a few weeks before his scout-team star turn.

“I’m not too worried about what my position is on paper,” said Gerbino, who’s listed as a quarterback alhough he rarely practices passing. “A lot of what I’m doing is built on me running, but the coaches know I can throw.

“I could get my passing technique back in a week, but it’s sparking things for me to run the ball, so maybe we’ll keep doing that until it doesn’t work, which I don’t think will happen.”

For now, No. 13 is garnering more attention not only during practices and games, but around campus. His size and gregarious personality, now combined with his performance, mean he’s overlooked no more.

“People know your name and that’s cool, but it’s also humbling,” Gerbino said. “They say congratulations, but you can’t take that as you being the man, now. You just say thank you and put in more hard work.”

Notes: Leo Minotti, 88, and his wife, Melva, are expected to attend today’s game. Richard Gerbino said his father-in-law, a former businessman and Rochester Institute of Technology adjunct professor, still lifts weights in the basement. … Former Dartmouth quarterback Harry Kraft, who didn’t see game action during two years with the Big Green, is the third-string signal caller at Division III Colby College in Maine. Kraft, a grandson of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, has completed two of three attempts for 21 yards for the 0-3 Mules. … Another one-time Dartmouth quarterback, Jonathan DiBiaso, a former Massachusetts player of the year who transferred to Tufts, was on the Jumbos roster the past two seasons, but is not playing this fall. …Yale freshman running back Andrew Grinde ran for 145 yards and a touchdown in his college debut last month but quit this week because of what he told montanasports.com was his first concussion. “I was rushed into practice this Sunday, which shouldn’t have happened,” the 2014 Montana Gatorade Player of the Year said. “So I cleaned out my locker and walked into my coaches’ office on Monday and quit.”

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.