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QB Guadagnoli Plays the (FCS) Waiting Game
Dan Guadagnoli’s goal was to be a scholarship quarterback, and he feels that over the last year he’s made himself into one.
It won’t be long before Guadagnoli finds out if his dream becomes a reality, and until then, he is stuck playing the waiting game.
“(Framingham assistant coach) Dana (Olson) says it’s a (lousy) process for anyone but a Rivals 100 recruit,” said Guadagnoli, referring to the national recruiting service Web site Rivals.com’s list of the top 100 players in the country. “You get dangled along by schools. They could be lying to you, new recruits show up, transfers show up. It’s kind of a toss-up.”
What is unfolding for the Framingham High senior is a common thing among seniors who want to play college football, but that doesn’t make it any easier for him, any less complicated, or frustrating. Even once an offer or two rolls in, Guadagnoli will still have tough decisions to make on where he goes.
But what makes this whole process unbearable is the limbo Guadagnoli’s left in at this point, knowing he’s good enough to play at the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) level, but not knowing when a school will give him that opportunity.
“That’s the most frustrating part about it,” said Guadagnoli. “If I was sitting here right now knowing that I’d underachieved this season, that would be one thing. But I know these schools are interested in me. I put the work in in the offseason and kicked it up several notches. I did what the colleges were looking for me to do in terms of improving the strength of my arm considerably. (The college coaches) tell me I now have an above-average arm for that level.
“To hear those kind of compliments, know that I have the tools like that and to have the successful year I had puts me in a position where I’ve done all I can.”
A year ago, Guadagnoli couldn’t say he was good enough to earn that scholarship. But he pushed himself in the weight room to strengthen his arm (the senior is now up to 200 pounds, up 25 from a year ago) and worked with Olson in the offseason to polish his mechanics and accuracy. Olson, who helped develop Walter Payton Award winner Ricky Santos at Bellingham, has no doubt that Guadagnoli can play at the FCS level.
“(Guadagnoli) throws an unbelievable fade stop. It’s like an NFL throw,” said Olson. “He throws it unbelievable - that 15-yard in, 15-yard out, the go route with a stop watch and he throws it, long throws from the opposite hashmark. He can make that. That’s one of the reasons you see these kids and they’re getting redshirted, because they don’t know how to make those throws.”
But one can make all the throws and have all the success in the world as a high school senior, as Guadagnoli did, leading the Flyers to an EMass Division 1A semifinal and throwing for over 2,000 yards, and still be waiting for that offer. Olson cautions that even Santos, despite being courted by the likes of Iowa and Penn State as a junior, wasn’t offered until three days prior to signing day in early February.
“I’d like to see (Guadagnoli) in the next couple weeks finish this, the sooner the better,” said Olson. “I just want him to enjoy his senior year. Ricky was under a lot of pressure the whole hoops season and if you remember they were making a state championship run. Meanwhile Ricky’s wondering, ‘Where am I going to be next year?"‘
The problem with the FCS level is that most of those schools only hand out roughly a dozen scholarships each recruiting cycle, and many of the offers are given out late after the prospects for the Football Bowl Subdivision (or Division I-A) schools have made their decision. It’s a trickle-down effect that impacts each level.
“What you say is plan for the worst, hope for the best,” said Natick coach Tom Lamb, who gives seminars to prospects on how to best take advantage of the recruiting process. “Be proactive. You go after them and they come after you. If you get your offer, that’s great, but make plans as if that wasn’t going to happen. Make copies of your film, have some reach schools, have your fallbacks. Have it all covered.”
Guadagnoli’s done that, but another obstacle a player like him will face is the pack mentality exhibited by college coaches when it comes to offering a prospect.
“To me, it seems like with scholarship programs, and this is just my opinion, that people seem to be afraid to be the first one to offer,” said Framingham coach Gary Doherty. “Once there’s an offer others seem to follow, but people are afraid to go out on a limb and make the decision for themselves.”
“I’m getting my tape out there to as many schools as I possibly can,” Guadagnoli said. “It puts more pressure on them, especially if they’re in the same league. They might not be interested but it pressures other schools into offering me. You hope it falls into place for you.”
Guadagnoli reports that he is getting serious interest from schools such as UMass, Northeastern, the University of Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Lafayette, Fordham and Maine. A National Honor Society student, Guadagnoli would love to play at Penn and receive the Ivy League education that comes along with it. But that decision won’t be so cut and dry if a Northeastern or UMass offers him a full scholarship, something that Penn won’t be able to do no matter how much the Quaker coaching staff wants him.
“You want to use sports to get you into the best possible position academically,” said Guadagnoli. “But financially it becomes a problem. The (Colonial Athletic Association) schools can offer scholarships, but in the Patriot and Ivy League they can’t. It puts you in a weird spot. … It’s definitely a family decision that has to be made.
“My parents are ultimately conflicted about it just like I am,” he added. “I don’t think it weighs on me to a point where it’s overbearing at all. I try to keep things in perspective. Once there’s concrete options on the table, I’ll bear down best and make the best decision for me in the long haul. But nothing’s concrete. Everything’s speculation at this point.”
Until that first offer comes, Guadagnoli is left to speculate, even though he’s been told by coaches from just about every school recruiting him that he’s good enough to play scholarship ball. He hopes to have a clearer picture within the next week, but knows it could be longer than that.
Even though his player is in limbo, Doherty isn’t worried that Guadagnoli will get his wish.
“He’s wanted to do it, he’s going to do it,” he said. “Danny just worked his butt off both in the classroom and on and off the field. He’s a great kid and person. He’s going to have success wherever he goes, I don’t doubt it for a second.”
Even if he does have to go through a lousy process to get there.
Guadagnoli plays the waiting game
By Adam Kurkjian, The Milford Daily News (MA)
Photo Credit: Mark Fisette/The Milford Daily News