Granite State gridders set their futures
Portsmouth High School's Rick Holt and Souhegan of Amherst's Jake Kennedy have been playing football against each other since they were freshmen. They'll be on opposite sidelines for the CHaD East-West All-Star Game in June, but after that they'll be teammates.
Holt, a defensive lineman, and Kennedy, an offensive tackle, were among the 11 athletes who signed a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday to play football at the University of New Hampshire.
"There was some trash-talking between us when we were freshmen and sophomores, but we developed a level of respect for one another during our junior year," Holt said. "We've played against each other for a long time, but it's pretty cool that we're both going to UNH as friends and teammates."
Wednesday was the first day the NCAA allowed Class of 2013 football players to sign a National Letter of Intent, a document that binds a scholarship player to a four-year institution.
Kennedy gave a verbal commitment to UNH last September. He chose UNH over Massachusetts, Colgate, Fordham, Holy Cross, Maine and Rhode Island. He'll represent the West in the CHaD game, and Holt will be on the East roster.
"I texted him today to congratulate him," Kennedy said. "I told him, 'It's about time we become teammates."
Two other players from New Hampshire signed with UNH on Wednesday: Bedford offensive lineman Will McInerney, and Proctor Academy linebacker Odaine Franklyn. Franklyn played a season of prep school football after attending White Plains (N.Y.) High School.
McInerney had surgery on both knees last year, and did not play during his senior season.
"It was unfortunate that he missed his senior year, but he was very impressive in our camps and clinics last spring, so we knew he was the right fit for us," UNH coach Sean McDonnell said.
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Logan Laurent was a starter on the Exeter High School varsity soccer team as a sophomore, but even then he had a strong suspicion that his future was in football.
After that sophomore season Laurent dropped soccer so he could sharpen his skills as a kicker. He traveled to attend camps and clinics, and worked regularly with a kicking coach. That dedication paid off Wednesday, when he signed a National Letter of Intent to play at the University of Massachusetts.
Because of UMass' current kicking situation, Laurent is expected to redshirt his freshman year. He also had a scholarship offers from UNH and Maine.
Although he was known more for his place-kicking ability at Exeter, Laurent said he was recruited primarily as a punter.
"Punting is definitely something I have more of a body for, compared to place-kicking," Laurent said. "Whenever I went to a camp with my parents they told me, 'You should really look into punting.' I procrastinated, but once I hit a few good balls I started pursuing it at the highest level."
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Laconia High School tight end Graham Nyhan (Stonehill) and Proctor Academy lineman John Martin (Merrimack) also signed a National Letter of Intent on Wednesday. Winnacunnet coach Ron Auffant said Winnacunnet offensive lineman Christian Dyer would sign a Letter of Intent to play for Stonehill this week, and former Salem High School running back Jerickson Fedrick said he will sign with Maine.
"It was a full offer, but I haven't signed my letter yet because I haven't been with my family," Fedrick said.
Fedrick played prep school football for Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Conn., last season.
In addition, four players from last season's Phillips Exeter Academy team will play in the Ivy League next season. That group includes former Everett (Mass.) High School quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso, who is headed to Dartmouth. Davon Robertson, a tight end/defensive end, will play at Harvard; and both Matt Girard and Jake Whalen have committed to Brown. Girard is an offensive lineman/linebacker, and Whalen plays offensive and defensive line.
The Ivy League does not recognize the National Letter of Intent.