EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

August 23, 2009

Down, set, hut! 130 area players ready to hit the college gridiron this fall

130 area players ready to hit the college grid iron this fall

Division 1-A

Things haven't always been easy for Andover's Brendan Smith. Two years ago, the Northwestern safety missed an entire season with a nasty shoulder injury and it wasn't a sure thing that he'd step onto the football field again.

But, after a year's worth of rehab and physical therapy, he was back patrolling the secondary for the Wildcats last season. He's a preseason All-Big-10 selection by Phil Steele's magazine.

Smith will start at safety again for Northwestern as a senior and will also serve as co-captain. Last year he earned All-Big Ten honorable mention honors after recording 82 tackles (bringing his career total to 188 through 3 seasons) and two interceptions (giving him 7 for his career).

The 6-1, 210-pound Smith, who returned 15 punts for 118 yards last fall, is only the eighth player in the 134-year history of the Northwestern program to be named a captain twice.

On opening day last fall, his first game back after the injury, he picked off Syracuse's Andrew Robinson and took it to the end zone to seal a win. The highlight was one of ESPN's top plays of the day.

Gordon DuBois registered two tackles on special teams last season as a redshirt freshman at Buffalo. The 6-1, 248-pound DuBois, who played just one year at Andover High, is a second-string defensive end.

Another Andoverite, sophomore Chris Shannon (6-5, 290) out of Phillips Academy, is the returning long-snapper at Duke, where he is also a reserve center.

Londonderry's 6-6, 240-pound Ryan Griffin redshirted last season but is in the mix for minutes as a freshman tight end at UConn. Coach Randy Edsall recently singled him out for having a fine camp. North Reading's Kevin Distaso(6-1, 222) returns to Boston College as a senior linebacker/long snapper. The hard-working walk-on is in the hunt for playing time this fall.

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