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.