My how things have changed for Owen Snively.
Not even an Eagle-Tribune All-Star (top 30 players in our area) last fall as a senior at Sanborn Regional, suddenly he’s a bigtime college recruit.
As the Tilton (N.H.) School postgrad put it: “I definitely knew I had it in me. I always pictured myself playing bigtime college football.”
But last year his best offer was a preferred walk-on (non-scholarship) offer from UNH.
After an impressive summer at camps and on the field this fall at Tilton, he’s been offered by Division 1-A schools like Syracuse, Pitt, UConn and Kent State as well as a host of 1-AA schools.
First-year Tilton head coach Matt Dawson has been a college coach at Oregon, UMass and Fordham among other schools and his brother, Mike Dawson, is a linebackers coach with the NFL’s New York Giants. So when he talks, you listen.
Here is what he said about Snively, a 6-5, 270-pounder with a 315-pound bench press: “He is as good as he wants to be. He’s big, strong, athletic, can change directions. He’s everything you want. He’s really something to watch.”
Dawson may have seen a first with Snively this fall.
“He was blocking too aggressively and was thrown out of a game,” said a still baffled Dawson. “I don’t even know what that means. He’s physically dominated every kid he’s played against.”
The measurables were there but Snively’s college interest skyrocketed when he changed positions. It may sound good to say you’re the massive tight end/outside linebacker but often it’s a reach.
Dawson said, “After 5-6 days of practice, I asked him: ‘Do you want to be a tight end/defensive end or do you want to go to college for free?’”
That was the easiest question since Corvette or Camry?
Dawson told him, “Change the 40 to a 50 and you’ll get a full scholarship.”
In other words, you’re an interior lineman. And, yes, he wears No. 50.
Phone rings off hook
Dawson continued, “After four games, we sent out a highlight film on a Friday at 9 a.m. By noon, all five schools had offered full scholarships.”
Many of his big offers had ties to the Dawson family. Pitt offensive coordinator Mark Whipple was the Dawson boys’ coach at UMass, where the brothers starred and Matt played on the 1998 national championship team. Mike Dawson was good friends with an assistant at Syracuse.
Matt recalls sending the film to a University of Virginia coach and asking, “Is he a legitimate 1-AA player?”
He said the immediate response from the UVA coach was, “No, he’s a 1-A player.”
One thing which has held Snively back is academics. He admits he should have studied harder and he also was thrown for a major loop when his father, Robert Snively, died his junior year in high school.
“I was out of school two weeks,” said Snively, who thought he deserved a lot more respect statewide last fall. “I lost all motivation. It really messed with my grades. He was definitely my best friend. I was wicked sad and depressed.”
Snively was a star shotputter at Sanborn (best of 47-9) and, scary as it might sound, a hockey player.
“I liked to hit a lot. I liked the big hits,” he said of his hockey career.
Hockey is in his blood as his great-grandfather, A. Barr “Whoop” Snively, was the UNH coach and the Wildcats’ old rink, “Lively Snively” Arena, was named after him. Whoop was also the Princeton football captain in 1923.
The great-grandfather was Whoop and Owen has been known to, um, whoop butt. But not always.
It’s hard to believe, but the massive Snively was a soccer player growing up in Fremont.
Owen said, “Freshman year was my first year of football. I was a little overweight, about 6-2, 250 or 260 pounds. I definitely wasn’t toned. When the coaches saw me the first day of school, they said, ‘You have to play football.’”
Originally, Snively had planned to do his postgrad year at Bridgton Academy in Maine.
“A little before May, I switched,” he said. “Coach Dawson and Tilton were a better fit. And I got more money.”
Takes a village
Snively knows Dad is proud.
“He’d be very proud and have a big smile on his face,” said Snively, who will turn 19 in April.
When his father died, a lot of people stepped up for Snively.
He credits his mom, Marcia Snively, who lives in Mendon, Massachusetts. And his sister, former Sanborn and Plymouth State scholar-athlete Shannnon Snively, who is now in the National Guard and living in Plaistow, Also, Sean Paradis, father of former Sanborn and current Tilton teammate Jackson Paradis.
He called Sean Paradis “like a second father.”
Local talent fuels Tilton
Owen Snively is, of course, the headliner but Tilton has a couple other area standouts.
Jackson Paradis, Snively’s close friend, is a 6-0, 225-pound repeat sophomore from Kingston. Last fall at Sanborn, he rushed for 899 yards and 11 TDs and overall scored 88 points.
Tilton coach Matt Dawson said of the running back/linebacker, “He’ll be following in Owen’s footsteps. He has 1-AA offers already. This year he had Jackson had 116 carries for 823 yards and 7 TDs in six games.”
Will McKinnon is a versatile 5-11, 180-pound sophomore who attended Methuen High last year as a freshman.
Dawson said, “He played wherever I needed a guy. He’s smart enough to play all the different positions.”