When Erik Russell made a verbal commitment to Wake Forest the other day, it got us thinking.
While there have been a solid number of Massachusetts players to either sign or verbal to Football Bowl Subdivision schools in recent years, it feels like many of those players have been along the offensive line.
So we went back to the 2010 recruiting class, as we felt like that would be a decent sample size, and tallied up how many players from Massachusetts signed on as offensive line recruits to the FBS. We also included players from this year's class who already have FBS offers.
All told, there were over 40 players from Massachusetts who made it to the FBS as offensive linemen. If there are more than that and players we missed, please let us know.
That's a significant amount, and shows that if you want to come to Massachusetts looking for offensive linemen, there will usually be somebody here for you.
Here's the list:
2010: Robert Vardaro, Phillips Andover (BC); Aaron Kramer, Duxbury (BC); Jeff Veinotte, St. Peter Marian (Buffalo); Jaryd Rudolph, Silver Lake (BC)
2011: Paul Nwokeji, Thayer (UConn); Liam Porter, Natick (BC); Max Ricci, Lawrence Academy (BC).
2012: Eric Olson, BB&N (Northwestern)
2013: John Montelus, Everett (Notre Dame); Jack McDonald, BC High (Virginia); Terrel Correia, Nantucket (UMass)
2014: Jon Baker, Millis (BC); James Hendren, Dexter (BC); Dan DiNicola, Dexter (UMass)
2015: Aaron Monteiro, Brockton (BC); Chris Lindstrom, Shepherd Hill (BC); Tyrell Smith, Cushing (Virginia Tech); Jake Benzinger, Mt. Greylock (Wake Forest); Derek Dumais, Marblehead (UMass); Joe Parsons, Xaverian (UMass); Matt Peart, Governor's (UConn).
2016: Cam DeGeorge, Lynnfield (UConn); Sean Ragan, St. John's (S) (BC); Eddy Fish, Lawrence Academy (Illinois); Shane Leonard, Marshfield (BC); Nino Leone, Pingree (UConn).
2017: Allan Rappleyea, Milton Academy (Wake Forest); Alec Lindstrom, Shepherd Hill (BC); Bobby Denaro, Nashoba (Iowa State).
2018: Finn Dirstine, Lawrence Academy (BC); Michael Sullivan, Nobles (UMass); Helber Fagundes, Everett (UMass)
2020: Ozzy Trapilo, BC High (Boston College); Zak Zinter, BB&N (Michigan); Kevin Pyne, Milford (BC); Zach Vaughan, Milton Academy (Wake Forest); Ethan Mottinger, North Attleboro (UMass); Dominik Behrens, Williston Northampton (UMass); Andrew Nee, BB&N (UMass, then JUCO); Declan Moriarty, Barnstable (Navy).
2021: Drew Kendall, Nobles (multiple FBS offers); Bennett Pitcher, Deerfield (multiple FBS offers); Erik Russell, BC High (Wake Forest); Nathan Roach, BB&N (multiple FBS offers).
One thing that jumped out is how some schools not named Boston College or UMass have had plenty of success here. Although a school like Michigan, which grabbed BB&N's Zak Zinter in the 2020 class, gets a lot of publicity for doing well locally, Wake Forest does a very underrated job. Other than Russell, Zach Vaughan, Allan Rappleyea, and Jake Benzinger have all signed with Wake in recent years.
Why have so many local offensive linemen found their way to FBS homes? That's an answer that is a little harder to find.
There exists the stereotype that the Northeast is filled with big, bad, mauling offensive linemen. Some of the coaches we talked to said that there is some truth to that archetype.
Also, it is true that Massachusetts has produced quality offensive linemen for a long time now.
Perhaps all of this is best summed up through Drew Kendall, a guard who plays for Nobles and is one of the highest-rated linemen in the country. His father, Pete, went to Archbishop Williams, then Boston College, and was a first-round draft pick.
The generational strength up front in Massachusetts can be seen in that one family.
Drew is a major recruit, but he is not alone in this cycle. Along with him, Bennett Pitcher of Deerfield, Russell, and Nathan Roach of BB&N all hold major offers.
It just so happens that Massachusetts has always been a place where you can get quality offensive linemen, and that does not seem to be changing anytime soon.