On the day Catholic Memorial senior Will Stockwell verbally committed to play both football and lacrosse at Williams College last September, he made a connection that further piqued his ambitions.
Stanford linebackers coach Eric Sanders sent Stockwell a follow request on Twitter and within a few days, extended a preferred walk-on offer to the 6-foot-2-inch, 205-pound senior from Hyde Park.
With his lacrosse season cancelled last spring and football season postponed due to the pandemic, Stockwell said he thought his chances of landing a Division 1 offer were slim.
So after taking a virtual tour of Stanford, he put his dreams of playing college lacrosse aside and leapt at the chance to play Pac-12 football.
“I discussed it with my family and thought there is no way I can turn down this opportunity,” said Stockwell. “This is once-in-a-lifetime that this type of school gives you a chance to be a student-athlete. I wanted to see if I could play at the D1 level, to play against the best.”
Stockwell is a four-year varsity player at CM and began his career as a special teams ace. He stepped in at linebacker after a few teammates went down with injury, and never looked back, eventually becoming a wild card defender for John DiBiaso’s staff.
As a junior, Stockwell played safety, linebacker, cornerback, and even some defensive end while helping the Knights to their first Super Bowl appearance since 1978. That versatility is part of what drew the attention of Stanford’s coaching staff.
“[Sanders] explained to me that at the end of the day, inside linebackers in college do things similar to what I’ve been doing in high school,” said Stockwell. “You’re expected to cover guys and stop the run, so in a sense I’ve been preparing for that role at the next level.”
At 4 p.m. Wednesday, Stockwell signed his formal commitment letter to Stanford, joining fellow CM linebacker Owen McGowan, who signed his national letter of intent to play at Boston College earlier in the day. McGowan will be joined at BC by Nobles linebacker Casey Phinney, of Marshfield.
Other star players staying local include Nobles tight end Ryan Mosesso (UMass), Natick quarterback Will Lederman (Bentley), Dexter lineman Marcus Parrara (Tufts), and Attleboro linebacker Mike Strachan (Rhode Island). Milford linebacker Dom Schofield and quarterback Brady Olson are also headed to UMass.
“I’m excited to announce that I’m staying home to continue my academic and athletic career at the University of Massachusetts!” Olson tweeted in May, before making it official on Wednesday.
And the pipeline from the Bay State to Ann Arbor, Mich., continued with St. Sebastian’s tight end Louis Hansen and Mansfield defensive end T.J. Guy signing to play at Michigan.
Guy, who tallied 43 tackles and five sacks while helping Mansfield to a Division 2 Super Bowl last winter, signed at Mansfield’s Mass Premier Courts prior to basketball practice.
Local football players who announced, or finalized their commitments on Wednesday:
OL Tyler Chan, Lowell/Lawrence Academy (Notre Dame)
OL Greg Crippen, Northborough/IMG (Michigan)
RB Matt DeVirglio, Dedham (Stonehill)
OLB Quincy Eutsay, Canton/Catholic Memorial (Brown)
OL John Iannuzzi, Belmont/Dexter (Columbia)
QB Will Lederman, Natick (Bentley)
DL, Kevin Gillis, Hamilton/Governor’s Academy (Holy Cross)
DL T.J. Guy, Mansfield (Michigan)
TE Louis Hansen, Dover/St. Sebastian’s (Michigan)
OL A.J. Heidtke, Andover (Brown)
WR Daniel Lopes, Catholic Memorial/Cheshire Academy (Villanova)
LB Owen McGowan, Canton/Catholic Memorial (BC)
TE Ryan Mosesso, Marshfield/Nobles (UMass)
DL Will Ohler, Lincoln-Sudbury (Bucknell)
QB Brady Olson, Milford (UMass)
DL Marcus Parara, Boston/Dexter (Tufts)
ILB Casey Phinney, Marshfield/Nobles (BC)
OL Nathan Roach, Nashua, N.H./BB&N (Navy)
TE Eni Falayi, Peabody/Williston Northampton (UMass)
OL Erik Russell, Scituate/BC High (Wake Forest)
LB Dom Schofield, Milford (UMass)
DE Josaiah Stewart, Everett (Coastal Carolina)
LB Michael Strachan, Attleboro (Rhode Island)
OT Sean Sullivan, Westborough/St. John’s of Shrewsbury (Yale)
DL Collin Taylor, North Andover/St. John’s Prep (Princeton)
WR Emmanuel Tshowa, Winthrop/Dexter (Colby)
DB Luke Yamashiro, Brookline/Dexter (Wheaton College [Ill.])
DL Jaden Young, Cambridge/BB&N (Navy)