Two Big Green players, Colin Boit ’18 and Jack Heneghan ’18, receive calls to the NFL
Jack Heneghan ’18 was invited to Local Pro Day with the San Francisco 49ers, whom he later signed an undrafted free-agent contract with.
On Apr. 30, Dartmouth Football announced that tri-captain and quarterback Jack Heneghan ’18 and safety Colin Boit ’18 were on their way from the Ivy League to the National Football League. It was later confirmed that Heneghan had signed an undrafted free-agent contract with the San Francisco 49ers, while Boit had been invited to the Pittsburgh Steelers rookie mini camp this upcoming weekend in hopes of earning a contract with the team. It is an exciting time for Dartmouth Football, which adds two prospects, as well as most-recently drafted Ryder Stone ’18, who was selected on Friday, May 4 as the 38th overall pick to the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League, to the professional sports realm.
For Boit and Heneghan, playing at the next level was always a dream for them growing up.
“I didn’t necessarily know that I would have the opportunity at it, but it was definitely always a huge dream growing up that I wanted to play [professional] football,” Boit said.
Heneghan said that professional football wasn’t something that he seriously considered while at Dartmouth.
“I was pretty focused on what we were doing [at Dartmouth], but once the season had ended in November, I had the idea that getting a professional shot, either in the NFL or CFL, might be a possibility, so I stayed in shape and kept training,” Heneghan said.
To Coach Buddy Teevens ’79, Heneghan and Boit were both recruits who upon first impression were likeable, made good decisions and excelled at all aspects of the game.
Boit, a recruit from Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish, Washington, recorded no playing time with the varsity team his first year with the Big Green; however, he stepped up his sophomore year, playing in all ten games while recording seven total tackles and one interception. The following year, Boit played in all but two games and recorded 44 total tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and one interception. In his final season with the Big Green, Boit played in all 10 games and totaled 55 tackles, one fumble recovered and one interception.
Heneghan, a recruit from Menlo School in Atherton, California, recorded no playing time his first year with the Big Green either and played in only two of 10 games his sophomore year, where he threw for a total of 39 yards and completed five of 10 attempts. With the graduation of then-quarterback and former tri-captain Dalyn Williams ’16, Heneghan stepped up as the Big Green’s newest starting quarterback. In his junior season, Heneghan started all 10 games and threw for 2,725 yards, completing 247 of 414 throws for a 59.7 percent completion rate. He also recorded 14 touchdowns, 11 passing and three rushing, and 14 interceptions. The following year, Heneghan threw for 2,136 yards, achieving a 63.1 percent completion rate and recording 18 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Within the next few years under Teevens and his coaching staff, Boit and Heneghan grew both in terms of physical maturity and confidence. Teevens specifically noted improvement in Boit’s speed and the velocity of Heneghan’s throws.
“They are both dedicated workers in the weight room and both in speed and strength, [and are] both students of the game,” Teevens said. “It’s nice to work with guys who are so consistent. They are always prepared to play and are great examples to a lot of our younger players.”
The recruitment process, for most players, starts in the spring before their senior season. Schools host what is referred to as Junior Day, in which the draft-eligible players for the following year take part in a workout where scouts measures the players’ height, weight, hand size, reach and 40-meter dash times. The scouts also have the players take the Wonderlic test, a standardized test used to assess the aptitude of prospective employees for learning and problem-solving. Scouts also often view film, background information and injury history for each player. Sometime between the start of their junior season and the end of their senior seasons, players also often sign with an agent who will reach out to teams, talk to scouts and coaches on the player’s behalf and help players market themselves. All of this is in preparation for Pro Day, which, much like Junior Day, is when NFL scouts come to Dartmouth and run various tests on players.
Boit said that depending on how a player does on this day and if scouts like his game tape from the season, players can get invited to a local workout with their hometown team.
“I went to the [Seattle] Seahawks workout — this was a couple of weeks before the draft,” he said. “And then about a week and a half before the draft you will start to get calls from teams saying, ‘Hey, we’re interested. Be ready for a call if it works out.’”
Heneghan added that most people attribute the bulk of the NFL recruitment process to the Combine, where 250 players are invited to Indianapolis for a week-long showcase. However, many players are not invited to this; it’s usually just the highly-rated prospects that are invited.
“Players who aren’t invited will usually have worked out at local pro days,” Heneghan said. “I went to a Local Pro Day with the 49ers. Those are workouts open to players that went to high school or college in the vicinity of a team. That was one of the steps in the process and particularly helpful in meeting some of the coaches and staff at the 49ers.”
Boit and Heneghan both note that going to a smaller school like Dartmouth in a smaller league makes getting drafted much more difficult, so the main expectation is to either get signed or invited to a rookie mini camp to hopefully earn a contract there.
“I was pretty realistic and had a pretty good idea that I wouldn’t be drafted,” Heneghan said. “I understood that going into the draft and knew that my best kind of path was going to be through something that happened after the draft, so I was prepared to start going through the process once the draft was over. [I felt] really fortunate that things worked out the way they did because there is always some uncertainty in this kind of thing, and I was certainly feeling that as the draft was winding down.”
Boit echoed the sentiment.
“I heard a couple teams saying, ‘Maybe in the later rounds,’ but coming from a smaller school, it’s pretty typical that you’ll be called after the draft,” Boit said. “Saturday, after the draft, is when the nerves start to hit because you are just sitting by your phone, and then when an unknown number calls is the only time when it is a good feeling. The moments after that call were so satisfying, thinking about all of the work that I put it and it culminating into one moment for that opportunity.”
Throughout the whole process, Boit and Heneghan noted how supportive their coaches, teammates, family and friends were of them, and how excited and somewhat surprised they all were to hear about each respective offer.
“I think some of them were surprised and that was exciting to see, and most of them were just really happy for me and really excited to share the moment with me, so that made it really special,” Heneghan said. “It vindicated a lot of the support teammates, family and friends had put into my career at Dartmouth and prior to Dartmouth, so to see those people who cared about me excited about it made the moment really special.”
Boit and Heneghan both found former Big Green players Folarin Orimolade ’17 and Charlie Miller ’17, who signed as undrafted free agents last year with the Los Angeles Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars, respectively, to be useful mentors throughout the process.
“They have helped keep my eye on the ball and determine what is important and what to disregard throughout the process,” Boit said.
Additionally, Heneghan has sought out advice from coach Kevin Daft, who is the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach.
“He played in the NFL for a number of years out of college as a quarterback and had some really helpful advice throughout the training [and recruiting] process,” Heneghan said. “The advice is a little bit of what you would expect. Everyone has preached the value of hard work and preparation, and the same kind of things are expected as a Dartmouth football player, but at a higher level given the stiffer competition. I think they have encouraged me to go in as prepared as I can and to enjoy the process and not get stressed out by it.”
As for preparing for their respective rookie mini camps, Boit and Heneghan both hope to go in and show the coaches just what they are made of.
“I’m just hoping to keep learning and improving,” Heneghan said. “To play at the NFL level, I understand that I need to get better in almost every facet of my game, and so I’m excited for this weekend to be the first step in that process.”
Teevens added that intelligence will provide the greater edge in terms of evaluation for both Boit and Heneghan.
“As I told the pro guys that we spoke with, [Boit and Heneghan] will both learn their schemes and playbooks more rapidly than anyone else around,” Teevens said. “They have a natural feel for it, it makes sense spatially. In terms of seeing a broad picture, they are very capable of doing that. Just on the academic side, they are not averse to sitting down, concentrating and studying for an extended period and digesting some of the things that are so important in an NFL camp.”
While the odds have certainly been in Boit and Heneghan’s favor thus far, nothing is guaranteed quite yet.
For Boit, the goal will be to earn a contract with the Steelers throughout the mini camp, and if that doesn’t work out, to sign with another team. If signing with another team doesn’t work out, he has a job offer to start in September as a programming manager at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. Likewise, for Heneghan, if professional football were to not work out, he plans to work in private equity at an investment firm he interned with in San Francisco.