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The Dartmouth
May 27, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Three Dartmouth football alums get a shot at the NFL

Isaiah Johnson ’22 was signed by the Miami Dolphins, John Pupel ’22 was invited to the New England Patriots minicamp and Quinten Arello ’24 was invited to the Tennessee Titans’ minicamp.


Three current or former members of Dartmouth football — Isaiah Johnson ’22, John Pupel ’22 and Quinten Arello ’24 — got a shot at the National Football League last week.

On April 27, Johnson was signed by the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted free agent — a rookie player who was not selected during the NFL draft but can still sign with a roster afterward. Johnson played cornerback and special teams for three seasons at Dartmouth — his 2020-2021 season was canceled due to COVID-19 — before transferring to Syracuse in 2022 for his master’s degree.

Pupel, who played defensive back for three years at Dartmouth before grad transferring to Boston College in 2022, received a minicamp invitation from the New England Patriots. Minicamps typically last two to three days and are opportunities for rookies, especially those who go undrafted, to make an impression and try to land a spot on the team’s roster.

Safety Arello received a mini-camp invitation from the Tennessee Titans after playing four years at Dartmouth. He will graduate as a member of the Class of 2024 this spring.

The success of these players has been a source of pride for their Dartmouth coaches and teammates. Football head coach Sammy McCorkle, who was the secondary and special teams coach from 2005 to 2022, said he is proud of the players’ hard work and excited by their potential. 

“I’m super excited for those guys,” McCorkle said. “They put in a lot of time, effort and hard work. They believed in their coaches, their teammates and, most importantly, they believed in themselves, and that’s why they have gotten to where they are.”

Safety Leonard St. Gourdin ’24, who has been a teammate of Arello, Johnson and Pupel, also praised the athletes. 

“When you see your teammates out there following their dreams, you just sit there with a smile on your face,” St. Gourdin said. “They are are phenomenal guys, and I’m so happy to see them stepping into this new light as professional football players.”

As a recruit, Johnson was a highly regarded prospect and received offers from multiple Ivy League programs, according to McCorkle. As soon as Johnson committed to the Big Green, McCorkle said he knew he was destined for “big things.”

“Isaiah was a huge recruit that we landed, and we knew his capabilities as a football player early on,” McCorkle said. “He was always trying to get better, and his confidence on the football field became contagious.”

Johnson’s confidence and hard work was immediately apparent to his teammates. As freshmen on the team when Johnson was a senior, quarterback Jackson Proctor ’25 and linebacker Braden Mullen ’25 said they admired Johnson’s work ethic.

“The first thing I noticed about him was that he was super focused,” Proctor said. “He made sure to get his stuff done, whether that was school, watching film or doing extra reps after practice. Because of that, I could tell from the jump that he was going to be special.”

Mullen also expressed admiration for Johnson’s work ethic, as well as his leadership abilities. 

“One time in my freshman spring, Isaiah spent 30 minutes helping us on one drill, just trying to get us right,” Mullen said. “He knew that he was going to have to spend a little longer on the field himself, but that was worth it to him if it meant that we would get better.”

Arello, who earned playing time in his freshman year, quickly became a well-respected leader on the defensive side of the ball. He was named a team captain for his final two years at Dartmouth.

“Quinten always led by example,” Proctor said. “He constantly pushed himself and other players, and [he] makes everybody around him better.”

St. Gourdin also said the team “could see and feel Quinten’s support every single practice.”

“For the kids that ended up getting their chances, he was the first person to show up and say ‘congratulations,’” St. Gourdin said.

McCorkle said he was especially impressed with Arello’s football intelligence and growth during his time at Dartmouth — both mentally and physically.

“Quinten is a very smart football player,” McCorkle said. “As he was developing physically, he was learning and understanding our defensive schemes, and he was able to develop trust right away [with] his teammates — even the older guys.”

After completing his undergraduate education at Dartmouth, Pupel had a successful season with Boston College in 2023, earning an All-New England selection. Teammates still maintain a strong bond with him and are proud of his success.

“John had a great season with BC this past year,” Mullen said. “I text him all the time, congratulating him for his accolades and asking for advice.”

The success and hard work of all three players motivates current Dartmouth players who seek to follow in their footsteps, Mullen added. 

“It’s motivational and inspirational,” he said. “It’s great to see their dreams come to fruition, and it lets us in the locker room know that, ‘Hey, this is possible. You can go do it.’”

St. Gourdin explained that the players’ success reflects the strength of Dartmouth’s football program. 

“I think it shows every single kid that comes through Dartmouth that the NFL is within reach,” St. Gourdin said. “Being in the FCS [NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision], we might be overlooked compared to bigger FBS [Football Bowl Subdivision] or Power 5 programs, but it shows that this program can take you to the next level — you’ve just got to work hard for it.”

Arello, Johnson and Pupel, who are now looking to impress their respective teams, know that the job is not yet finished.

“They will be the first to tell you that there’s still a lot of work left for them,” Mullen said.