FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 1, 2013
Danny Guadagnoli had to confront the unknown, the disappointments, and the hard decisions before he could come to an understanding about where his football life was going, and what it was.
It’s taken the Bentley University quarterback a long time to make peace with all of it.
At Framingham High, he was a star quarterback, throwing for more than 6,000 yards, a school record. "I started getting looks from Division I colleges as a sophomore," he says.
By the time he was a senior, even as he improved, big-time recruiters backed off.
Guadagnoli had his heart set on playing quarterback at Boston College. "I was smart enough to get into BC, but I got a rejection letter. I felt at a loss; utterly disappointed."
There had been talk about Guadagnoli going to BC as a priority walk-on; in other words, no scholarship. "I would have been drowned by scholarship players that they’d invested $200,000 in."
He chose to take a year at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. It was 2009. Life got more interesting and introspective for Guadagnoli. "It was a season of peaks and valleys," he says.
Guadagnoli thought the team would throw the ball more. Colleges would take note of his big arm, his mechanics. "My focus was on playing Division I football, and that’s all.
"But it doesn’t happen like magic."
Exeter went unbeaten, and it wasn’t like Guadagnoli’s play wasn’t pivotal to the team’s success. He made first team All-New England Prep. "And I’m not getting any Division I offers?" It stung. The dream to play at the highest level was only that: a dream.
Guadagnoli knew it was time for him to look at things differently, downsize the dream. Stare hard into the mirror. "Before, everything came easily to me in sports. Reality can be harsh at times."
At Framingham High, he also played baseball and basketball, and was named the Daily News Male Athlete of the Year. Hoops had been his favorite sport at first. He plays in a highly competitive intramural league at Bentley and sometimes plays five times a week in the offseason.
At Exeter, Guadagnoli learned to balance ambition with actuality, setbacks with good fortune. "Overall it was an amazing experience. I was from Framingham. That wasn’t my environment.
He made it his. He met teammates and other people he now calls "my friends." He got a fine education.
"Recruiting didn’t go the way I wanted," he recalled. "It was a great season. But it was bittersweet. I didn’t think I’d reached my potential. I thought I’d go there and tear it up."
Last season at Bentley, Guadagnoli did that. He threw for 2,344 yards, completing 61.7 percent of his passes. He was 24-for-39 against New Haven, threw for 344 yards against Assumption, connecting with Jeff Hill for the clinching TD on an 80-yard pass with less than a minute to play. He racked up 417 yards against Merrimack, 341 passing, 76 rushing. The Falcons finished 8-2 in the Division II Northeast-10 Conference.
How did it come out to be Bentley for Guadagnoli? "I could’ve gone to Bentley after high school," he says. Except he was carrying around that Division I dream, remember, which dissipated after the Exeter year. He says he considered Holy Cross, Villanova and Trinity, then thought, "whom I kidding? I wanted to go somewhere I was wanted."
Bentley was still there.
That was risky too. The Falcons had a standout quarterback in Milford’s Bryant Johnson. "I knew he was a great player," says Guadagnoli. "I remember hearing about him in high school," Framingham not being far from Milford. "I knew I’d be sitting for a year. There were five quarterbacks when I got there. I thought ‘this is going to be harder than I thought.’
"Then Johnson decided to play a fifth year. Now it was a two-year wait." He thought about transferring. "But I stuck it out." Now it’s Guadagnoli’s team. He says "BJ (Johnson) was a great mentor to me."
Guadagnoli was red-shirted as a freshman, so he has two years left. He sees this season as "a time to take the next step. I want us to be an elite team on a national scale."
The Falcons’ losses last season were to AIC and New Haven, both by four points. It gnaws at the 6-foot-1, 198-pound Guadagnoli that maybe if he’d made another play or two, those games would have gone in the win column. "This year, I want to make the critical play every time."
He had to win the QB job last season. "I didn’t know if I was going to start. I said ‘all right, I’ve got to earn my stripes.’"
He’s 22, the maturity evident now. A lot has gone down in his football career. He knows he’s in a good place now. "I’ve done everything I can. I feel grateful and fulfilled. I wasn’t babied. I had to earn everything."
And when everything that came easy no longer did, he was reinforced by the gut reminder that he belonged on a football field. It’s not Division I, but Bentley’s a terrific option. So now Danny Guadagnoli can say "I’m so excited to see how this pans out."