By Jean DePlacido
---- — Bates College in Lewiston, Maine was the only Division 3 school that St. John’s Prep football captain James Fagan was interested in.
It was, he said, a perfect collegiate fit for him in every way.
The outstanding center, who was both a Catholic Conference and Salem News all-star, had talked to several Division 2 colleges in the Northeast-10 including Bentley, Stonehill and Merrimack. But in the end, Bates won out for Fagan because of the school’s academic reputation and quality of the football program.
The Lynnfield native loved the combination of academics and NESCAC football that the Bobcats offer. “I’m sold on the school itself and love the idea of playing in the NESCAC because of the excellent competition,” said Fagan, the only senior on the Division 1 state Super Bowl champion’s outstanding offensive line this past season.
“Having the chance to get a Bates degree was too much to turn down, and that’s such a fun conference. I know I’ll keep running into teammates and players I went up against throughout the season.”
Fagan had switched his application to Bates to early decision Round 2 on the advice of coaches after being told they had a spot on the football team for him.
Last year the Bobcats had a 4-4 record under 14th year head coach Mark Harriman. Former St. John’s Prep player Kevin Davis is a wide receiver for the team while Larry Guinee from Peabody (who attended Malden Catholic) is an offensive lineman there.
“James was originally a tight end, but we made him a center (two years ago),” said Prep head coach Jim O’Leary. “He solidified our offensive line after working very hard in the offseason. He’s a great kid and his teammates love him. Bates is a very good choice for him.”
Fagan made all the calls from his center sport and anchored a solid offensive line that helped the Eagles rush for close to 3,000 yards.
The 6-foot-2, 245-pounder has a 3.3 GPA and is a smart, steady player.
“They told me plans are to use me at center, which is where I feel I belong,” said Fagan. “Bates runs a zone-type offense, and it involves getting to the second level and blocking linebackers.
“Their coaches said they liked my footwork. I’m a little undersized even going against some of the kids I faced this season, but they’re not worried about my size. They want to put me on a program to gain a little more weight and be up by 20-25 pounds to around 270 by my sophomore year. They’re only losing two starters on the line and told me they’d start the five best on the offensive line. Nothing is guaranteed; you have to earn your playing time.”
Fagan plans to work hard to get ready for next year, lifting and working out. But the biggest weight off his shoulders has been lifted now that he knows where he’ll be the next four years.