Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Two Central Mass Seans Prepare for Major College Football

Shepherd Hill's Sean McKeon (86) and St. John's (Shrewsbury)'s Sean Ragan (77) will each take their games to college football's highest level next season.
By Joe Parello (@HerewegoJoe)

On the eve of National Signing Day, a pair of Seans from the Heart of the Commonwealth each have plans to play college football at the major-conference level next season.

Sean McKeon, an athletic tight end and defensive end, has already begun his journey. The former Shepherd Hill star enrolled mid-year at the University of Michigan, and is currently getting settled academically and athletically in Ann Arbor.

"So far it's been a great experience," McKeon said of his time on campus so far. "It was a little rough getting used to my class schedule and workouts, but once I got settled in everything was fine. Class is a lot of work, but there is a lot of academic support here for me. The workouts are hard but, obviously, that's expected at one of the best football schools in the country."

Sean Ragan, a versatile and bruising offensive lineman, will officially end his recruitment tomorrow when he signs his National Letter of Intent to play football for Boston College.

As fate would have it, these two local stars actually opened the 2015 high school football season playing against each other. Ragan's St. John's (Shrewsbury) Pioneers got the better of McKeon's Rams, winning 19-8 at home. St. John's found success running the ball behind Ragan, who played left tackle and battled McKeon for most of the game, but McKeon was able to register a sack and another tackle for loss as well.

While his squad did get the win, Ragan came away more than impressed with McKeon, and wishes his former rival all the best at Michigan.

"I love seeing guys leaving the 508 to do big things," Ragan said of McKeon. "He's a great player. I think he's one of the fastest guys I've played against. He's got great speed. That was a big challenge at the beginning of the season."

That speed should serve the former Ram well, but so too should his physicality and experience blocking. During his time at Shepherd Hill, McKeon became a fixture in the team's Double Wing offense, both as a receiver off bootleg action and, perhaps more importantly, as a brutal run blocker.

That blocking ability will be critical in the Big Ten, a conference long known for smash-mouth football, but his speed and ability as a receiver could make him a contributor in Michigan coach John Harbaugh's balanced and tight end-heavy attack.

Harbaugh's success developing tight ends, both at Stanford and in the NFL with San Francisco, factored heavily into McKeon's decision to attend Michigan, and many believe his combination of size (6-foot-5 and around 240 lbs) and speed could make him a weapon similar to former Stanford stars Zach Ertz and Coby Fleener.

"It's definitely really cool to be able to play for a coach like coach Harbaugh and I'm really excited," McKeon said. "A big reason I chose Michigan was because he uses a lot of tight ends in his offense and develops them well."

While McKeon is already far from home, Ragan is still in Massachusetts, and will remain there for the foreseeable future. After a recruitment process that began as early as his sophomore year, with an offer from Holy Cross, Ragan committed to Boston College last February, choosing to BC's combination of football and academics.

The choice wasn't easy for Ragan, though, as an offer from the Miami Hurricanes, and even a visit to Coral Gables, nearly sent the Pioneer lineman to the Sunshine State.

"At the beginning, I wasn't really sure what I was going to do. I toured Miami and really liked it," Ragan said. "But (my) number one (priority) was academics. I want to do some kind of business, and Boston College has a top-notch business school... And, it's only an hour away, so all my family and friends can come watch me. It's a pretty good deal."

Ragan also spoke fondly of the chance to play with several former Central Mass stars in Chestnut Hill. Chris Lindstrom, a 2015 graduate of Shepherd Hill, saw extensive action at offensive guard for the Eagles last year, and former Doherty star Isaac Yiadom impressed as a regular at cornerback. Ragan's former St. John's teammate Davon Jones will also be entering his second season at Boston College.

"It'll be great to play with those guys, it wasn't at the top of my list, but I'm excited," Ragan said. "I've met Chris (Lindstrom) a few times. We hate Shepherd Hill and they hate us, but now we get to be friends." Ragan added with a chuckle.

At around 6-foot-4 and over 290 lbs, Ragan was perhaps the state's most dominant run blocker this past season, and his footwork has improved with each year. Throughout his career, Ragan has played both guard and tackle, and lined up on both sides of the offensive line. That versatility should help him find a role on a young and improving Boston College line.

While the Seans are the two highest-profile recruits in Central Mass, tune back in to SuiteSports Wednesday for more National Signing Day coverage of the entire state of Massachusetts.

No comments :