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Tracking the Stars of the Future

Football Recruiting Report
Sunday, January 13, 2008

By Sammy Batten

RECRUITING THUMBNAILS:  2006  •  2007  •  2008

Faulds to rejoin old 'buddy' at ECU

By Sammy Batten
All rights reserved.

Dalton Faulds is still in high school, but he’s already played with a Heisman Trophy winner.

Faulds has played offensive line the last three seasons on the varsity team at Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. Nease is also the alma mater of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who won this year’s Heisman Trophy as a sophomore.

During Tebow’s senior season at Nease in 2005, Faulds was a sophomore defensive lineman for the Panthers. Tebow was home schooled, so he didn’t attend classes at Nease. But Faulds said it was easy to recognize his potential on the football field.

“We figured he’d win a Heisman Trophy some day, but we thought it’d be in a few years,’’ Faulds said. “We didn’t expect it to happen this fast.’’

Faulds would move to the offensive line following Tebow’s graduation and only a knee injury prevented him from starting for two seasons on teams that posted 27 wins. The 6-foot-3, 278-pounder was selected to the Florida Times-Union All-First Coast team and the St. Augustine Record St. Johns County All-County team this season as he helped the Panthers to a 13-2 record and a berth in the Class 4A title game.

The next stop for Faulds will reunite him with another former Nease teammate in Greenville. Faulds has made a verbal commitment to East Carolina where he’ll join an offensive line corps that also includes Nease graduate Doug Polochak.

Polochak, who’ll be a sophomore next fall, played a significant role in enticing Faulds to ECU.

“East Carolina got involved with me early into my senior season, but I don’t think they thought I was interested in them,’’ Faulds said. “I had filled out a questionnaire about my interest, but I think it got lost or something. But my buddy Doug Polochak let them know I was still interested and a couple of weeks before the Thanksgiving break they offered ... a scholarship.’’

Faulds made an unofficial visit to Greenville on Oct. 20 to watch the Pirates play N.C. State. He returned with his parents on the weekend of Jan. 11 for his official visit.

“I committed because I love the place and the way the whole team seems like a close-knit family,’’ Faulds said. “Everybody just seemed to get along.’’

The family atmosphere at ECU reminds Faulds of the Nease program. Most of the players on his high school squad have been playing football together since ages “6 or 7’’ in the local Pop Warner league, according to Faulds.

They rose up together through the recreation and junior high ranks with an eye on one day playing at Nease.

“The last couple of years we were in rec league, the Nease coaches came down and helped us out,’’ Faulds said. “They even showed us some of the Nease offense. That’s how they sort of built the program, by starting out with the kids in the rec leagues.

“Now, all the guys in the program have been playing together since we were young. It’s like a big family, really.’’

Faulds was part of an unbeaten freshman team at Nease in his first year before moving to the varsity as a sophomore.

“He played a lot of defensive line for us that first year,’’ Nease coach Craig Howard said. “But we felt like he was better suited for offensive guard, so we converted him there as a junior and he was a starter for us.’’

But a few games into his junior year, Faulds suffered an ACL tear in his knee that forced him to the sidelines.

After a year of rehab, Faulds returned to action as a senior. He was not only an all-star performer for the Panthers, but one of the team’s leaders, according to Howard.

“He was a great leader and a great player for us,’’ Howard said. “He’s going to continue to improve in college because he hasn’t maxed out yet. East Carolina is getting a good one in Dalton.’’

Howard said Faulds might be more advanced in his blocking skills than Polochak when he left Nease.

“Doug was more of an offensive tackle for us, and he was a leaner kid with a bigger body type,’’ Howard said. “Dalton is a powerful offensive guard with speed to pull. Both had unique abilities. But I think Dalton is a little more polished coming out of high school at this point.’’

Faulds will probably experience another position shift at ECU. The Pirate coaching staff have spoken to him about moving to center, where depth has been a problem the last two seasons. Starting guard Matt Butler was listed as the backup to starter Stephen Heis at center for the Hawaii Bowl due to the lack of depth at the position.

Heis will be a junior next fall and Fred Hicks, who missed most of 2007 with an injury, will be a senior. They’re expected to be the top two centers in ’08 for ECU.

“Moving to center will be pretty good for me because I should have an opportunity to play early in my career and because I played center all through my Pop Warner years,’’ Faulds said. “I don’t know what will happen the first year, but I know it’s going to be awesome.’’

[View thumbnail sketches of all players verbally committed to join ECU's recruiting class of 2008.]

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01/13/2008 02:25:43 AM


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