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
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
“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
“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
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
“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
“Now, all the guys in the
program have been playing together since we were young. It’s like a big
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
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
“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
“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.’’
thumbnail sketches of all players verbally committed to join ECU's
recruiting class of 2008.]