When playing football at the college level, especially Division I, it always helps to be versatile. It may not be the primary characteristic that a coach looks for, compared to speed, size or strength, but it can be one of those intangibles that helps to separate the premier players from the rest of the pack. John Sullivan, from Greenwich High School in Greenwich, Connecticut, has that versatility that can help a player at the college level.
Sullivan, who is being looked at by more than 30 Division I programs, can play on either side of the ball, either as an offensive or defensive lineman.
“I really don’t have a preference on position,” said Sullivan, who checks in at 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds. “I’ve been told I am a better defensive lineman, because of my ability to change direction.”
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The ability to change direction is not the only thing that helps Sullivan on the field, whether he is protecting his quarterback or going after the opposing one. Sullivan’s size is hidden in his athletic physique.
“I am 280 pounds, but you’d never tell looking at me,” said Sullivan. “I am blessed with size, but I am killing myself in the weight room. I work hard at what I do.”
To keep busy during the off seasons, Sullivan is also a member of Greenwich’s wrestling team. He says that the skills needed for wrestling have “helped with balance.” It has also helped him retain his health, as Sullivan has never had any injury problems.
Most of the schools that have made offers are within the northeast, including nearby UConn, Penn State, Syracuse, Rutgers and Boston College. However, after receiving offers from schools a little farther away, such as Northwestern, Virginia, Michigan State and defending national champions Miami, Sullivan is not adverse to the notion of traveling a little to play on the gridiron.
“I wouldn’t be uncomfortable going to a Miami or Northwestern,” said Sullivan.
But he won’t travel just for the sake of going somewhere new.
“I want to go where it will feel right.”
Wherever it does feel right, Sullivan is sure to bring a lot to the table. Last year he racked up 65 pancake blocks while on offense and took out the opposing quarterback 12 times when lining up on defense. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.9 seconds and he was named an all-state player in both his sophomore and junior seasons. As his numbers and accolades show, Sullivan makes a point of putting full effort into what he does.
“I want to be the best at what I do,” said Sullivan. “I want to work and get better. I don’t want to coast.”
Many in the recruiting business consider Sullivan to be one of the 100 top prospects in the country for next year’s recruiting class. Some say he is one of the best offensive linemen the state of Connecticut has produced in the last 10 years. These considerations will surely help Sullivan draw some more attention from the big programs before he has to sign to a school.
And he is not concerned about playing at a top program either, he just wants to play.
“My goal is to go where I go and play,” said Sullivan. “If I go to Miami, I go with the intention of playing.”
That is where versatility chips in. With skill and ability on both sides of the line, and numbers to back that ability up, Sullivan has a better chance of playing at a top program than your typical blocker or pass rusher.
Wherever he ends up playing college football, Sullivan will make the best of his chances, and just the fact that he will be getting the opportunity to do what he loves most in life will make him happy. The same can be said of the coach who happens to land the talented young man from Greenwich.