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By Josh Perry
Hometown Weekly Staff
It was Saturday, Oct. 31 and the Wellesley High football team was hosting Bay State Conference rival Braintree in a Div. 2 South playoff game at Hunnewell Field when the news started to filter through the stands.
Former Raider John Fadule, a walk-on freshman who started the season with the Eagles’ scout team, had just taken over as the quarterback for Boston College in an ACC game against Virginia Tech at Alumni Stadium.
Fadule went 8-20 that day, throwing for 143 yards with one interception and running 15 times for 53 yards. It had been a long path to Chestnut Hill, but that sunny afternoon Fadule fulfilled his dream of playing for a Division I program.
“It was crazy,” recalled Fadule, who took time out of his off-season workouts to speak about his freshman season. “I felt like I was out of breath by the time I got behind center, before I even yelled out the cadence.”
He had started the season on the scout team but with injuries and an offensive unit that was struggling, Fadule started moving up the depth chart. Still, when the coaches tapped him on the shoulder pads and told him that it was his turn, Fadule was “shocked.”
“ I remember like jogging across the field,” he said, “and hearing the whistle blow to start the play clock and we’re all running onto the field and it was like, are you kidding me?”
Fadule does not lack for confidence. He always believed that he was capable of playing at the collegiate level, but there is a significant jump from playing in the ISL for Milton Academy or at Wellesley High or even with Choate during his post-graduate year to the business-like world of high-level Div. I football.
“I’ve always believed in myself and I was listening to all the coaches’ speeches about just persevere and don’t complain and just stay at it and be humble,” he explained. “I really liked my attitude and just stuck with it. I tried to keep that positive, tough mindset.”
He would play in the final three games as the Eagles quarterback. In his second game against North Carolina State, he threw his first collegiate touchdown pass and completed 62 percent of his throws in a losing effort.
About that first touchdown drive, Fadule said, “It was amazing but we still had ground to make up so I just got water and talked on the phone. I remember a bunch of people came up to me and gave me high-fives or hard slaps on the back and those are hard to come by at this level.”
It is remarkable that Fadule was even at this level, considering it was only his third season as a quarterback. When he transferred to Wellesley for his senior year, Fadule jumped under center and led the Raiders to their first playoff appearance since 1999, while breaking 11 school records and throwing for more than 2,000 yards. It was a year that he will never forget.
“Playing for your hometown is really special and people seeing you around town and saying, go get them,” he said. “There were these old guys to get all riled up for the high school games.”
“It was a really special time in my life. I knew that while it was happening, so I made sure to enjoy every team dinner and every bus ride, every game, every practice…I met a bunch of friends that I still have three years later.”
Despite putting together a stellar season, Fadule was not highly recruited. He decided to go to Choate Rosemary Hall (Wallingford, Conn.) and reclassify to get one more year to show scouts what he can do. It turned into a “fairy tale” season as the Wild Boars rolled to a 10-0 season and the NEPSAC title.
“I went to an amazing team with an amazing coach,” Fadule explained, “and it all worked out. We beat some highly touted teams and some highly touted high school recruits and it was great.”
It was also a year of significant personal growth, as Fadule learned some of the more advanced skills needed to play quarterback at the next level. He started to read defenses more, worked on his quick release, and began to rely on his arm rather than his legs, as he had in high school.
He said, “I went into Choate and I look back on then and say, wow I was all over the place. At Wellesley, I was just running…I got a ton better.”
Div. I scouts were still not knocking down his door, so Fadule reached out to BC coach Barry Gallup, a Wellesley resident whose son Barry, Jr. had been a counselor at youth camps Fadule attended. They started having long conversations and Gallup convinced Fadule that there was a place for him as a walk-on with the Eagles.
“He believed in me and he told me that I could walk on here,” Fadule explained. “I could just tell that this guy was looking out for me.”
Playing Div. I football sounds glamorous, but the scout team is far from the glory. Still, it was an opportunity, a foot in the door, and it was one that Fadule could not pass up.
“I didn’t want to give up on my dream. If it doesn’t work out then at least I tried it. Years later, I don’t have to look back and say, what if I had decided to take the risk to play for a Div. I team?”
BC is a world away from the football programs that Fadule had experienced to that point. The players are bigger, strong, and faster and there is a “seriousness” to the game and the preparation that is hard to match outside the collegiate setting.
When asked what the hardest part of his transition to college was, Fadule replied, “I was the starter at three different schools prior and I came in and was the bottom, dead last, I was a complete after thought and it was hard going from the top of the barrel to the bottom of the barrel.”
From the bottom of the barrel to starting against Notre Dame at Fenway Park, Fadule has come a long way in just one season at Chestnut Hill and now he is enjoying an off-season of working out and preparing for next fall. The quarterback situation is fluid for the Eagles at the moment and Fadule did not want to speculate on what the future may hold.
“I just want to go as far as I can with the running, lifting, and throwing, and be as prepared as I can,” he said. “I’m just going to go as hard as I can, so that way I don’t have to regret anything.”
Josh Perry is an Editor at Hometown Weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @Josh_Perry10.