Shrewsbury (Mass.) St. John’s head coach John Andreoli had not pulled up many freshmen to the varsity squad over the years, but he and his staff made the call to bring Eamonn Dennis up before their 2016 season. If nothing else, the elusive youngster could help them on special teams.
That fall, against powerhouse Shrewsbury High, Dennis took a first-half kickoff 96 yards for a score. It was his team’s only touchdown of the first half in a game in which it would mount a second-half comeback to win a 38-35 thriller.
Several years later, Dennis is one of the best players in the state, is committed to Michigan and still a threat in every phase of the game.
“He’s been part of our program since his freshman year and not many have done that,” Andreoli said. “He established himself immediately. He had a high football I.Q. and the maturity level to come in and grasp our system. We run spread, no-huddle, and he can excel in different spots on offense as a slot receiver or a running back, and then on defense he can come in and play corner, and he’s done that for us many times. So he had versatility, athleticism, football I.Q. and he has continued to mature as he’s gone through the program.”
Dennis (5-11, 173 pounds) has also run track since an early age and clocked a 4.52 40-yard dash on a laser timer at The Opening Regionals in April. He also vertical jumped 40 inches at the same event. That speed and his overall versatility allowed him to score 16 total touchdowns last fall, including three special-teams scores.
“He is an electric athlete with great vision and sub-4.5, 4.4 speed,” Andreoli said. “He has the ability to break away from defenders and couples that with great vision, so he has been a prolific scorer for us and is a great kid, a great part of our program going into his senior year."
Listed as an athlete by 247Sports, Michigan’s plan is to use Dennis as an all-purpose back and slotback as he fits the mold of what new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis wants in the open field. His area recruiter, defensive coordinator Don Brown, may have interest in stealing him, though.
“I always say your greatest ability is your availability so there are so many things he can do because he is athletically great,” Andreoli said.
After winning state titles the last two seasons (Dennis scored three touchdowns in last year’s title game), St. John’s is poised to be a top contender again this fall with Dennis and Notre Dame-bound Jay Brunelle returning.
That was part of both of their decisions to be done with recruiting before the fall. The other part of that was that Dennis found, in Michigan, a place to take advantage of his unique skillset.
“He had a lot of activity since going back to his sophomore year,” Andreoli said. “He went through the process and tried to keep focused in what he could do that day to get better. He had a very thoughtful process. For him – and all kids – to make a commitment and put that to bed and move onto his senior year, I’m glad it came together for him where he said academics, level of play and the coaching staff all really fit well with him.”
Dennis is one of Michigan’s 22 commitments in its 2020 recruiting class.
Allen Trieu covers Midwest football recruiting for 247Sports. He has been featured on the Big Ten Network on its annual Signing Day Show. His Michigan and Michigan State recruiting columns appear weekly at detroitnews.com.