By John Orrell, Contributing Writer
Westborough/Shrewsbury – When it came time to decide, there was virtually no hesitation in the mindset of Westborough’s Sean Ragan.
Ragan, one of the region and state’s most dominant linemen and co-captain of St. John’s High School’s varsity football program, has been courted by Atlantic Coast Conference powerhouse University of Miami, Holy Cross College and undoubtedly additional would-be suitors had he not committed to join head coach Steve Addazio’s Boston College (BC) Eagles in February.
As one of the state’s top five high school football players as rated by Scout.com, Ragan brings an intensity and superior pass- and run-blocking ability that would render him a coveted addition to any Division 1 school. But there was a special reason that drew him to Newton Heights with the promise of a full scholarship.
Ragan’s parents, Katie and John, are graduates of BC, as are a number of other family members. John played tight end at Boston College from 1987-90. Family tradition and perhaps the draw of the most compatible program overall were huge selling points. The Eagles have a rich tradition of developing successful offensive linemen earning them the moniker “O-Line U.”
Ragan will be the sixth offensive lineman over the last three BC recruiting classes to come out of New England. The Eagles have sent numerous players on to the National Football League including Indianapolis Colts’ Anthony Castonzo and Tampa Bay’s Gosder Cherilus, both offensive tackles. But any talk beyond college is premature, he admits.
“If I ever get the opportunity to play professionally, that would be crazy,” said Ragan. “That’s anyone’s dream. If that opportunity comes up, it would be amazing. But I’m not looking at that right now. I’m focusing on college and being the best that I can be.”
At 6’5”, 295 lbs., Ragan is initially an imposing presence, but his welcoming and warm disposition renders him otherwise almost instantly. He is cordial, affable and articulate, almost belying the perception that gridiron giants are of the opposite ilk. But when the whistle blows and it is game-on, Ragan is all business.
“Sean is a leader on the field and off,” said Pioneer Head Coach John Andreoli. “He’s actively engaged in the school and is respected by his teammates who voted him as captain. He has tremendous ability and works hard and always applies himself whether it be in class, the weight room or on the field.
“When Sean crosses that line and steps on the field he becomes an intense competitor and when he steps off, he’s a gentleman. He’s just a great kid and it’s been a pleasure to have coached him.”
“Sean has my back on and off the field,” said Pioneer quarterback and close friend Tim Cassidy. “He’s highly skilled and does whatever it takes for the team. He’s a great team leader and his size and physicality are awesome. He’s an amazing presence on our offensive line. It’s been so great having him on the team these last three years.”
“I try to be a nice guy and really open with people but when I get on the field I say to myself that it’s time to go crush some people and it’s full speed every day,” Ragan said.
Ragan’s love for sports developed early on and it was basketball that initially drew his attention. He competed for St. John’s at the freshman and JV level, but it was his introduction to football in the seventh grade that opened his eyes to an entire new calling admitting that basketball was “no longer the same caliber of love as football.”
As an eighth-grader, he became a member of the Westborough Rangers youth team, was named a Central Mass. All-Star and was given the opportunity to compete against comparable players in Florida.
Ragan was selected for the Pioneer JV team as a freshman before becoming a starter at right guard a year later. He credits hard work for the success he has achieved, but also acknowledges that he was fortunate to have had profound influences along the way.
“I learned early on that in life that what you put in is what you get out so I have practiced a lot and spent a lot of time in the weight room,” he said. “But I have been so lucky to have had my parents as my biggest fans and they always will be. They’ve been there the whole time to encourage me. The coaching staff at St. John’s, everyone there, has been amazing with the help and support they’ve given me along the way.”
As a senior co-captain, Ragan is aware that his role on the team is much more than deciphering plays and keeping his quarterback upright. Keeping the veteran players on course and helping the younger players mature and assimilate are critical.
“I try to be welcoming to the younger players showing them the plays,” Ragan said. “We’re not freshmen, JV and varsity. We’re one team and everyone is a family. In a family, you have to help each other out and that’s everybody whether it be on the field or off.”
“I’m not really the vocal, ‘rah-rah’ guy. That’s not me, but we have captains who are and they fire me up but I’m more quiet and try to lead by example. That’s just who I am. We have a great blend among captains that way.”
When it came time to address life post-St. John’s, Ragan was targeted by schools in Division 1, but the choice became clear at a campus visit to Boston College in February. That’s when he committed to Chestnut Hill and the Eagle tradition that is pervasive through his family history, but he is clear that the choice was his and his alone.
“They (his parents) always told me to go to school wherever it makes me happy,” he noted. “But they were definitely thrilled when I made the decision to go to Boston College. We’re just a BC family so it’s really cool.”
“The coaches at BC have all made me feel welcome right from the beginning. They’re going to push you on the field but they’ll appreciate you after. They want to challenge you because that’s how you get better.”
To add to his achievements, Ragan was recently selected as one of 100 high school players across the country to participate in the 2016 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl in Carson, Calif., Jan. 3. The game will be nationally televised. Players are selected for their athletic prowess, academic success, and embodiment of the Marine Corps values of honor, courage and commitment. Ragan was presented with his game jersey at St. John’s Sept. 25 by members of the Marine Corps with family, coaches and friends on hand.
“I never expected that to happen,” he admitted. “I went to a free day of workouts at St. John’s Prep and it turned out I got selected for an All-America team and I was pretty blown away. Now I’m going to get to go to California and play against some of the best competition I have ever seen. It’s amazing.”
It has not sunk in that this will be his final season as a Pioneer, but what has been clear and will always be, is that the St. John’s experience has been invaluable to him both on and off the field.
“St. John’s may be the best decision I ever made,” said Ragan, a National Honor Society member and active participant in the school’s Campus Ministry program. “It’s not only football. I’ve really gained a lot in academics. I’ve come to realize that there are things way more important in football and that’s being a good person. Helping people out is a really good feeling.”