New Hampshire Football Report

Men in the middle

Allen Lessels
UNH Insider

DURHAM — Linebackers DeVaughn Chollette and Ryan Farrell, both seniors, started every game of the University of New Hampshire football season last fall as they wrapped up their fine playing careers.

The good news for the 2017 football team is that the two players who backed them up – Jared Kuehl and Quinlen Dean – not only got a lot of playing time as reserves, but were very productive in their roles.

Now Kuehl, a junior, and Dean, a sophomore, will be counted on to lead the linebacking crew for the Wildcats.

UNH will have five practices remaining of the 15 allowed by the NCAA after an early Tuesday morning session.

Spring practice concludes with the annual Blue-White Spring Game on April 29 at noon in Wildcat Stadium. The day will include an Open House in the stadium and tours of the facility.

Kuehl was part of a regular rotation at linebacker and was fourth on the team with 60 tackles last season. He returned an interception for a touchdown and forced a couple of fumbles. Dean was involved in 38 tackles, forced and recovered a couple of fumbles and had a breakout game against Stony Brook.

“Right now, Jared Kuehl and Quinlen Dean are doing really good things,” UNH coach Sean McDonnell said. “They’re both athletic as all get-go. They get to the ball. Both of them are good-sized linebackers. Jared’s 236 right now. Quinlen’s 228. Both can run. Both have picked up and taken to the coaching very, very well.”

Garrett Gillick coaches the UNH linebackers and said he’s been impressed by his two leaders as well the linebackers overall.

“I think they’re a talented group,” Gillick said. “They’re probably as athletic as any kids I’ve had, including the two freshmen, Stephen Harper and DeUnte Chatman.”

Harper and Chatman redshirted last season and are part of the linebacking group with sophomore Cameron Brusko and redshirt freshmen Jackson Housman and Carson Leary.

Kuehl got off to a fast start last season and tying for the team lead with 10 tackles in the season opener at San Diego State. Two games later, he picked off a pass against Dartmouth and returned it 61 yards for a touchdown.

“Jared’s a guy that’s very slippery inside,” Gillick said. “He makes people miss. He’s got great feet. He uses his hands really, really well. That allowed him last year to get involved in some packages that maybe got him on the field a little earlier. . . . Jared’s a kid who has progressed each year in the program, whether it’s in the weight room, during matt drills or just even physically putting on weight. He came back this spring at 240 pounds. One of the things that was impressive was he didn’t really lose any of his mobility and his athleticism. He just has a knack to rush the passer.”

Kuehl does well in school and that spills over onto the field, Gillick said.

“He’s been able to pick up the defense relatively quickly for a kid who really hasn’t played a whole lot of snaps,” the coach said. “I think the thing with him is the intelligence he brings on the field and his ability to find the football, whether it’s blitzing or running through gaps or in pass coverage, he does a real good job.”

Dean had three interceptions last season. Two of them came in a 43-14 win over No. 22 Stony Brook in Wildcat Stadium on Oct. 29 that helped propel the Wildcats into their 13th straight appearance in the FCS playoffs.

“With Quinlen it was funny because you watched his high school highlight tape and he really was a kid who just rushed off the edge,” Gillick said. “He had something like 30 sacks in high school just standing on the edge and running people down. For us, it was hard to evaluate him and see whether he could play linebacker. He went to an all star game and they stood him up and he moved around and you could see he had the ability to do some of those things.”

Dean proved it shortly after he got on campus.

“He got here and he was very athletic,” Gillick said. “I think the first play he ever had in one of our thuds he picked off a pass and scored a touchdown. I think with him, he’s long and he just had to learn the defense. He and Jared have done a real good job picking up schemes and understanding what we want from them, which then allows them to get on the field and make plays.”

Brusko, Harper, Chatman and the others will try to follow their lead.

“It’s just really a matter of who are the next two guys,” Gillick said. “It’s up for grabs. Now that we’ve got most of our stuff in it’s a matter of who’s going to pick it up faster and who’s going to put stuff on tape. Jobs are won in the spring so I think those three guys have a challenge ahead of them to see who’s going to come into camp being that third guy that we’re looking for. It always works itself out.”

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