SHREWSBURY, Mass. -- Most high school football players dream of taking their games to the next level, but few ever realize that dream.
Even fewer get to do it with their best friend at their side, so St. John's of Shrewsbury stars Sean Ragan, a Boston College signee, and Tim Cassidy, who will play for Division 2 Bentley University next year, know just how lucky they are.
"It really is a long process, but I had support from (Sean)," Cassidy said. "Being able to sign with my best friend, it's a dream come true."
"The fact that I get to sign my NLI with my best friend next to me is unbelievable," Ragan added. "I don't think you could ask for anything more than at."
Ragan, a versatile offensive lineman, whom BC thinks could play all three line positions, still can't believe he's set to play major college football. Even after getting an offer from local FCS program Holy Cross as just a sophomore, then garnering some national attention when the Miami Hurricanes offered a year later, Ragan is still in awe of the whole process.
"I didn't expect this at all, it kind of came as a surprise to me," Ragan said. "But I'm just really fortunate that it's happening to me."
St. John's has seen its fair share of highly-touted athletes over the years. Just a year ago it was safety Davon Jones signing to play football at BC, and multi-sport star Shane Combs signing to play baseball at Notre Dame. During his time in Shrewsbury, Combs played both quarterback and running back, and actually split time with Cassidy under center (mostly in the shotgun) in the Pioneers' no-huddle attack early in the 2014 season.
Cassidy credits his quarterback competition with Combs as a junior, and the mentorship he received as a sophomore from Drew Smiley, a former ESPN Boston All-State quarterback and current lacrosse player at the Naval Academy, for his development into a college signal caller.
"I learned a lot from Shane and just the whole process," Cassidy said. "Drew Smiley was a great mentor of mine, and just having a great coaching staff… They helped me come into my own over the past year, and helped me really develop as a quarterback, and just a leader on the football field."
While signing their National Letters of Intent, both players were flanked by their families and teammates, who filled out the conference room inside the school's Founder's Hall. Head coach John Andreoli also stopped by to congratulate his two long-time players, and reflect on their years-long recruiting process.
"(Today) marks the culmination of a lot of hard work, tremendous sacrifice, a long process, and a lot of late nights trying to figure out what's the best route for you guys to go," Andreoli said to his players. "No doubt you made the best choices. We're very proud of you. You've opened a great opportunity for yourselves, and I think one thing you've learned is making the most of that opportunity."
The next step will be a challenge for both players, but each will see some familiar faces once they arrive on campus. Cassidy will be joined by fellow 2016 Central Mass graduates Ryan McCarthy (Wachusett), and Oliver Sawyer (Uxbridge) at Bentley, while Ragan will join his former teammate Davon Jones, along with fellow Central Mass alums Isaac Yiadom (Doherty) and Chris Lindstrom (Shepherd Hill) in Chestnut Hill.
"Me and Chris (Lindstrom) used to always hate each other because we were rivals," Ragan said with a smile. "But now we get to be friends, so I'm really excited for that."