Recruiting is an inexact science. Every high school football recruit is seeking to be universally ranked a four or five-star recruit and garner double digit scholarship offers. The percentage of those players compared to the totality playing high school football is minuscule. and there’s myriad players that inexplicably fly under the radar.
NSR (National Scout Report) listed the top five reasons high school athletes are under-recruited: (1) poor grades, (1) poor attitude or leadership skills, (3) difficult parents / lack of support from home, (4) the players perception of their abilities on the football field aren’t in alignment with the scouts / coaches’ views and (5) coaches simply aren’t aware of them.
Upper St. Clair dual-threat quarterback Ethan Dahlem (5-foot-10 inches, 175 pounds) is arguably the most under-recruited prospect in Western Pennsylvania. None of the NSR’s five reasons for under-recruited players applies to him. He’s an outstanding student (3.9 grade point average), a born leader, phenomenal work ethic, high character, he’s consistently produced on the football field and he has a loving and supportive family.
Dahlem stepped in as a starter last season and averaged 264 yards of offense a game. He completed 142 of 210 passes for 2,218 yards and 17 touchdowns and at one point he had a 199.3 quarterback rating. He’s an equally adept runner rushing for 951 yards on 211 attempts and scoring 15 touchdowns.
With the start of the 2020 high school football season, Dahlem has a chance to replicate last year’s numbers.
“We’ve been practicing for a couple of weeks now. Our team is ready to go. I’m really excited to get the season going,” said Dahlem.
Dahlem was asked about his trepidation heading into the season. For a period, it appeared the season would be canceled due to the pandemic. “As a team and as a player, our head coach Mike Junko instilled in us that we were going to play no matter what,” he said. “We always maintained a positive attitude about playing. So, from that standpoint, when we found out we were going to play, it was nothing new to us. Our team was ready to go.”
Dahlem is a phenomenal athlete with a major asset: position versatility. He’s capable of playing quarterback, running back, wide receiver or cornerback on the next level. He has a high football IQ, well-muscled frame, toughness and speed.
When asked about his strengths at the quarterback position, he stated, “I would have to say my running ability and instinctiveness. I’m much stronger heading into the season. I’ve gained 20 pounds. I should be able to throw a lot more balls than I could from the previous season.”
“I really placed a focus on nutrition and weightlifting. During the quarantine I put a lot of time into core training and body weight exercises. Eventually we found a gym we could go to and that’s when we started lifting weights and I started packing muscle on from there.”
Something Outta Nothing 🎥🍿 pic.twitter.com/iCN4lkztMm
— Ethan Dahlem (@edahlem22) May 22, 2020
Upper St. Clair’s aerial attack will exceptionally difficult to contain this season. Dahlem and standout receiver David Pantelis, a Yale commit, are a lethal duo. The pair combined for 77 receptions for over 1,100 receiving yards.
“I believe (Pantelis) is the best receiver in the state and so does everyone else on our team,” he said. “He opens everything else up for myself and other players on offense.”
Dahlem is cognizant that he’s slightly undersized to elicit P5 interest at quarterback but he hopes the emergence of players like the Arizona Cardinals Kyle Murray (5-foot-10 inches tall) will dispel the notion that height is the quintessential attribute to success.
Upper St. Clair started their season with a resounding 34-7 victory over Bethel Park. It was the Panthers first over Bethel Park since 2013. Dahlem completed 16 of 25 throws for 160 yards and added 46 yards on eight carries.
“There are a lot of D2 and D3 schools that I’ve been talking with,” Dahlem said. “I’ve been playing quarterback my entire life but to play at a higher level in college, I may have to play slot receiver for defensive back. I still believe I can play quarterback at the D2 and D3 level and be successful.”
Ethan Dahlem is the personification of the word ‘gamer’. He has heart. He has moxie. He has belief in his abilities. He’s a winner.
Its only a matter of time until college coaches wake up and take note. Regardless of position, there’s little doubt Dahlem will make the team that he plays for a better one.
Harry Psaros can be found on Twitter at @PittGuru