Before committing to Dartmouth, senior captain Clive Weeden was on Boston College’s radar, although that probably deserves an asterisk.
It didn’t hurt that he stood 6-foot-9 and had solid grades at a nearby New England prep school. Syracuse and Connecticut also made inquiries about Weeden and other coaches would occasionally stop by campus to check him out.
In addition to helping the Northfield Mount Hermon basketball team to 23 wins as a senior, Weeden showed surprising athleticism for someone so tall by leading the Hoggers to a share of the New England Prep School track championship as a senior, placing second in the javelin, second in the triple jump and sixth in the discus.
Given that he could look almost eye-to-eye with a 7-footer and had enough athletic ability to be a solid triple-jumper, it should come as no surprise that big-time schools were interested in Weeden.
The surprise is something else.
Although the only time he played on an organized team in his life was his sophomore year at NMH, Boston College, UConn and the rest were intrigued not so much by his play on the court but by what he might be able to do on the gridiron.
“Football was a passion of mine since I was very young,” explained Weeden, warming quickly to the subject. “I wanted to play in peewees, but I weighed too much. I finally played after I transferred from Nashoba Regional to Northfield.
“I had to get used to the pads and all that, but I loved it. I was just learning about it but I had a pretty good year.”
As a wide receiver (and punter) Weeden racked up 450 receiving yards, six touchdowns in his one year of high school football, drawing this notice from Rivals.com, the recruiting bible:
“Northfield Mount Hermon is home to one of the biggest receiver prospects in the country in the 2007 class in Clive Weeden. At 6-foot-9, 215-pounds, Weeden certainly is getting noticed by schools across the country.”
Said Weeden: “It was pretty funny because some of the guys at school were probably kind of annoyed because there were coaches coming to see me senior year and I hadn’t played for two years. They came when I was doing track and they had me do different drills for them. BC gave me tickets to their first ACC game against Florida State. I was on the field with them and in the locker room.”
So how then, did Weeden end up playing basketball at Dartmouth?
“I tore my MCL in track and so I missed the whole summer and the beginning of the fall so I decided to not play football junior year,” he explained.
“Come senior year I decided to focus on basketball because we have a lot of coaches coming to our fall runs, so I wanted to focus on that. Basketball is my other passion.”
Among the coaches who visited NMH was former Dartmouth assistant Shay Berry, who had been bird-dogging him for a while. Berry didn’t have all that hard a sell once Weeden had seen the campus.
“I got offered by Quinnipiac and got looks from other mid-majors but I actually signed extremely early with Dartmouth,” Weeden said. “I committed early September my senior year, so I missed a lot of the recruiting.
“I had visited numerous times my junior year and even in the summer before my senior year and I just knew that it was a place where I would fit in and that I would love.”
Weeden played in 25 of the 28 games as a freshman, starting two and averaging 11.8 minutes per game. Against Penn at the Palestra the next year he was a perfect 3-for-3 from the field, scoring seven points and blocking two shots to help Dartmouth post its first season sweep of the Quakers in a half century. The next night he grabbed three rebounds off the bench as the Big Green won at Princeton to complete its first sweep of the vaunted “P’s” in two decades.
“That was great,” said Weeden, who calls the historic weekend one of the true highlights of his college career. “After the game at Princeton we were all cheering in the locker room. (Coach Terry Dunn) even started singing.”
As a sophomore, just as he had as a freshman, the ballhawking Weeden accomplished a rarity, grabbing more offensive rebounds than defensive. And it wasn’t as if he was just playing patty-cake on the glass. He made a healthy 46.2 percent of his shots from the field as a freshman and was second among players in the regular rotation in shooting percentage as a sophomore. And that hasn’t changed. Heading into the rematch with Harvard last week he had four more offensive rebounds than defensive.
“That’s one of those things I’ve always though of as a hard-work category,” he said. “On the offensive end I can run in and get a head start. I have a pretty good nose for the ball, but I’ve got to do a better job on the defensive end.”
Weeden posted Dartmouth’s only double-double this season in the November win over Colgate when he scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, but he’s determined not just to do a better job on the defensive boards, but to go to the basket more as the Ivy League season heats up.
“We need more of an inside presence,” he said. “When we play pickup or even three-on-three my offense is a lot better. It’s not the same in games because of my lack of aggressiveness. That’s something I've been working on.”
Although the Big Green won just one more game his first three years than it won in his senior season at Northfield Mount Hermon, Weeden thinks a corner is being turned under first-year coach Paul Cormier and his staff.
“It has been tough,” he admitted. “Losing is never easy. It’s never something you want to do. I noticed at first when I came in the environment of the basketball program was not what I was used to. The work ethic. Everything.
“With the addition of Coach Cormier it’s gone to a whole new level. This being the first year with the new coaches, it is extremely important to get everyone in the program on the right page. That’s what Ronnie Dixon and I been trying to do as seniors since the beginning of the year.”
Weeden, like Dixon, is serving as a Dartmouth captain this year.
“When I came in as a freshman Shay Berry was telling me that I have to try to be a leader on the court, even if it’s just by how hard I work,” he said.
“Becoming captain was a great honor and something I looked forward to, and was striving for.”
Off the court, Weeden is majoring in sociology modified with economics. He did an internship in finance in Denver last year and has begun applying for jobs in business and finance in Boston and New York.
Given his druthers, though, he’d love the chance to keep playing basketball at some level after graduation, perhaps in Australia where his late mother was born. “I have a really small family and pretty much all my family is in Tasmania,” he said. “I would love to play down there. I made some good contacts last summer, so hopefully that will help.”
Whether he ends up in the business world or gets to put it off for a year or two Down Under, Cormier is confident Weeden will give it his all.
“He’s one of those kids who finds a way to have a positive impact in every game he is in, and in every practice,” said coach Paul Cormier. “He is one of my favorite guys I have ever coached because he comes to practice every day with a terrific attitude.
“Every coach in America would want have Clive Weeden on his team.”
Even, it turns out, if they coached football.
A veteran writer and observer of Dartmouth athletics, Bruce Wood launched a web site in 2005, www.biggreenalert.com, specializing in Big Green football news coverage.