Former Newman QB Dunsford offered spot on Princeton football team


Cardinal Newman graduate Keaton Dunsford will transfer to Princeton in 2015 after completing a year at Phillips Exeter Academy, a college-prep school in New Hampshire. (Conner Jay / The Press Democrat, 2013)

Cardinal Newman graduate Keaton Dunsford passed for 45 touchdowns and 5,300 yards last season. (Conner Jay / The Press Democrat, 2013)

Recent Cardinal Newman graduate Keaton Dunsford, who passed for 45 touchdowns and nearly 5,300 yards in two seasons as the Cardinals’ starting quarterback, has been offered a roster spot on the Princeton University football team for 2015.

Dunsford will play at Phillips Exeter Academy, a college preparatory school in New Hampshire, this fall, with the intent to transfer to Princeton the following year.

“You look at their staff, their facilities, the overall team dynamics — and you look at the players coming in, from a character standpoint and an athletic standpoint, and it all came together,” Dunsford said of Princeton. “To sum it up, the real key factors were academic prestige, the coaching staff and their football knowledge, and the offensive system. Princeton satisfies all those requirements. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better situation.”

The Ivy League does not offer athletic scholarships, but with the Tigers’ top quarterback currently going into his senior year, Dunsford believes he will get a chance to compete for the starting job as a freshman in 2015.

Dunsford also strongly considered Harvard, but the Crimson run a spread offense. He believes he could be productive in that system as well, but really sought a pro-style offense that can make use of his big frame — he is 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds — and accuracy without requiring exceptional mobility.

Princeton’s pro-style attack, designed by head coach Bob Surace and offensive coordinator James Perry, was virtually unstoppable last year. The Tigers broke Ivy League records for scoring (43.7 points per game) and total offense (511.6 yards per game) en route to the league title.

Dunsford attended Junior Day at Princeton in the spring of 2013, but really fell in love with the program at a camp there a few weeks ago.

“That experience really helped seal the deal,” Dunsford said. “Because you not only get to see the knowledge of the coaching staff, just their pure football knowledge, but also their overall organization, how they run things, and just their personalities, how relatable they are, their style of coaching. It was very attractive.”

Dunsford, who lives in Calistoga, will report to Phillips Exeter on Aug. 28 and will begin practice there the following day.

The Princeton staff will not be involved in his role at the prep school, but will be available to watch his game tapes and offer suggestions related to both football and his coursework.

Dunsford has not yet been accepted to Princeton academically, though he is on track to get there.

And because of the Ivy League’s unique application process, Dunsford will gain access to the Princeton playbook and weightlifting schedule this December. He figures he can hit the ground running when he gets to New Jersey a few months later.

“In the words of Coach Surace, if you consider the offense as you would a college-level class, no one will be at the 400 level in that time,” Dunsford said. “But if I can get to the 200 or 300 level, where you have enough confidence to make big plays, I can help myself.”

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