NEW BEDFORD — Edgar Semedo didn’t have to go far to find someone who knew about playing football at Bentley University.
Before the New Bedford senior signed his National Letter of Intent on Friday to play safety for the Falcons, he checked in with his high school coach, Mark DeBrito, who just so happens to be in the Bentley Athletic Hall of Fame.
“Even though I’m an alumni, I wanted him to, obviously, make an educated decision,” said DeBrito, who is still second in school history in catches and receiving yards and third in touchdowns. “As the school started to contact him, I told him ‘Go through the process and do all the things necessary, as far as taking visits and doing research on schools, and you’ll get the feel.'”
That’s precisely what Semedo did, and his search wound up with three finalists: Bentley, Stonehill and Wesleyan.
“I was looking for a school that I’d like and where I would fit in,” he said. “Somewhere with great academics and a good team. When I took my Bentley visit, it was perfect. That just sealed it.”
Playing football in college, let alone at the Division II level, wasn’t on Semedo’s radar until the summer before his senior year. In fact, no one in his family had ever gone to college before.
“This young man followed the process and it changed his life,” DeBrito said. “He did everything asked of him in the classroom, on the field, in the weight room. In turn, this happens.”
Semedo came to football late, not playing until eighth grade when some friends persuaded him to try it out. He moved to New Bedford with his mother, Antonieta Dalonba, midway through his freshman year, transfering from O’Bryant High School, and started taking football seriously the summer after his sophomore year.
“I knew that I’d probably be starting (as a junior) so I had to get ready,” he said. “I started lifting, watching film and the season came. Going into my senior year, that’s when I got really serious watching film and learning everything.”
As a senior safety, Semedo led New Bedford with 93 tackles — despite missing more than two games with an injury — adding an interception and a forced fumble. He also caught 27 balls for 367 yards and three touchdowns. He was named a Standard-Times Super Teamer and a Big 3 Conference All-Star.
“He was our quarterback on the defensive side of the ball,” DeBrito said. “His knowledge of the game and formations and personnel packages, that’s going to assist him. He’s not afraid to come downhill and put down the shoulder on somebody.”
Semedo has also excelled in the classroom, sporting a 3.6 GPA, earning membership in the National Honor Society and volunteering with several charities, including the New Bedford Half Marathon, Football for Life, the Special Olympics and the Gridiron and Friendly Sons of St. Patrick golf tournaments.
“He’s a great student,” DeBrito said. “He hits the books and applies himself in the classroom. That will help him out at Bentley. I think he’s going to be capable and prepared to deal with the rigors of college work.”
At Bentley, Semedo will be playing for coach Bill Kavanaugh Jr., a Dartmouth High grad who got his start coaching under his father at UMass Dartmouth and took over the Bentley job four years ago. He has a 21-22 record in four seasons, including a 6-4 record last season (6-3 in the Northeast-10, which they last won in 2010).
“He was pretty cool,” Semedo said. “He’s a pretty chill coach. He helped me out with everything I needed. He knows a lot of people around here and he was cool with coach DeBrito.”
Semedo is undecided on his major, but knows that as much time as football will take up in his life, he has too keep his educational pursuits in balance.
“First, it has to be academics,” he said. “Throughout my years I have to get a degree in something I’ll enjoy in the future. Football will come second.”
“The change from high school to college he’ll adjust very well because he puts in that time,” DeBrito added. “His intelligence and football IQ will help him early on.”
Follow Brendan Kurie on Twitter @BrendanKurieSCT