Center of the Team

With dreams of becoming a doctor, Sam Stone, A13, battles injuries to assume his starting role on the gridiron

Sam Stone playing center in football game against Bates

The Jumbos passed for more yards than any other team in New England Division III football history at Amherst College on October 30, 2010. It was a record-setting day for Tufts, with 596 yards, 53 completions and 79 attempts—and Sam Stone was on the field for each of those milestones.

The team’s center, Stone snapped the ball for all 111 Jumbo offensive plays. The NCAA Division III record for offensive plays by one team in a game is 112 (Gustavus Adolphus vs. Bethel, 1985). His yeoman effort at Amherst ranks as one of the greatest under-rated performances by an offensive lineman.

Now a senior, Stone remains a stalwart of the team, despite a back injury from playing high school sports that has plagued him throughout his collegiate career. “Sam is everything that we want our guys to be,” says head coach Jay Civetti. “He has a passion for football and for his academics, and he’s a great a teammate. Offensive linemen don’t get a lot of recognition, but we appreciate everything Sam’s done here.”

Stone is the most recent in a long line of Jumbos. His parents—Marguerite Ricciardone, M82, and David Stone, A78, M82—met at Tufts School of Medicine, and his father is an assistant professor at the medical school. His grandfather Morris, A44, D47, is a double Jumbo.

Because of his back problems, Stone was undecided about playing football as a freshman in 2009. He had chosen Tufts after realizing that he could get more out of being here than at any other school, especially with science programs he considers second to none. Civetti, the offensive coordinator back then, called him over the summer and convinced him to come out for the team.

Stone joined forces with Ralph Faia, A13, from nearby football powerhouse Everett, as the team’s centers. Stone started six games as a sophomore in 2010, including the epic game at Amherst. However, he reinjured his back lifting weights the following spring, and his doctors advised him to walk away from the game. He respectfully declined.

Now, in his final year on the Jumbo gridiron, Stone is the starting center once again, mentoring his younger teammates. “We’ve cultivated an environment here where the seniors look out for the freshmen,” Stone said. “The seniors really took us under their wing from the first day, and it’s passed along. Guys pay it forward to the next class.”

A Skill Player

His dedication on the field carries over to the classroom: he’s earned Academic All-New England Small College Athletic Conference honors. During the summers, he has conducted infectious disease research with Cheleste M. Thorpe, M93, an attending physician at Tufts Medical Center and an associate professor at the School of Medicine. She’s one of his biggest fans.

“Sam has been a great presence in our lab,” Thorpe says. “He is a consummate team player. He now designs all his own experiments. He has what we call good hands. This means he can execute the experiments very well. Although he’s an offensive lineman for the football team, for us he’s a skill player.”

In fact, says Thorpe, one researcher coined a term for when an experiment goes very well and produces exceptional results: “We say, ‘Yeah, that experiment was very Sam.’ ”

After graduating with a degree in biology next spring, Stone intends to take next year off to prepare for the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) and then, inspired by his parents, medical school. He’s still uncertain what branch of medicine he will choose, but is eager to start along that path. Right now, though, a good deal of his focus is on helping the football program rebound from its 0–8 record in 2011.

“We kind of all know how we’re viewed in the league right now,” Stone says. “We’re not happy about it. We show that in the way we practice and conduct ourselves. We’re hungry to win some games. We want to earn back some Tufts pride for the school and for ourselves and for our program.”

Tufts Sports Information Director Paul Sweeney can be reached at

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