Monday, June 4, 2018

A Closer Look at the Class of 2022

Last April we got to now know a little more about who is coming to Hobart as part of the Class of 2022. While we've seen their faces, hometowns, high schools and highlights - on Twitter and this website - let's take a closer look at some of the other "data points" we know about these future Statesmen.

The Class of 2022 has 42 student athletes from CT, FL, KY, MA, MD, NJ, NY, PA and VT. When you break it down further, you find an interesting, diverse and accomplished group. While it's no surprise NY tallied the most players (with 16 of 42 or 38% of commits), there were some other interesting notes I took away from this class that I'd like to share:

NY - 16
Pretty much in line with the 40% in state overall student population, based on last year's Admissions profile data. Definitely has some strong players - from Rochester all the way down to Long Island - across the board.

MA - 9
Also not a surprise, as far as it being the state with the second most student athletes, with the one caveat. One of the players here went to prep school in CT, but hails from the Boston area, a common home for many HWS students.

NJ - 5
Hobart's seen more and more players from NJ in recent years, thanks to a greater recruiting focus on this state. This group is a nearly even split of offensive and defensive players, with 1 RB, 2 WR, 1 LB and 1 DB.

FL - 4
Some may think this is due to the "Brandon Shed effect" but the Statesmen have been recruiting in FL for many years (Shed's success certainly has helped, of course). Like Brandon, three of these student athletes are from South FL (near West Palm and Miami). One is from Tampa (get that kid a Tampa Bay Marpet jersey, stat!). Also, two of them were HS and now, college, teammates (which is kind of a "thing" with this class - more on that later).

CT - 2
See MA above. For the other two CT natives, I for one was happy to see a recruit from the area I grew up in and the other was coached by one of Hobart's best ever.

PA - 2
Ties with CT either way (2 or 3 bc of the MA / prep school mention) as one of the NJ players is actually from PA, but attended HS just over the border in NJ.

KY, MD and VT - 1
While MD and VT are pretty common draws for Hobart, I can't recall the last time the Statesmen had a recruit come up from the Bluegrass State.

Other interesting things about the Class of 2022:
  • Several of these players are the sons of HS coaches
  • There are four pairs of teammates coming into camp together, including one set of twins! 
  • Another common theme was there's a large number of multi-sport (e.g., basketball, lacrosse, track and wrestling) athletes in this class
  • The usual accolades such as team captains, All-County, State, etc.
  • A guitarist / pianist is the the mix too!
A positional breakdown of these players (with some commentary) goes as follows:

DB - 5
This group is a combination of CB and FS. A couple of these players have converted from other positions (e.g., from RB or OLB in HS), but one noticeable change is many of these players are bigger than past Hobart DBs, which is a good trend.

DL - 8
This group is a combination of DTs and DEs, like the above, and there's a pretty even breakdown of each. The Statesmen have needs at both positions, and while they have some experienced players returning, it wouldn't surprise me if some of the new recruits have a shot to contribute as part of the DL rotation that the Statesmen have run for many years.

LB - 8
This group is also fairly even, but I'd say it leans slightly towards ILBs vs OLB (the latter having more depth / experience after last season). There were a couple of players in this group that I could see vying for starting roles, and it'll be one of the top competitions to follow in preseason camp.

PK - 1
Will compete with SO PK Kyle Hackett but could also end up as the punter / replacement for Rio Schmidt '18 who was huge boon to Hobart's special teams unit the last couple of seasons.

OL - 10
Hobart has a lot of depth here, and the main needs are at center and guard for this season after the graduations of Stephen VanHoesen and Alex Helm '18. Center is a position a couple of the incoming FY did play at a high level in HS, so this will be an important area to watch how it develops in preseason camp.

QB - 1
Hobart is not returning a lot of (varsity) experience at this key position given the graduation of Shane Sweeney '18. There should be a good amount of competition between the players on the current roster in the preseason.

RB - 3
Some interesting players in this group. FB could be an area of opportunity longer term, as this position was utilized more often by Coach DeWall back when he was OC for the Statesmen under Mike Cragg.

WR - 6
Lots of good athletes here who could make an impact in a number of special teams or other reserve roles, pending a number of factors.

Overall, the class leans a little bit more to the defensive side (22-20, including the PK as a punter / defensive side) of the ball and I think this is as balanced a class as I think the Statesmen could have hoped to sign.

We're less than 90 days away from the 2018 season kicking off!

Thanks again for reading and go 'Bart!

Friday, June 1, 2018

A Little Football Friday Conversation with Noontime Sports

This week two college football preview magazines posted preseason Top 20 D3FB polls, and both seemed to miss the mark pretty badly.

I spoke with Matt Noonan of "Noontime Sports" about it on today's Football Friday podcast.

Give it a listen over the weekend and I'll have some analysis on the recruiting Class of 2022 come Monday.

Thanks for reading (and listening) and go 'Bart!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Shed's Search for an NFL Home Continues

Brandon Shed '18 performed very well, often making the Minnesota Vikings top defensive draft picks look pretty bad actually, but wasn't offered a contract due after this past weekend's rookie mini-camp. It seems as though a front office / roster decision has his NFL dream on hold for now, but other teams (such as the Bears) remain interested. The Vikings coaches were certainly impressed and you never know if and when he could get called back up to MN, depending how the preseason unfolds.

You can read about his journey in this article in the Palm Beach Post here. Brandon posted a handful of highlights from mini-camp on his instagram and twitter feeds.

The main positive from "Minnecamp" was that Brandon continued to show he can play at the NFL level and it's not an if, but a when he'll be able to find an opportunity with a team that needs him. I wouldn't be surprised if he landed on an initial 90-day preseason roster.

Please join me in wishing Brandon continued success in his try-outs as he continues to pursue his NFL dream.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Last, but Definitely Not Least (and other news)

And just like that, it's May 1st! We're exactly four months (date-wise anyway) away from the Statesmen's September 1st season opener at Brockport! While there was a LOT of news to cover in April, it's likely the blog will be quieter until August rolls around. Hopefully we'll hear some good news out of Minnesota, and report on that, as soon as we know more.

In the meantime, the final members of the recruiting Class of 2022 were announced by HC Kevin DeWall '00 on Twitter last week. They included these student athletes:

Zach played DT/OT for BHS using his stocky frame (6' 1" 280 lbs) to help pave the way for his RBs. While he's likely to move inside to guard for college, Cohen adds depth and strength to the OL from nearby Rochester.

Bennett was an All-Erickson League Defensive MVP for Salisbury, which plays in the competitive NEPSAC league. While he played MLB in HS, at 5' 11" 210 lbs, with quick reads and speed, could be a strong OLB candidate given his blitzing and coverage abilities. ILB is a position of need for Hobart going into 2018, and it may fall on FY like Bennett to be called in sooner than later to help out.

Sweeney Wins Hobart's SR Athlete of the Year Award

Shane Sweeney '18 had an impressive three year run at Hobart College, setting multiple passing and offensive records during that time. He appeared in 27 games, passing for 7,385 yards and 71 TDs while adding three rushing TDs over that time as well. His career statistics can be seen here.

During the annual "Block H" athletics awards dinner, Shane was recognized by the Statesmen Athletic Association with the Francis L. "Babe" Kraus '24 Memorial Award as Hobart's most outstanding SR athlete in the Class of 2018.

Congratulations to Shane and to other HFB award winners, including Brandon Shed and Rio Schmidt '18, among others.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Monday, April 30, 2018

Shed Invited to Vikings Rookie Camp

No Division III football players heard their names called for the third consecutive year, but it didn't take teams long to sign certain D3FB players immediately thereafter.

A running list can be seen here.

One of those NFL hopefuls is Hobart's own Brandon Shed '18, who was invited by the Minnesota Vikings' preseason rookie camp in early May.

While there's no guarantees Brandon will end up with a contract by the end of camp, it gives him an excellent opportunity to show his skills to a team that just missed going to the Super Bowl last season.NFL teams can carry 90 players on their initial rosters, so Brandon will be looking to earn one of those spots, starting later this week.

We wish Brandon nothing but the best up in Minneapolis and look forward to following him as his NFL journey continues.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Another Social Media Monday Update on the Class of 2022

Hobart College Football HC Kevin DeWall '00 continued his social media blitz last week announcing these 20 FY student athletes who are joining the Statesmen program and family (or as he and the other coaches have taken to saying, #Team125).

It's shaping up to be a big and talented class, so let's take a look and start getting to know these new Hobart players:

I reported on Austin's commitment a couple of weeks ago, but it appears I was a bit off in my assessment. Coy will joining the team as a DB instead of a RB or OLB as I originally thought. I am happy to be wrong though, as the secondary needs help and depth. Austin brings Tommy D'Antonio '18 type of size too which is definitely welcome.

Bernard comes to Hobart via a PG year at Worcester based FB powerhouse program, St. John's (I played against those guys in summer camps at Holy Cross a million years ago). He played HS ball in Shrewsbury, playing RB and SS. Look for Mike to join the OLB corps this season.

"Cross" is making the short drive to Geneva after winning a Class C State Championship his SR season with the Lakers. Bianchi had two receptions, a tackle and kicked four PATs, which proved to be the difference in SHS's 28-25 championship win.

I updated you on Gavin back in February, and he looks like a nice get for Hobart's WR corps.

Camposano is the third A-B player to enroll at Hobart in the past two seasons. SO FS Cal Sullivan remains on the squad. Kyle is an explosive runner - he averaged nearly eight YPC in his SR season to go with nine TDs.

Coleman was a team captain for HHS, playing WR, RB and occasionally QB en route to over 1250 yards of total offense and nine TDs. He will switch to the defensive side of the ball in college, looking to bolster Hobart's secondary with his size (6'1" 205 lbs) and speed.

While SO PK Kyle Hackett had an incredible FY year - being the only PK at any level of CFB to have a perfect FG percentage (he was 10-10 in 2017) - DiGregorio is a great pickup to challenge him and/or take over KO and/or punting duties now that Rio Schmidt '18 has graduated.

Frucci was another commit I recently reported on. He is a tall and quick OL that will compete at guard, or potentially tackle, depending on what he weighs in at when he arrives for preseason camp.

Gibson was a team captain for HHS and also starred as the center of the hockey team. He played both LB and DL for the Fords, rushing the passer, penetrating gaps on the LOS and even dropping back into coverage when needed. At 6' 215 lbs Gibson may need to add some weight to be an every down DL player in college, but he has good football smarts and athleticism to get him there.

Grieco is yet another recruit from "Strong Island" making his way up to Geneva. He'll fit well in the NG position in Hobart's 4-4 defense as his size (6'2" 260 lbs) and "nose for the ball", will help him succeed as an interior DL in college.

Hopkinson may be smaller in stature, but his highlight reel was really impressive. He has great vision and break away speed once he hits the open field. He has great moves as a runner and is a solid receiver to boot.

One of two Blue Devils coming in from HHS, I did a preview on Jamison about a month ago. He could be in the mix at for the open center starting role given the graduation of Alex Helm '18. 

A HHS teammate of Jamison's, I previewed Alex last month in what was one of my favorite stories of the off-season.

Aside from having a great name, Matthews is an impressive athlete who is a solid slot / inside receiver who runs good routes and has break away speed once he has the ball. Given Hobart's depth at WR his abilities as a special teams player / KOR man could get him valuable playing time as a FY.

Another coach's son, McCoy will convert from being a QB/LB for BBA into a DB at Hobart. This may be a tough transition, but this two sport star should have the athleticism to pull it off. Like his teammate Coy Austin, McCoy will bring more size (6'2" 195 lbs) to the Statesmen secondary.

Noel is from NJ, but played football and basketball just across the PA border for PS. He was a WR, but will convert to DB in college. Standing 6', he'll add more height to the Statesmen secondary, as well as the important "ball hawk" skills cover corners always need.

Onaiwu will look to bolster the Hobart DL. While a bit undersized at 5"11" 260 lbs, his lower center of gravity, strength and technique as a NG can be an asset to the Statesmen's 4-4 scheme.

Another Floridian, Anthony will head to Hobart from Tampa (I wonder if he's a Bucs fan?) to bolster the Statesmen OL, most likely at guard (or center). He is athletic for his size and pulls well on roll outs and run plays. More the stocky side (5'11" 250 lbs), he leverages his center of gravity to get under DL's pads and drive them where they need to go (out of the way).

Smyth played football in my hometown of Avon, CT which is just over the "mountain" from his hometown of West Hartford. While I couldn't find information to confirm, I'm guessing he attended AOF for a PG year. Pierce will look to compete for a spot at guard. At 6' 280 lbs and having played with a number of Division I caliber players at AOF (he blocked for a QB that signed with Clemson), Smyth could be in the mix early on.

Spano earned All-County honors as a LB / DE hybrid player for BBPHS his SR season. He lined up outside as an end but also played on the interior DL sometimes also, showing good technique in shedding blockers and getting to the ball carrier. At 6'2" 230 lbs Kyle will bring size and strength to the DE/DL unit.

There's a few more players left to feature, and I'll have those up later this week.

Thanks for reading and go 'Bart!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Sun Sentinel Shines on Shed

Former Hobart WR Brandon Shed '18 was included in a South Florida HS alumni  / NFL Draft preview today by the Sun Sentinel.

A link to the article can be seen here.

Shed alludes would be tacklers during last season's 
home opener vs. Brockport (photo credit: Kevin Colton)

The article acknowledges the fact that Brandon may have been "an under the radar high school prospect" but that he "blew up in college, recording 167 receptions for 2,958 and 32 touchdowns."

Given interest from teams such as the Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals, Miami Dolphins, NY Giants, Baltimore Ravens and Minnesota Vikings; Shed is being projected as high as a fifth round draft pick by several publications.

The NFL Draft starts next Thursday, April 26 and will run through the weekend. We all hope to hear Brandon get the call!

Thanks for reading, go Brandon and go 'Bart!