- Jeff Gilbert Contributing Writer
Shawnee’s Jack McCrory and Springfield’s Cameron Hoelscher took advantage of the new early-signing period for college football Wednesday. Both will play linebacker in college, McCrory at Ohio University and Hoelscher at Army.
McCrory, first-team all-state in Division IV and the defensive player of the year in the Central Buckeye Conference, committed to the Bobcats in June shortly after an offer came following camps at OU and Ohio State. He was more than ready to sign the letter of intent.
NATIONAL SIGNING DAY
“I like getting it out of the way and I like being a Bobcat at this point,” McCrory said Wednesday morning. “I like the facilities, the great success, they’re always in a bowl game and the team overall. It’s a great place, a great town and atmosphere.”
Hoelscher had a top five list this past summer of Army, Air Force, Bowling Green, Kentucky and Western Michigan. After a visit to Army in late June, he made his decision in August. The congressional nomination process is the same for football players as other cadets.
“I just knew it was the right place for me,” said Hoelscher, who wants to be an FBI agent after he finishes his Army commitment. In pursuit of that dream job, he will study pre-law or psychology. “It’s not just for the four years you’re there. It’s for the 40 years of your life that they give you.”
The words Beat Navy are all over West Point. Hoelscher watched on TV this year as Army (9-3) beat Navy 14-13.
“It was just goosebumps watching the cadets at the beginning of the game,” Hoelscher said. “Just the whole feel of the environment it’s just crazy that you’re going to be there.”
His family already is in the spirit. When the microphone was handed to Hoelscher’s mother, Patty, at the signing ceremony, all she said was “Beat Navy.”
McCrory and Hoelscher are the same size at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds and are former teammates. Hoelscher played as a freshman and sophomore at Shawnee before transferring to Springfield. McCrory, who played defensive end and was an all-league offensive tackle as a sophomore, took over Hoelscher’s spot on defense as a junior and also moved to running back.
After McCrory’s sophomore season, he grew taller and faster and suddenly looked more like a linebacker and runner than a lineman. His 4.9 40-yard dash time as a sophomore is now 4.58 seconds. He was the Braves’ leading tackler the past two seasons and rushed for 1,440 yards.
“The transformation’s been great,” McCrory said. “After my sophomore season, I started to realize that with my body and my speed I could do something at the next level.”
McCrory, whose brother Alex finished a successful four-year career last year at Dartmouth, knew he wanted to continue the family legacy of playing college that his dad Tony began at Southwest Minnesota State. In addition to team workout commitments, McCrory has spent the past year training at Enhance U Sports Performance Academy in Vandalia with Tramain Hall. He’s gotten stronger and faster.
“I think what got me the offer in the end was the speed, and I think even at this point it’s still going down,” McCrory said of his 40 time.
Shawnee coach Rick Meeks said McCrory is ready to handle the level of commitment it takes to succeed in college football.
“Before it’s said and done there he’ll end up being a captain,” Meeks said. “He’s one of the best football players we’ve had come through here. When it comes to aptitude, effort, work ethic, ability, they’re getting the real deal.”
McCrory played in the middle in high school, but with his speed and size he will likely play outside linebacker in college and be asked to cover receivers as well as stop the run.
Hoelscher, whose best 40 time is 4.61, was Springfield’s leading tackler this season with 111 and had three sacks. He was also the Wildcats’ leading tackler as a junior. He made the Greater Western Ohio Conference first team and was second team all-Southwest District in Division I.
“The experience that I had with Coach Doug (Maurice Douglass) and the players that I got to play with and the education, I’ve had an amazing time here so far,” Hoelscher said.
Hoelscher will report to West Point in June for cadet basic training before school and football practice begins. He’s made two visits and can’t wait to get back.
“I was just blown away by the history because everywhere you are walking on history,” Hoelscher said. “Every statue’s there for a reason.”