One of the high profile names the Cardinal has been recruiting in this 2005
class is 6'4" 235-pound tight end Joey Hiben, currently ranked #9 in the nation
at his position by TheInsiders.com. The four-star athlete received
an early rash of scholarship offers last winter and spring, and then his
recruitment went a little quiet. But with one big new offer hitting during
the summer and now his senior year upon him, Hiben is feeling the pressure of
some fast-approaching decisions to make.
The most interesting wrinkle going into the summer with Hiben's recruitment
was the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. He visited South Bend in the spring
and came away most impressed, despite the fact that the staff did not extend him
an offer. Rather than eschew the Irish, the Waconia High School senior
stayed in touch and kept them on his list. Rather than take umbrage, he took
the initiative to prove himself to the Notre Dame staff and attended one of
their summer camp sessions. Indeed, Hiben came out to camp at Stanford
despite already having an offer in his pocket, simply because he wanted to
demonstrate to the Cardinal coaches his intense interest. You have to root
for a kid who wants to do things the right way and handles his relationships
with courting coaches with class and little ego. Hiben was justly rewarded
for his character as well as his athletic abilities when Notre Dame came through
"That offer really helped," the Minnesota man maintains. "I kind of
always knew they would offer. Now I can consider them as one of my top
With that hurdle cleared, Hiben has himself in a position to close on his
college commitment. He has evaluated and visited his options and has
recently narrowed his focus.
"I'm pretty much down to five total schools," Hiben declares. "But
three are at the top: Stanford, Notre Dame and Purdue. Illinois and
Minnesota are the other two. I've been talking with my family the last
several weeks, particularly about those top three. I would within a few
weeks to have a good idea where I'm going. That depends on how hectic
September gets. It was tough in May with at least seven phone calls per
Previously the Waconia wonder described a desire to conclude
his recruitment before his senior season started. However, there is a
little more to that aim than meets the eye. In Hiben's estimation, his
high school schedule will not hit the more formidable opponents until maybe
mid-October. As a competitor he will not quite write off the early foes as
"cupcakes," but his concern of recruiting distractions is low for the first five
or so games of the season.
"I'm not totally confident in making a decision right now," the recruit
explains of his current dilemma. "If I could do this without making
official visits, that would be great. But maybe I will need those visits.
I'm looking at everything right now. Athletics: they're all great schools.
Academics: I'm even starting to look at majors - I want to study architecture.
I'm also looking at the coaching staffs."
"Distance is obviously a negative for Stanford," Hiben unsurprisingly says of
the competition with his two Midwestern favorites. "But California more
than makes up for that."
The bigger issue for the Cardinal recruitment of the Minnesota athlete is the
timing of his decision with respect to the admissions application process.
Hiben has the application in hand and has already pegged his letters of
recommendation. He says he is working on his written parts of the
application, as well. But time is working against him.
"If I committed to Stanford soon, it wouldn't be a sure thing. That's a
problem. I'm going to retake the SAT and ACT in October," he tells us.
"I really like what I see at Stanford, but I know it will be really tough with
admissions. I'll still work on the application, though. Better to be
In a nutshell, the Cardinal need Hiben to keep his recruitment open deep
enough through the fall for his test scores to come back and complete his
application. If his desire to make a commitment by mid-October is firm,
then you can expect to see the 6'4" athlete suit up somewhere in the state of
Indiana next fall.
"I feel like if I commit to any of the three schools, it would be a great
decision," he confidently claims.
Meanwhile, Hiben is off to a fast start for his senior season. Though
schools from coast to coast are recruiting him as a tight end, he has made his
way into the Waconia backfield this fall.
"I've been on the head coach about playing at running back," he laughs.
"I do have the fastest 40 on the team (4.53), though, so it makes some sense.
I'll be a halfback in power situations and a tailback in the rest. I may
play some tight end, too."
Hiben racked up an eye-popping 28 yards per reception as a tight end in his
junior season, but he'll be carrying the ball this fall to get him better
involved in the offense. In the 2004 season opener, he totaled an
impressive 125 yards on nine carries. Hiben scored touchdowns on runs of
74 and 22 yards, displaying his speed, power and open-field athleticism.
He also caught one pass that impressed as much as any of his runs, reaching back
for a ball badly thrown behind him and then smashing through tacklers for 20
yards and a first down.
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