For the 19 high school seniors signed by Stanford Football in the Class of 2007, their prep playing days are long over. Up next on the gridiron will be the beginning of their respective college football careers on The Farm.
An exception is Pottsville (Pa.) Area High School senior Brad Hallick, who on Monday had a double-day of football practice. He is in preparation for the Big 33 Football Classic, which on June 16 in Hershey (Pa.) will pit the top 33 players in Pennsyvlania against their top 33 counterparts in Ohio. This annual all-star game is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and will be broadcast live on the NFL Network. The Big 33 Game has a proud history of placing at least one player in every Super Bowl. The recent battle between the Bears and Colts had seven alumni on the field from the Big 33 Game. Some notable alumni include Joe Montana, Joe Namath, Dan Marino, Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Dorsett, Archie Griffin, Orlando Pace, Rocket Ismail, Charles Woodsen, Marvin Harrison, Ty Law and Stanford alums Ed McCaffrey and Jon Ritchie.
The last 14 years have been a battle between Pennsylvania and Ohio, with each state's all-stars taking seven games each. Earlier incarnations of the game matched the Keystone State against Maryland, Texas or a national crew.
"It's huge around here," says Hallick. "It's basically every Pennsylvania high school player's dream to play in it."
Hallick is a starter on the Pennsylvania offensive line, though precisely where remains to be seen. He has worked at both guard and tackle, with most of his practice time thus far outside. The 6'6" 286-pound lineman is preparing to play on either side but is getting the most repetitions at right tackle. He is also taken some snaps on the defense line.
"I'll be playing offense almost the whole game, but if I have to, I'll go in on 'D'. Because of the roster being limited to 33 players, they need to train players at multiple positions," Hallick explains. "I'm playing tackle and guard - more tackle. With the limited roster, we need to play all over."
One of the challenges in preparing for an all-star game that draws players from throughout the state is assembling for a combined practice. The Eastern Pennsylvania players had a mini-practice in April, but Monday at Penn State marked the first time that the entire roster gathered together. They practiced hard in the morning and afternoon, and they won't convene again until June for two-a-days in Hershey the week of the game.
That leaves a lot of time for Hallick to train and practice on his own, which has been productive. The Stanford-bound lineman has been aided by the workout program given to him by strength & conditioning coach Shannon Turley.
"I've been doing Coach Turley's workout, plus I work with a trainer on speed, agility, explosion, etc. three times a week for about two hours," Hallick offers. "I felt in great shape at Monday's practice."
The Monday workout was a busy one for the Pennsylvania players.
"Morning was more offensive based," Hallick begins. "We spent a lot of time on technique drills for run blocking; then we did pass blocking drills. After that we did one-on-ones with the D-line and D-ends. No pads, so it wasn't as fun. Next we went over our plays. We are running a hurry-up offense, so the QB calls the plays when we are down in our stance. Because of that, it took a lot of time to go over all of the plays and their alternate names. Then we did a timing period where we came together with the whole offense and went up against the defense."
The 33 players broke for lunch and then were back on the practice field for their second session.
"Afternoon was defensive based," Hallick comments. "I'll be playing D-tackle, so we did a lot of drills to begin. The defense is limited to a 5-2 with man-to man coverage and no stunting, so we went over our basic plays. We then did a pursuit drill where we would have to run to the ballcarrier. Then the last 20 minutes was offense again."
The one mini-session in April plus this single day of practice this month affords limited minutes for Hallick to hone his game, but the competition and teaching are paying marked dividends in his development.
"My technique has improved a lot since the first practice in April," Hallick offers. "This is giving me the chance to work on my techniques at a live pace. My high school team was primarily run - like 90 percent to 10 percent pass - so this is allowing me to develop my pass blocking skills right now with these guys. Also, just working out and competing with the best players in Pennsylvania will better prepare me for what I'll be up against starting this summer."
Brad Hallick could play either guard or tackle at Stanford and has a chance of competing for playing time early. He flew out with his parents at the end of April to attend the Cardinal's final spring practices and Spring Game. Offensive line coach eyeballed Hallick at his current weight and feels good about the incoming freshman staying there for now, rather than trying to pile on pounds before reporting in August. Hallick does have a frame that will undoubtedly carry more weight while he is in college.
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our website, as well as our full-length feature articles in our glossy magazine. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up) and The Bootleg Magazine (sign-up)!