With players onboard, Stevenson football nearing reality

After months of spreading the word on new program, coach Ed Hottle is securing recruits and hiring coaches

  • Coach Ed Hottle stands near a large mural of mustangs, the school mascot, in the athletic department's weight room.
Coach Ed Hottle stands near a large mural of mustangs, the school… (Baltimore Sun photo by Jed…)
May 24, 2010|By Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun

One in a series of occasional articles

Ed Hottle bustles into the athletic offices at Stevenson University and apologizes for running an hour behind schedule.

Stevenson's first-ever football coach just left the university president's office, where he received final approval to hire his first full-time assistant. Now, his mind has turned to three recruits, who are somewhere in the building, awaiting their first meeting with the head coach. Earlier in the day, he learned that Stevenson has exceeded 50 commitments from football players, the number projected in the athletic department's budget.

But Hottle won't be satisfied with any fewer than 100 able bodies for his first practice in August. So he'll do his best to secure these three and, later, he'll speak at the Baltimore Touchdown Club to continue spreading the word about his fledgling program to any high school coach who might steer a player his way.

"This," he says, exhaling for a moment, "is a pretty typical day."

For a few months after his hiring in November, Hottle was Stevenson football. He was the only coach, and he spent his days crisscrossing the state to inform high school players and coaches that this former women's college in Owings Mills was getting into the football business. Now his efforts are paying off. There is meat on the bones of the Division III program he envisioned.

"We're well ahead of where we expected," says Hottle's boss, athletic director Brett Adams.

But the coach always has his sights on the next player.

'From nothing to games'

Nate Hudson is a square-shouldered offensive lineman from Pennsylvania, down to check out the school that might be a manageable commute from his dad's house in Manchester.

"Tell me about yourself," Hottle says.

Hudson missed much of his senior season due to injury but proudly notes that he was the first one in the locker room for practice and game days, even though he couldn't suit up. He also helped start his school's lacrosse program from scratch and likes the idea of building a college program from the ground up.

"It's cool to see it go from nothing to games," Hottle says.

"Yeah, it was pretty cool to pick our lacrosse uniforms and know these were the ones they were going to wear for years," Hudson says. "It was nice to have my name on the first lacrosse plaque."

"Well, let's get your name on the first football one here," Hottle says.

He loves kids who want to be football pioneers and don't mind practicing for the whole 2010 season so they'll be a formidable machine by the time real games arrive in 2011 (players will not lose eligibility and will be able to play for four years beyond next season).

The coach wears several guises during his talks with parents and coaches. He's an old school tough guy who'll demand punctuality, keep a stern watch over players' academic performance and have no qualms about benching a starter who's outworked by a less talented player in practice. But he has a libertarian streak.

"I'm gonna let you pick your position," he tells Hudson. "If I let you pick, you'll be happier. Now, if you're the 10th-best left tackle, I might ask if you want to give right tackle a shot, because you want to be on the field, right? But I'm not going to force you."

Hudson allows that he always dreamed of catching passes at tight end but doesn't think he's fast enough.

"Stand up and let me see you," Hottle says. "We can make you a tight end. As long as you can catch and run routes, we can make you faster."

Then there's Hottle the family man. "You're going to know who my kids are, and they're going to know who you are," he tells Hudson. "You're going to get brownies from my wife on road trips."

"That's cool," Hudson says, adding that his little brothers love coming to his games and talking football.

"Bring 'em all," says Hottle, a father of four. "We can turn them all loose together and leave them up to my wife." Later, after hearing Hudson's ambition to own a sports bar, he assigns the player grill duties for future team cookouts.

Hudson and his dad leave impressed and the player assures Hottle he'll make a decision in the next few days. He ends up committing to play football at Stevenson.

'School on a mission'

During a brief respite between recruits, Hottle introduces his first full-time hire, defensive coordinator Ed Sweeney, who was Hottle's coach at Frostburg State University.

"The first guy on my wish list," Hottle says, pulling a binder full of mimeographed sheets off his shelf. "See this. I've been using his old playbook since 2001."

Hottle, who previously coached at Gallaudet University in Washington, talked to Sweeney every night as he concocted his plans for the new program at Stevenson.

"There's so much potential in this place," Sweeney says. "It's exciting to come onto campus and see all the construction equipment going. It's a school on a mission."

Next in are two players from Bowie High School, offensive lineman Steven Marks and wide receiver/punter Bruce Mosley Jr.

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