Thursday, May 1st, 2008
Browns giving Hoyng a chance on defense
By Gary R. Rasberry
It has been over five years since Kevin Hoyng played in the defensive backfield in competitive action.
The former all-state quarterback at Coldwater and University of Dayton All-American will look to return to the position of safety for a chance to play in the National Football League.
Hoyng will get a chance to make an impression in professional football when he takes part in the Cleveland Browns mini-camp starting today and ending Sunday in Berea. The Browns called Hoyng after this past weekend's NFL draft with an invite to work in the camp.
"It's a great opportunity for me. I'm very excited about it," said Hoyng during a telephone interview on Wednesday night as he got ready to head to camp. "As a kid, you always dream about playing in the National Football League. I worked my whole life in football to get an opportunity like this. ... It's up to me to make it now."
Hoyng hasn't seen competitive time on defense since his high school days at Coldwater during the early part of the decade.
At Dayton, Hoyng rewrote much of the record book for offense, earning the 2007 Pioneer Football League Offensive Player of the Year and the team's Player of the Year for a second time.
With Dayton not taking part in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (Division I-AA) Playoffs, getting the pros to take a look at what he could do was an uphill climb.
The decision was made to switch back to defense to better his chances.
"This offseason, I was able to work with (UD's) defensive backs coach James Stanley. He played college ball at Toledo," said Hoyng, who is working in the Northmont School District as a long-term substitute teacher. "He's very good with his fundamentals and techniques. He worked me out in the offseason and got me going into all kinds of drills the NFL teams would do and in college as well. He really was a benefit for me to guide me through the transition back to the defensive side of the ball."
While he did not take part in the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in March, Hoyng did have some help in getting his name and resume to the NFL teams.
Hoyng's agent Ron Todd, known for helping little known players get into the pros - most noticeably former Philadelphia Eagle Hugh Douglas - got Hoyng's name out to teams looking for a safety.
"Really, you have to give Ron the credit there," said Hoyng, who said he went to Indianapolis to meet team officials with Todd. "I didn't really know where to go or to get my name out there. Ron usually works with people like myself. He knows so many people and has so many contacts. He was able to get my name out there, media-wise and coaches as well. He does a great job getting me exposed."
Hoyng also did his part, going up to Bowling Green to take part in the Falcons' Pro Day - with the Browns and holding a workout down in Dayton with scouts from the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Giants in attendance.
Over the weekend for the NFL draft, Hoyng did not have many expectations of getting the call during the later rounds.
"Realistically, we weren't figuring on getting drafted. If it would have been anything, it would have been late seventh round," said Hoyng. "... We were just looking to get into a camp, whether signing as a free agent or getting an invite like I did.
"Going into that week, we had contact with the Houston Texans a little bit. We still felt we had some interest from the Bengals. I hadn't really heard from the Browns. (Todd) didn't hear from them either for a couple of weeks. It was one of those things where you never know. ... After the draft we got a call from the Browns and we took it right away."
Cleveland did not draft a defensive back in the draft, something that Hoyng, hopes is a good sign.
"They told me they really liked my athleticism and what I could bring to the table," said Hoyng. "They saw me as an instinctive player and one that could make plays as kind of a quarterback on defense. We also touched on special teams. I told them that was something I definitely wanted to be a part of. I realized for younger players, it's a great way to make the team."
Hoyng is focused on this weekend and not thinking about other opportunities in football.
"Right now I'm focused on the weekend," said Hoyng. "I told myself when the time comes, think about another choice. I would think about that. Right now, it's positive thoughts and focus on my opportunity this weekend."