Thread: Hoag still pursues dream
08-15-2006, 07:56 AM #1
Hoag still pursues dream
[size=16pt]Hoag still pursues dream[/size]
Former Gustie again in Vikings camp
By Chad Courrier
The Free Press
When Ryan Hoag left Mankato last season, then was released by the Minnesota Vikings, this is the last place n the NFL he thought heâ€™d be this summer.
But here he is, catching passes, chasing punts and signing autographs for his third summer at Minnesota State.
â€œThis is probably 32nd on the list of teams I thought Iâ€™d be with,â€ Hoag said earlier this week. â€œBut I was confident I still had some football left in me.â€
The Gustavus Adolphus grad may have been the only one who held that belief back in early September, when he was among the final cuts of the Vikings. He thought heâ€™d get an opportunity with other teams, but that never came. Hoag thought heâ€™d be back with the Vikings during Week 4, when coach Mike Tice called to tell him that he would be signed the next day.
But that day passed, then another. A week later, Tice called back to say he couldnâ€™t find a roster spot for Hoag.
â€œHe called me and told me that I would be signed, I better get in game shape,â€ Hoag said. â€œHe told me I was going to play this position and this position and this position. Then he called back and was laughing. He said, â€˜I bet youâ€™ve been sitting by the phone waiting.â€™
â€œI was excited, thinking this was my shot. But that really made me question if I ever wanted to play again because of how much that hurt.â€
Hoag helped out with the Gustavus team, and he returned to Minneapolis Washburn to work with kids at his former high school. He set his sights on NFL Europe, getting offers to join Tampa Bay or Carolina to get allocated overseas. But both the Buccaneersâ€™ and Panthersâ€™ rosters were loaded with receivers, so he tried to get into NFL Europe as a free agent.
But none of the European teams selected Hoag, giving him even further reason to believe his dreams of playing in the NFL might be in jeopardy.
â€œI thought if Iâ€™m not good enough for NFL Europe, maybe thatâ€™s a sign,â€ Hoag said.
Hoag trained during the winter in Florida, and when there was a coaching change with the Vikings, he contacted the organization to see if there was an opportunity. He didnâ€™t get a call back until April, when the team needed receivers and brought in Hoag and another player for a workout.
Hoag stuck, and now the 26-year-old is in his fourth training camp, third with the Vikings. He was a flanker last season, but heâ€™s moved to split end, practicing with the second and third units.
â€œOne thing I know about Ryan is that he can run all day long,â€ offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. â€œWhether itâ€™s the conditioning test or you put him out there for 10 plays in a row, the guy can run.
â€œHeâ€™s been catching the ball well. When he has the opportunity, he has to show up. Weâ€™ll be able to see that in games.â€
Last preseason, he made eight receptions, six in one game. In tonightâ€™s preseason opener against Oakland at the Metrodome, Hoag said, he is to play the entire third quarter at receiver, and heâ€™s been told to be ready for spot duty in the second and fourth quarters. He also expects to play on special teams, which he said is more important to his future.
â€œItâ€™d be good to see what I could do if I got in there for two or three quarters solid, played every down and special teams,â€ he said. â€œEspecially the special teams. Iâ€™m realistic. I know if Iâ€™m going to make the team, itâ€™s because of special teams.â€
"If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"
08-15-2006, 12:13 PM #2
Re: Hoag still pursues dream
That's my boy. He should make this team.
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