BEREA, Ohio -- Four years ago, Baldwin Wallace University senior All-Ohio Athletic Conference football safety Brock Hull (Youngstown/ Boardman) came to Berea with goals of leading the Yellow Jackets to an NCAA Division III national title and earning individual All-America honors. This week, Hull and his teammates will play their biggest game of the season when they host No.1-ranked University of Mount Union on September 24 at The George Finnie Stadium.
"We are really looking forward to this game," said Hull, a biology major with a 3.1 grade point average who has been a key member of the BW defense since his freshman season. "We are playing a great opponent who we have a great deal of respect for. I personally know a number of their players. And, its a great opportunity to see where we are as a program and how much we have improved from a year ago."
Hull comes into the game and in the midst of his final season of football pleased with his decision to come to BW.
"I decided to come to BW because it was the only school that recruited me as a safety," said Hull. "The others all recruited me as a wide receiver since that's the position where I received all-conference honors. It gave me the opportunity to sort of reinvent myself as a football student-athlete at a great university.
"Once I got to BW, I really like the school and location," said Hull, who also has served as a student assistant in the sports information office when he is out of football season. "It's an hour from Youngstown which was a really big influence for me because I wanted to be somewhat close to my family."
"It was a great decision for me to come to BW," said Hull in retrospect. "I love the university and my teammates. My other choice was to go to Washington & Jefferson (Pa.) University for football or just go to either Youngstown State University or Kent State University and not play football. In the end, I chose BW. The lessons I've learned both in the classroom and from football will benefit me a great deal down the road. The friendships I've made are lifelong."
As a freshman, Hull split time between the varsity and junior varsity teams and received a certificate of participation. On the varsity, he made a pair of tackles.
As a sophomore, Hull split time between outside linebacker and then moved to safety full time and where he has remained a mainstay for veteran 15th-year Head Coach John Snell.
"Brock is an outstanding student, leader and football player," said Snell, who has a 90-54 career record. "He comes to practice every day with a mission to improve. He is a great role model for our younger student-athletes to watch and learn how to do it the right way."
Assistant Coach and secondary coach Mark Johnston feels the same way.
"Brock has brought great leadership and toughness to our defense and entore football team," said Johnston. "He has the experience and football IQ (intelligence quotent) to make the necessary adjustments throughout a game, which is extremely important."
Hull returns to a veteran secondary where he and junior strong safety Trypp Washington '18 (Orlando, Fla./ First Academy) are the top players as two-year starters. Hull also is one of four team captains.
"Every day, Brock comes to the Packard Center [BW's football and lacrosse facility named after legendary coach Bob Packard '65 who coached for 38 years at BW and never had a losing season] with the goal of getting better and being a vital team leader," said Snell. "He is one of our hardest workers and is a great leader.
"Our younger players look up to Brock," continued Snell. "They see his work-ethic both in the classroom and on the field and try to emulate it. That is a tribute to Brock and his commitment to his academics and athletics. We are very proud of the man that Brock continues to become."
In terms of being a team captain, Hull had to put his best foot forward. At BW, each captain candidate has to apply for the position just like a job interview. He must by write a cover letter, provide a resume and then go through an interview process. Hull passed with flying colors.
"It is a real honor to be a team captain at BW," said Hull with a big smile. "After I was elected, Kevin Phipps '11 [fifth-year assistant track coach and former football team captain and All-OAC defensive tackle] was one of the first people to congratulate me and said 'welcome to the club'. That really stood out for me because of the tradition we have here at BW.
"The fact that my teammates and alumni consider me in that caliber is a tremendous honor," said Hull. "It makes me want to work even harder in order to exceed expectations as well as setting a good example for the entire team."
In his junior season of a year ago, Hull blossomed into one of the top defensive backs in the OAC. He started at safety all 10 games, was sixth on the team in total tackles with 58, led the team with three interceptions and BW finished 7-3 overall and tied for second in the OAC with JCU and Ohio Northern University with a 7-2 record.
"Our goal is to win the OAC title and earn a berth in the Division III Playoffs with the ultimate goal of winning a second national title in football at BW," said Hull, who has 80 career tackles. "Individually, I would like to be first-team All-OAC and a Division III All-American. To do it, I know I have to play at a high level every game, and most importantly make a significant contribution to my team and teammates."
One of the teammates that Hull has become like a brother with is junior outside linebacker Sam Groff '18 (Waynesburg/ Sandy Valley).
"Sam is truly my brother and best friend at this university," said Hull. "I have never met anyone my age who I respect more. His even keel personality and insight keeps me in check not only on the football field, but also academically. I have full faith and trust in him on the field. Off the field, he pushes me academically to get my work done. I've had some really good relationships with professors on our campus, especially in the business division, but no one has more of an impact on me than Sam."
After graduation, Hull plans to take a year off of school to "build up my resume and bank account." Then apply to Palmer Life and National Universities to become a Doctor of Chiropractic.
"Right now, I am trying to balance my time between school and football," said Hull. "I learned from my parents about time management skills and making a list each and every day. I try to stay focused and passionate about what I need to do to succeed in the classroom and on the field."
Hull also has a message for young men who also are interested in coming to BW and playing football for the Yellow Jackets.
"If you want to be a valued part of something greater than yourself and not just be a gear in a machine, then come to BW," said Hull. "The family atmosphere that Coach Snell and his staff have created really makes the team tick. Our coordinators and position coaches truly care for your development and growth."
"The same is true for BW professors," continued Hull. "They go out of their way to see that you succeed. This is all contingent on you wanting to put in the necessary work yourself. If you have an unwavering work ethic, you will succeed at BW and afterwards."
Following its game this Saturday versus Mount Union, BW will take to the road for games at Marietta College on Saturday, October 1 at 1:30 p.m. and at Wilmington College on Oct. 8 at 2 p.m. Then BW plays at home versus Muskingum College on Oct. 15 at 1:30 p.m.