HUDSON — Most graduated seniors with college football aspirations on the Division I level knew about where they were heading on signing day in February.
However, former Hudson High running back Noah Siegrist has had a much different take on the recruiting process. After rushing for more than 1,000 yards and leading the Cobras to the playoffs, Siegrist wasn’t receiving the type of attention from colleges like many high school stars receive. Then came a call from the University of Texas El-Paso. The Miners’ interest was small at first, but the more they saw of Siegrist, the more they liked the shifty running back. Mutual interest grew and Siegrist visted the campus and received strong attention from UTEP coach Sean Kugler.
“It was getting close to signing day and I wasn’t getting that much interest,” Siegrist said. “All of a sudden after signing day, I got blown up by a bunch of different schools about walking on and UTEP came up. I was considering a couple Division III schools, but UTEP called me and I ended up visiting the campus. The head coach talked to me a couple times and he cared a lot that I was there. At UTEP, I felt like a majority of the coaches want me there.”
From being a virtual unknown to many colleges across the country to becoming a preferred walk-on at a Bowl Championship Series school, the undersized but speedy tailback entered the summer working harder then ever, knowing that his spot on the Miners’ football team isn’t guaranteed. Though Siegrist has made the commitment to be a walk-on at UTEP, that has doubled the pressure on earning a spot on the roster. Thinking about playing time will be on the back-burner for now, as nerves give way to competing with several other backs for a position on the depth chart.
“Right now, I’m not sure about playing as a freshman,” Siegrist said. “I know I’ll have to compete with a few other running backs when I’m there. I’m not gonna lie, I’m nervous but I’m already working on getter faster and playing with and against better talent. I want to go to UTEP, stay at UTEP and perform at UTEP.”
Helping Siegrist in his quest to make UTEP’s squad is local speed trainer Rob Oppedisano, who has worked with professionals like former NFLers Darren and Troy Hambrick, Travis Henry, Devon Hicks and current pros Greg Jenkins, George Selvie and Nigel Carr. Oppedisano has focused the summer training on improving upon Siegrist’s lateral movement and cutting ability. The longtime Pasco County speed trainer believes if the Hudson product gets a shot in the backfield with the Miners, Siegrist will be sure to make an impression on the field.
“He’s prepared to do anything that I ask of him,” Oppedisano said. “He really wants this opportunity to work out for him. We’re trying to improve his speed and have him make stronger cuts. It’s only going to protect him in the long run. It’s hard for any freshman to go on the scene and earn some playing time. Noah is going to work, so if he gets the opportunity, he’ll make the most out of it.”
Correspondent Andy Villamarzo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.