PLYMOUTH — With all the success Plymouth football has enjoyed over the past three-year cycle, colleges around the country are taking notice.
The Rockies have graduated numerous college recruits in the past several seasons, and a trio of Plymouth players is continuing that tradition in 2011.
PHS seniors Damon Howe, Brock Smith and Houston Hodges will all continue their football careers at the collegiate level.
Howe, a four-year starting offensive lineman, will move on to play at the University of Findlay in Ohio, while fellow four-year starter and Rockies quarterback Houston Hodges and three-year starting back Brock Smith will both join the roster at Wabash College next season.
“We’ve been really fortunate to have kids that not only were talented enough to play in high school but to go on and play at the college level,” said Plymouth head football coach John Barron. “Having some of the successes they’ve had has been not only a credit to them, but it also certainly speaks well of our Rockie football program and trying to get kids to continue to play football at the next level. It definitely has helped kids lower that tuition and get a quality education, and that’s something that we take a lot of pride in.
“No question that those kids were part of some good football teams and a couple Northern Lakes Conference championships, and you don’t have to look too much farther than those three (Howe, Smith, Hodges) for a big part of the reason for that success.”
While Hodges and Smith are making the trip together, Smith said the two respected each others’ independence during the decision-making process as they decided the best fits for their individual talents.
“We didn’t collaborate too much,” said Smith. “We would ask each other what we were thinking every once in awhile, but we didn’t try to persuade the other person to do anything.”
Not only will the duo continue on the Little Giants together, they’ll also be reunited with another Rockies football alumnus at Wabash in Hodges’ older brother and 2009 PHS grad Austin Hodges.
“It’s nice; it was a big part of my recruiting there, a big reason why I’m going there,” Hodges said. “To get to play with Brock and my brother just kind of like it was back in high school is something that really excited me.”
Hodges is a versatile athlete with the unique distinction of having lettered in four different varsity sports while at Plymouth. He was courted not only for football but will play basketball at Wabash next year as well.
“My senior year it just hit me that I didn’t want to give it up. It meant a lot to me to go to play football,” said Hodges. “I always knew I wanted to play basketball; that was my main goal. To get to play football and basketball is just unbelievable.”
“Houston has been all-conference in four, not three sports, and I don’t know when the last time an athlete’s done that is,” said Barron. “I think he’ll have 11 varsity letters by the time it’s all said and done… As far as high school athletes go, Houston is one of those guys that you can do a lot of things with just because he was so explosive”
Howe, who was selected to represent the north in the 2011 Indiana Football Coaches Association North-South All-Star game, said that while Findlay football has struggled in recent times, he liked the enthusiasm he saw from coaches and players as they try to rebuild the program.
“They’ve been down the last few years,” said Howe. “They’ve got a brand-new coaching staff. They’re all optimistic, they’re all ready for the season, and they’re expecting everyone to come in and work hard. We’ve got a decent recruiting class this year and some pretty good transfers. When I was at that campus I just felt that it was right because all the coaches were just ready to go, ready to start the season.”
Howe is a three-time All-Northern Lakes Conference and two-time South Bend Tribune Dream Team selection. He is an IFCA All-State pick for 2009-10 and an AP All-State selection for 2010. Smith is a two-time All-NLC pick and an Academic All-State honoree, while Hodges is a three-time NLC and two-time Tribune Dream Team pick as well as an Academic All-State selection.