Akouris: Pocic does little Lemont proud
October 14, 2012 8:14PM
Offensive tackle Ethan Pocic (right) is presented with a jersery for the Under Armour All-America High School Football Game by West Chicago American Family Insurance agent David Maraccini (left) at Lemont High School Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, at 800 Porter St. in Lemont. The game will be played at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida, in January. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 16, 2012 6:23AM
Ethan Pocic seems larger than life. At 6-7, 290 pounds the Lemont lineman towers over his teammates and coaches. And nowhere was that more evident than in Lemont’s cafeteria Friday morning, when Pocic received his game jersey for the annual Under Armour All-America game.
Pocic, an LSU recruit who had more than 30 scholarship offers, is one of two area players to be selected for the Under Armour All-America High School football game in January. It is the sixth annual game and is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Jan. 4 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. It will be broadcast on ESPN.
Joining Pocic at the Under Armour game is Lincoln-Way West’s Colin McGovern. Both received their jerseys in ceremonies at their respective schools this week.
They both have committed to play football at Division I schools — McGovern to Notre Dame. There were 90 players chosen from across the country to play in the Under Armour game.
“I was pumped, because I knew it was the game I wanted to play in,” Pocic said. “In my opinion, all the top recruits are playing in this one. It’s the achievement of it, because not everyone is selected to play in it.”
And Pocic will have a familiar face on the sidelines during the game, too. Lemont coach Eric Michaelsen was selected to be an assistant coach.
Michaelsen has seen many stellar players pass through his program, but even with Pocic’s national honor, he was still happily surprised and didn’t expect it.
“You just never know,” Michaelsen said. “We’re just little Lemont High School, and to have someone recognized like this is quite an honor for us. I’ve coached in Illinois [all-star games] before, but nothing like this. So it’s quite an honor.”
Pocic gave LSU a verbal commitment in May after making an unofficial visit to the Baton Rouge, La. campus. Playing in the SEC, the nation’s premier college football conference, is something that is daunting to Pocic, yet it is also what attracted him to the school in the first place.
“When I went down there, I knew it was the place to be,” Pocic said. “They run a pro-style offense and they love running the ball. It’s my kind of offense that I want to play in.
“Knowing I have to go out of my confort zone and go down south on my own, [it’s intimidating], but I have to grow up.”
Michaelsen said there were so many schools that offered Pocic, it was different than what had happened to high-profile Lemont recruits in the past. Michaelsen said it almost felt like LSU came out of nowhere, and he is fairly sure that Pocic is the first Lemont football player in his 11 seasons as head coach who will compete for an SEC school in recent memory.
“Since I’ve been here, yes (Pocic is the first SEC football recruit), but every so often I’ll find out that someone from the 1950s did something or other,” Michaelsen said. “And the credit goes to Ethan, because he put in the work. To have a player go to the SEC is really nice, too.”
But Pocic isn’t the only member of his family with a football pedigree. Older brother Graham, who is five years older than Ethan, is an offensive lineman at Illinois and is also a towering 6-7, 310 pounds. Michaelsen said the brothers are both hard working leaders, who have the football smarts to take the game to the next level.
Although Illinois is having its issues this season under first-year coach Tim Beckman — the Illini are 2-4 overall, winless in the Big Ten and are in the midst of a three-game losing streak where they have been outscored 118-45 — Pocic said his brother hasn’t been complaining.
“I just talk to him about my season and what I could do to get better, just stuff like that,” Pocic said.
Like any siblings, there is the usual competitive nature between the brothers, but it’s not one that gets carried away.
“I’m trying to get up to his standards right now, and if I wasn’t, he would be mad,” Pocic said.
But was Graham surprised that his little brother chose an SEC school instead of one in the Big Ten?
“Yeah, a little bit, but he knows how competitive it is down there,” Pocic said. “He told me to make the right decision. He never really put any pressure on me about (choosing to play in the Big Ten). He just said he’d support me wherever I’d go.”
From the days when Pocic started youth football with the Hornets pee-wee team out of Lemont, he never thought football would take him this far.
“When I went from flag football to the Hornets, it was just a different game and I wasn’t too good,” Pocic said. “I’ve just been improving a lot.”