Player Profile #99 – OLB Mark Herzlich

That Mark Herzlich remains under consideration by NFL teams for continuing his football career is one of the “feel good” stories of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Only two years ago, Herzlich was dealing with pain in his left leg as he went through spring football practice. When the ache would not go away, tests were done and the worst fears of a 21-year old were realized – he was diagnosed with bone cancer. Doctors told him his football career was over.

But those doctors did not now this young man from eastern Pennsylvania. Herzlich immediately created two goals – to beat cancer and to return to football. He realized both last year, when he played all season for the Boston College Eagles and was declared cancer free.

Now, he waits for the NFL Draft, where he should be selected anywhere from rounds two through five.

There’s a lot to Mark Herzlich’s story.

FAMILY BUSINESS

Sandon Mark Herzlich, Jr.

Born: September 1, 1987 in Wayne, PA.

Parents are Sandon Herzlich Sr. and Barbara. Dad is a Senior Vice President-Wealth Advisory at the Pitcairn Financial Group in suburban Philadelphia. Mom was the star athlete, earning Hall of Fame honors at Wesleyan College where she played field hockey (three time team captain), lacrosse and squash. Coming out of college, she worked in athletic administration and coaching a prep schools in Massachusetts and St. Louis, and at Eastern University in St. Davids, PA. Younger brother is Bradley also plays LB and attends Brown University.

BODY OF WORK

  • Height – 6-feet, 4 inches.
  • Weight – 244 pounds.
  • Arms – 32 3/8 inches.
  • Hand – 10 inches.
  • 40-yard dash – 4.91 seconds.
  • 20-yard dash – 2.76 seconds.
  • 10-yard dash – 1.71 seconds.
  • Bench press – 29 repetitions at 225 pounds.
  • Vertical jump – 32½ inches.
  • Broad jump – 9-feet, 4 inches.

HIGH SCHOOL

Herzlich graduated from Conestoga High School, class of ’06. The school is in Tredyffrin Township, near Wayne, PA and about 20 miles northwest of Philadelphia in the suburbs that are known there as the Main Line. ‘Stoga High is annually recognized as one of the best academic high schools in the country.

While playing for the Pioneers, Herzlich starred in football and lacrosse, while also playing basketball. In football, he was named team MVP in three seasons while playing for John Vogan. As a senior, Herzlich was named first-team Class AAAA Pennsylvania All-State by the Associated Press. During his senior season of lacrosse he was offered a scholarship by John’s Hopkins, one the premiere lacrosse schools in the country.

FOOTBALL

  • 2005 – finished the season with 153 total tackles at LB, including 4 sacks, with and he returned a blocked field goal for 86 yards and a touchdown. Herzlich was named All- Central League first team, as well as his third MVP honors. Conestoga won the league title.
  • 2004 – played at both LB/FB, scoring three touchdowns and was the team leader in tackles. Herzlich was named his team’s MVP for the second year in row, first-team All-Central League and the Pioneers won the league title.
  • 2003 – saw extensive playing time as a sophomore at LB/FB and was voted the Pioneers MVP for the first of three times.
  • 2002 – played for the freshman team that went 1-10.

RECRUITING

Herzlich drew interest from Boston College, Duke, North Carolina, Vanderbilt and Virginia. Most of the schools recruited him as a defensive end, but both B.C. and the Cavaliers wanted him as an OLB. He committed to Virginia in June ’05, but changed his mind after making a visit in the fall of ’05 and ended up at Boston College in February 2006.

COLLEGE

In five years at Boston College, Herzlich earned an undergraduate degree in marketing, Class of ’10 and he also picked p a Masters in administrative studies.

On the field, he was an immediate contributor to the Eagles defense, playing 13 games in his freshman season, including a pair of starts. It was his 2008 season that gained national attention, when he was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, plus he was a finalist for the Butkus Award and was a third-team All-America selection by the Associated Press.

2010 – Started all 13 games, going back to full-time play in the third week of the season. Herzlich had 65 total tackles, and 3.5 tackles for loss. He added four more interceptions to his career totals, along with forcing two fumbles.

2009 – Redshirt season due to bone cancer.

2008 – Started all 13 games in a season where he was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He was credited with 110 total tackles and 13 tackles for loss. His six interceptions left him tied for eighth in the nation and No. 1 among LBs. He returned two of those INTs for scores, a 34-yard return against Wake Forest and a 60-yard return vs. Rhode Island. He also forced two fumbles and recovered two fumbles.

2007 – Started all 14 games. He had 11 tackles and recovered a fumble in victory over Michigan State in the Champs Sports Bowl. Overall, he had 97 total tackles.

2006 – Played in all 13 games, starting twice. His first start was against Buffalo and he had 14 tackles and one forced fumble. He finished with 42 total tackles and an interception.

 Year

 

G

 

S

 

TT

 

TFL

 

Sacks

 

FF

 

FR

QB

Pres.

Pass

Def.

2010

13

13

65

3.5

0

2

0

1

4

2009

0

0

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

2008

13

13

110

11

2.5

2

2

0

8

2007

14

14

97

12

1.5

2

2

1

4

2006

13

2

42

5

1

2

0

0

2

Total

53

42

314

31.5

5

8

4

3

18

MEDICAL

Herzlich is the medical story of the ’11 NFL Draft class. In May of 2009, he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a malignant tumor often found in bone or soft tissue. It often occurs in male teenagers and most commonly in the pelvic area. Herzlich has been bothered by a sore left leg from the end of the ’08 season through spring practice. An MRI revealed the tumor in his left femur.

Doctors told Herzlich that the survival rate with Ewing’s Sarcoma as 70 percent and they also told him his football career was over.

“I began praying every day that I would be cured of cancer and that I could play football again,” Herzlich said. “As I went through the process, I woke up every day just thinking about those goals, and myself achieving them, visualizing the success. And with that positive mindset, I was able to get there.”

Getting there came from seven months of chemotherapy, five weeks of radiation and a 12-inch titanium rod that runs the length of his lower left leg was inserted.

On September 29, 2009, Herzlich announced he was cancer free, although he did not take part in the ’09 Boston College season.

“My motto through it all was ‘Stay up’,” Herzlich said. “There are a lot of things that can get you down, and staying positive, keeping your head up, always looking forward, that’s what I did.”

In summer work before the ’10 season, Herzlich suffered a stress fracture in his right foot and was limited in practice. But he was in the starting lineup for the season opener against Weber State and contributed five tackles. In early October ’10 he suffered a broken left hand and played the last eight games of the season with a huge wrap. Still he was able to pick off four passes.

EVALUATION FOR PRO FOOTBALL

Strengths – There’s no questioning this guy’s work ethic, whether it’s in the weight room or in studying the game plan. The proverbial coach on the field and he’s got a very high football IQ. His ability to diagnose a play before and then at the snap is a rare ability. He’s versatile and can play both inside and outside. For a man his size, he’s very good in pass coverage and had 10 interceptions in his last two seasons on the field at B.C. One of the best tacklers in college football, and ball carriers seldom get out of his grasp.

Weaknesses – He lacks burst and explosion and was not the same LB in 2010 as he was in 2008. He’s straight line speed is average at 4.9 seconds in the 40-yard dash. His lateral agility is average as well. Boston College used him to rush the passer and he was good in running the edge, but tends to run high and was frequently knocked off his feet. He must learn to use his hands more effectively.

Analysis – One of the great inspirational stories to come out of college football in many years, Herzlich is a young man to root for and he will play in the NFL. The questions on the minds of the NFL-types are about his durability and the cancer.

WHAT THE SCOUTS SAY

From an AFC scout – “I love the kid but drafting him is a gamble. Our doctors say the chances of him having to deal with cancer again are very good. I think he’ll go later in the draft, probably on the third day.

From an NFC scout – “I don’t know that he’ll stay on our board. He’s red flagged because of the health problems, not just the cancer, but playing last year with a broken hand and a stress fracture in his foot. He’s also not very fast or quick. If he stays healthy, he’ll help somebody.”

WHAT HE HAS TO SAY

“Hitting is the best part of what I do. I have to be physical and angry when I play.”

“Once it comes down to all the things that can be taken away from you, that’s when I realized I wanted football to be a part of my life. But I’m not going to settle for, ‘OK, I got back on the field.’ I’m going to push myself to get better and be the best I can.”

Here’s part of his press conference at the NFL Combine:

 herzlich

WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT HIM

Wake Forest center Russell Nenon: “No one really knows what he’s been through. But anyone who’s played against him knows what a terrific linebacker he is. It’s an honor to play against him.”

Boston College defensive coordinator Bill McGovern – “Whatever Mark says he’s going to do, he’s going to do. He’s one of those guys you never bet against.”

Boston College OT Anthony Castonzo – “It’s amazing to see what a person can overcome. I’ve definitely taken a lot out of witnessing Mark’s fight. I now believe that we can do anything in life. Mark didn’t just beat caner; he really broke cancer’s will. It’s just amazing that within a year, he beat that disease and was back playing college football.”

DOES HE FIT WITH THE CHIEFS?

In so many ways Mark Herzlich fits the template the Chiefs want from their players. In many ways talking with him and watching tape of his play is a reminder of a young Mike Vrabel (he’s about 15 pounds lighter than the veteran). From the chest up, there’s not a better player available in this draft in desire and smarts. The question comes down to his lack of ideal speed and quickness. There’s no way that deficiency can be overcome on a consistent basis.

Comments are closed.



Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Categories

Other News

Archives


RSS


Pages

Home