Nearly six years after he rewrote the Shorecrest High School record books, Jesse Hoffman is taking his football prowess to the NFL.
Though he had worked out with the Jacksonville Jaguars in April, Hoffman signed as an undrafted free agent with the Seattle Seahawks on Tuesday. For Hoffman, the signing was a culmination of years of hard work and determination, dating back to his days with the Scots.
"I can't even describe it, it's an amazing feeling. To have the guys I watched on TV be right next to me, it's incredible," Hoffman said.
He credited his coaches and teachers from Shorecrest for helping him reach toward his goal.
"It's been a blast. I've learned a lot from my coaches and teachers along the way,"he said. "I credit my success to them. Without them and my parents, I wouldn't be where I am today."
Hoffman broke out during his senior season at Shorecrest, rushing for over 2,000 yards, and scoring 37 all-purpose touchdowns while leading the Scots to their first state-playoff berth since 1994. During that season, he would break the school's single game rushing record three times, and during a winner-to-state 57-56 victory over Lynden, Hoffman would run for a school-record 397 yards, while finding the end zone seven times. After the season, Hoffman would go down as Shorecrest's all-time leading rusher, and receive first 3A All-State honors from the Associated Press, while also being named to the Seattle Times All-State team.
"To put it simply, Jesse Hoffman is the best player to ever walk the halls of Shorecrest, I would speculate," said Brandon Christensen, Shorecrest head coach, and defensive coordinator during Hoffman's time at the school. "A school built on 50 years of tradition may have something to say about that, but I think his marks from the 2005 season pretty much put a stamp on it."
After being recruited by the likes of Washington, Washington State, Oregon, and Idaho, Hoffman would commit to Eastern Washington, eager for the opportunity to play running back. However, it wasn't smooth sailing for Hoffman at the college level.
After being the Eagles third-leading rusher his freshman year with 234 yards, Hoffman would be forced to redshirt the next year after dislocating his elbow during the first game of his second season. For his sophomore year, Hoffman would be moved to the defensive side of the ball, after the losses of Gregor Smith to injury, and Taiwan Jones to a position switch. However, the move to safety brought inconsistency.
"Between 2008 and 2009 we made a staff adjustment with our secondary. It wasn't the best mesh for Jesse and he kind of got lost about halfway through the season," said Torey Hunter, the secondary coach at Eastern. "I asked Jesse one question, would he commit to being a corner. He said yes, and his natural work ethic and ability began to flourish. He was a hard, tireless worker who evolved into a very dominant player for us here at Eastern!"
After solid play to start his junior year at corner in games against Western Oregan and Pac-10 foe Cal, the injury bug would bite Hoffman again, as he would sprain his knee and ankle in a Friday walk-through practice. Hoffman would be relegated to sharing reps for the rest of the season. But in 2010, everything would fall into place.
Out of the gates, Hoffman would win a starting cornerback job, and would take full advantage of the opportunity. Hoffman would be fourth on the team in solo tackles with 40, to go along with three interceptions. He would also become a key contributor on special teams, with three kickoff returns for touchdowns, including a 97-yarder against Northern Colorado, and an 88-yard return versus North Dakota State in the NCAA quarterfinals. The year would end on a high note, with the Eagles battling back from a 19 point third quarter defecit to defeat Delaware 20-19, taking home the school's first Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) title.
With the signing, Hoffman becomes the third Shorecrest graduate to appear on an NFL roster, and the first one in over 20 years. Hoffman joins former Steelers guard Ray Pinney (a 1972 graduate) and former Raiders and Patriots quarterback Marc Wilson (a 1975 grad).
The opportunity to join that company, and make an NFL roster isn't lost on Hoffman's mother, Teri Bryant.
"He's still going to have some challenges but we're hoping for the best," said Bryant. "I told him to be thankful for this opportunity because not many people get this chance."
Coach Christensen also thinks the future is bright for Hoffman.
"As for the kind of player I think Jesse is, amazing sums it up. I have had the privilege to watch this young man compete on the highest possible stages in his career, and I know he will do well at this next challenge."