Before September 9, 2017, the Eastern Michigan Eagles football program had over 1,000 games under its belt. Unfortunately, not a single one of those contests resulted in a triumph over a Power Five school. But that history was forever edited on that late September afternoon in the small college town of Piscataway, New Jersey.
Leading 16-13 after an early fourth quarter field goal, Eastern Michigan had to rely on its defense to thwart the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Big Ten foe stormed down the field and planted its flag in Eagles’ territory, in position to tie it up or gain advantage — until strong safety Brody Hoying dramatically swung the field position in an instant.
On 3rd-and-3, the Coldwater, OH native jumped the gun and quickly snagged Kyle Bolin’s attempt to throw a curl flat route at the sticks. Hoying raced 71 yards down the right sideline and nearly sealed the victory with a pick-six but was tackled several feet short of glory. However, Hoying’s interception will forever be ingrained in Eastern Michigan lore as the defining moment which contributed to the program’s first Power Five and first Big Ten victory.
Hoying is a 5’11”, 203-pound strong safety who particularly thrives as a hard hitter in the secondary. He was an all-around athlete at Coldwater High School, excelling at the quarterback position in addition to his duties at safety. If a quarterback named “Hoying” sounds familiar, it’s because Brody’s cousin, Bobby, served as Ohio State’s signal caller in the mid-1990s and started for the Philadelphia Eagles at the professional level.
Just like his relative, there are clear signs of pro potential in Brody, too. The First Team All-MAC selection was a breakout star in Ypsilanti last year with 78 tackles, four forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. He intercepted a pass in each of his first two games last year, including a pick-six in the opener against Charlotte. Now entering his junior campaign, Hoying enters the year as one of the team’s two lone returning First Team All-MAC selections with defensive end Maxx Crosby.
One thing I expect to see more out of Hoying in 2018 is blitzes. He’s proved his hitting ability time and time again, registering double-digit tackles in three games last season. The safety has just one career sack to his name, but he possesses substantial strength and speed to shed off blockers and land a hit on the quarterback.
He’ll play a significant role in a secondary that only allowed about 190 passing yards per game (26th in FBS) and a defense that permitted just 23.3 points per outing (41st). After losing longtime starting quarterback Brogan Roback to graduation, Hoying and the Eagles’ defense will be the key to boosting the team back into bowl season.