Huppee signs for football with Hardin-Simmons

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Liberty Hill senior center Kyle Huppee signs his letter of intent to play football at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. He was joined (from left) by his sister, Emily, his father, John and his mother, Christine. (Paul Livengood Photo)

Liberty Hill senior center Kyle Huppee signs his letter of intent to play football at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. He was joined (from left) by his sister, Emily, his father, John and his mother, Christine. (Paul Livengood Photo)

By KEITH SPARKS

Liberty Hill senior center Kyle Huppee signed his letter of intent Friday to play football at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene.

Huppee’s commitment comes one week after he was named a first-team all-state offensive lineman by the Padilla Poll, and an Honorable Mention to the Texas Sports Writers Association’s all-state team.

One of the reasons Huppee decided to attend Hardin-Simmons was the high level of energy and positivity that surrounds the university’s football program. That atmosphere is something he was first exposed to during a visit to the campus last summer, where he was able to meet some of his future teammates and members of the coaching staff.

“Just the positivity that was going on,” Huppee said of his reasoning. “The coaching staff is young. They have a lot of energy to them. They make practice fun, they change stuff up, and they never get stuck in the same routine, so it will be interesting.”

While he hopes to see some playing time as a freshman, Huppee understands that it will be an uphill battle as a first-year player, especially while playing center, arguably one of the most important positions in the game.

“I’ll try my hardest to make an impact as a freshman,” Huppee said, “but I feel like sophomore year will be the year that I’ll make my biggest impact.”

One of the biggest differences between high school and collegiate athletes is typically sheer size and strength. That becomes especially true as an offensive lineman.

In order to prepare for football at the collegiate level, Huppee is currently spending as much time in the weight room as possible, both on his own and as a team while training with the Liberty Hill powerlifters.

The closer it gets to graduation, however, the more involved the Hardin-Simmons coaching staff will be with his training. Huppee expects that he’ll be put on a weight training and conditioning program directly from the HSU coaching staff once his senior year has come to a close.

Before signing to play at Hardin-Simmons, Huppee also considered attending Norwich University, a private military college in Vermont. What set Hardin-Simmons apart, however, was simply a gut feeling that Huppee had during his visit.

“Just the way it felt, you know,” Huppee said. “It felt more like family than just a college.”

Huppee started every game of his senior year at Liberty Hill, finishing the 2016 football season with 76 pancake blocks. His consistent production will be a welcome addition to a Hardin-Simmons team that saw a successful 9-2 season in 2016. The HSU Cowboys’ season ended with a 24-10 loss to Linfield College in the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Huppee will be joining a Hardin-Simmons team that already has five centers on the roster, each with at least one year of college experience. The competition for the starting spot doesn’t intimidate him, though. In fact, it’s something he’s looking forward to.

“Just more competition,” Huppee said about what he expects to see at the next level. “The fact that every day I step on the field, I’m competing for that spot.”

Off the field, the all-state center plans to major in criminal justice.

Sports@LHIndependent.com

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