Fans of the Wildcats will have a Saint Ignatius alumnus to root for on Super Bowl Sunday.
Brian Hoyer '04 will represent the Wildcats when he takes the field with the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.
As Tom Brady looks to add to his incredible resume with a record sixth Super Bowl win, Hoyer will look to earn something no Saint Ignatius alumnus has ever attained as an NFL player-- a Super Bowl ring.
Hoyer will have quite a contingent of fans rooting for him in Northeast Ohio, including Head Coach Chuck Kyle '69.
"It's very exciting to see someone you coached in the Super Bowl," said Coach Kyle. "People ask, 'Who are you rooting for in the Super Bowl?' Well, it's obvious! We're rooting for the Patriots, because I would love to see Brian get that ring."
Hoyer has experienced a lengthy and winding road to Super Bowl LIII. Following two fruitful years as a starter for the Wildcats, Hoyer played at Michigan State University. Hoyer enjoyed great careers for both the Wildcats and Spartans, but no NFL team selected him in the 2009 NFL Draft.
As a result, Hoyer ended up in the undrafted free agent pool. As fate would have it, Hoyer ended up with one of the most successful franchises in pro sports -- the Patriots. It turned out to be a stroke of luck for Hoyer.
"When you look at it, he wasn't drafted, but maybe that was good. We've had quarterbacks drafted before," Kyle said. "You're subject to that team. They got you. Brian was a free agent and he could pick what scenario was right for him, and he picked the right one. Dave Ragone '98 had a great college career and was drafted early in the third round by the Texans. The year before, they had drafted their guy. Three years later, when your rookie contract is up, they're going to go for a cheaper guy. For Dave, that was disappointing. But Dave is a quarterbacks coach for the Chicago Bears, so he's doing okay. But it depends on what team you end up on."
Hoyer spent three seasons with the Patriots (including a 2011 loss in Super Bowl XLVI), learning from Brady. Then he headed west. The North Olmsted native spent a few games with the Arizona Cardinals in 2012 before the team parted ways with him. With Kyle's blessing, Hoyer returned to Saint Ignatius after being cut, throwing passes to Wildcats receivers.
The Cleveland Browns signed Hoyer before the 2013 season, giving Hoyer a chance to play for his hometown team. Hoyer compiled a 10-6 record as the starter, and remains the only signalcaller to have a winning record in Cleveland since 1999. Even still, his journey headed in a different direction after two seasons with the Browns, as he signed with the Texans in 2015.
After helping to lead Houston to the playoffs, Hoyer ended up as a starter with the 49ers. Hoyer started six games before Jimmy Garoppolo was traded to San Francisco. Hoyer returned to his roots in 2017, joining the Patriots as Brady's backup again.
Hoyer and the Patriots went to the Super Bowl last season, but the upstart Philadelphia Eagles spoiled Hoyer's second shot at a ring.
Leading up to his third Super Bowl appearance, Hoyer has played a key role for the Patriots. As the scout team quarterback, Hoyer has prepared the Patriots' defense for the opposing offense.
"What won't be caught on camera is how Brian has helped the team prepare these last two weeks," Kyle said. "There was a nice article about how he helped the scout offense prepare the defense. The defensive guys really thanked him. He got them ready for two different styles of quarterbacks. The fact that Brian is an excellent baseball player helped him imitate [Patrick] Mahomes. He was throwing it sidearm. Everyone seemed surprised, but that's what you're going to see in a game. They appreciated that he was unselfish."
Hoyer indeed starred on the baseball diamond during his time at Saint Ignatius. As a sophomore, Hoyer helped the Baseball Cats claim the lone state title in program history in 2002. Hoyer still holds the career program record for home runs with 18.
Brad Ganor, assistant athletic director and baseball head coach, vows that Hoyer is one of the best players to ever wear a baseball uniform at Wildcat High.
One of the greatest players in NFL history also recognizes Hoyer's talents. Tom Brady feels lucky to work with Hoyer.
"We've obviously had a long friendship and we've hit it off since he got here and then he left for a bunch of years and we always kept in touch," Brady said at a press conference earlier this week. "It's just been great to have him back. I've always just really enjoyed my time with him. He's got a great mannerism about him. He's very positive. It's really great for me to have him here because he's always encouraging. He's just a great teammate to have, not only his role in his position, he always just has a great understanding of what we do. I lean on him for a lot of things and he's a great friend. He'll always be a great friend. Obviously I love him being in that position."
Brady spoke highly of his Saint Ignatius connections. Beyond his relationship with Hoyer, Brady roomed with Wildcats' star Pat Kratus '95 at the University of Michigan. In fact, Brady donned a lucky Wildcats football T-shirt during his playing days with the Wolverines.
"He's a great passer of the football and he's good in any condition," Brady said of Hoyer. "He grew up in Ohio. He went to Saint Ignatius High School, which is where my college roommate went, so I obviously knew a lot about Saint Ignatius and Brian going to Michigan State. There's obviously a lot of connections and then he gets drafted here. He's really a great person. He's a great dad, a great family-man and again, I just love kind of hanging with him."
Hoyer and Brady have certainly been working in tandem this week to prepare for the Rams' defense. Both signalcallers would love to hoist the Lombardi Trophy. Besides a beautiful ring, a player on the winning team earns a cool $118,000.
But whatever the result, Hoyer has a bright future ahead. The family man and skilled quarterback could be an excellent coach, Coach Kyle believes.
"He's made a wonderful career. When it's time to hang it up as far as playing, he could be an excellent quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator," said Kyle. "He enjoys the conceptual complexity of football. If he wanted to, he could be a really good coach. But we'll see what he does."
As for this Sunday, Wildcats fans will be cheering for Hoyer and the Patriots.