A 2016 Loyola graduate, Jack Hough (No. 50 in picture above) was a starter on one of the best football teams in school history. The 2015 Ramblers finished 14-0 and captured the Class 8A state championship with a 41-0 win over Marist. Hough, a defensive end, was part of a defense that surrendered an average of 8.9 points and 3.9 yards per play.

Instead of going straight to college, Hough enrolled at Choate Rosemary Hall, a prep school in Wallingford, Connecticut, to better prepare himself for a shot at a Division I scholarship, which had been a dream of his since he was young. His plan paid off Wednesday, Feb. 1, when the 6-foot-3, 235-pound Hough signed a National Letter of Intent with Army.

Maroon & Gold: Explain your decision to go to prep school.

Jack Hough: I didn’t play much my junior season, so I didn’t have too much film for colleges. I then broke my wrist before the Prep Bowl and had surgery, so the recovery took up most of my offseason going into my senior year. I got the starting job as a senior, but I didn’t think I had enough film or exposure to play at the Division I level. I had lived on the East Coast growing up, so I knew about prep schools. I decided to send out some film to Choate. I wanted to have that extra year to get bigger, faster and stronger.

M&G: What was the level of competition like?

JH: Pretty straightforward. The Catholic Blue is a level above it. There was some talent that played in the league, but it’s only a few guys. Two wide receivers have full rides to Michigan, a defensive lineman is going to Clemson. There is top-end talent. But team-wise, it’s not nearly the same as the Catholic League.

M&G: How did your season go?

JH: It wasn’t an easy road. The week before the first game I dislocated my wrist, and I missed two games. I played the whole year with a cast, and I was able to play in seven of the nine games. It definitely was worth it. I got the offers I wanted.

M&G: Army isn’t your average Division I program. Why did you choose the Black Knights?

JH: The service academies were ones I never thought much about. But Army came and met me in October and got on my radar. Once I got the offer the first week in January, I started to seriously consider them as an option. First off, it’s FBS [Football Bowl Subdivision]. It’s also one of the best educations you can get. On my visit, I got a chance to talk with the guys and be around the team. They are guys like me who love football, and it’s an amazing brotherhood. You feel that right off the bat. I am proud to become part of the brotherhood that goes along with being a West Point cadet.

M&G: I imagine it doesn’t hurt that Army beat Navy last season and had one of its best seasons in years, finishing 8-5, the most wins since 1996. But attending a service academy comes with a lot of responsibility. Upon graduation, you are committed to the military for five years.

JH: I sensed something special was going on with them this year. I grew up watching the Army-Navy games. They are one-of-a-kind. It’s nice knowing they are coming off that type of season. I know this is a unique thing to do, but it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I know it won’t be easy, but it was something I felt like I wanted to do.

M&G: How much did you follow Loyola’s 2016 football season?

JH: All the time. Me and some of my former teammates had a group chat going every single week of the season. We broke the games down like Monday morning quarterbacks.

Photo credit: Ross Mortensen