Bags are Packed, Hope is Filled. Mike Van Hoeven Wants to Make It Happen in XFL
EMU's former center's no stranger to taking the road less traveled.
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All he’s asked for is a chance.
On Tuesday last week, that chance came around 6 p.m. when he finally got the phone call. A year since finishing up college and not getting an opportunity to be an NFL rookie and a month and a half after not getting his name called in the XFL’s draft, Mike Van Hoeven’s shot finally came his way.
Congratulations, you’ve been picked up by the Arlington Renegades. Your first team meeting is Thursday night.
By 6:30 the next morning, Van Hoeven was on the road. With minimal stoppage, it’s a 16-hour drive from his home in Monroe, Mich. to Arlington, Texas where he’ll find his first team to play for since 2021 when he finished up his second season as Eastern Michigan’s starting center.
After Van Hoeven’s college career finished up, he tried his shot at making the NFL through the draft and as an undrafted free agent, but to no avail. Instead, it landed him a job working out of a gym. He provided some assistance for high school athletes, but he was always working for his next chance, whenever that call may be. That chance he dreamt of as a kid didn’t come so glamorously for this small-town kid.
Instead, the Paw Paw, Michigan native who went to college with just one scholarship offer to a building program will leave to chase his dream again as a supplemental add-on for a born-again football league.
“It's tough and it can kind of weigh on you sometimes, but I know it's the same thing with (Mathew Sexton),” Van Hoeven told me during his drive down to Texas. “I went to a high school where nobody got a D1 scholarship offer, before me, for like 15 years since Jason Babin went to Western. So in high school, I had to do all these things, drive around to all these camps, go to all these showcases, send countless emails, everything like that to try to get something. I ended up getting that one offer from Eastern which is all it took. Same kind of thing with this.”
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