Doyle hopes to leave a huge impact on Pats' programOctober 17, 2019
By JONATHAN SAXON
LINCOLN CITY — Mark Doyle, while seemingly soft-spoken by nature, has always stood out from the other kids around him. He was always the biggest body amongst his peers, which meant he had to learn to take special care so he didn’t hurt anybody while playing with others.
“I usually towered over most kids,” said the senior offensive and defensive lineman, who stands 6’4” and tips the scales at 305 pounds. “I was heavier, so I had to be careful around other kids and learn to adapt to my size in other sports.”
But one place he doesn't have to be quite as careful is the football field, where he has learned to harness his size and strength to become an anchor for Heritage Hills at the guard and defensive tackle spots. Doyle was excited to hit the field and carry on the tradition started by his two older brothers when he came out for the football team as a freshman. He switched over from the tight end spot he played when he was in middle school, but “I knew it was time for me to switch to the O-line. I knew I had the size and the weight. I just knew I had to accept that role, and I’ve loved it ever since living life in the trenches.”
“Watching him come up, we knew he was going to be a lineman for us,” Patriots coach Todd Wilkerson said. “He got to play a little bit as a sophomore, and we knew he was going to be good when he got older and stronger. He’s worked hard at getting stronger, getting better footwork, going to camps and competing against good talent. We had high expectations for him, but he’s met and exceeded those expectations.”
Of course, having the physical tools to bang along the line of scrimmage has a lot to do with the job. But it takes more than just being big and strong to be successful lineman at any level. Wilkerson says playing on the offensive line is one of the most mentally taxing positions on the football field, and Doyle has become adept at not only knowing his assignment based on the situation, but also helping out his teammates so they can work together in executing their responsibilities on a given play.
“They’re constantly having to understand what the play is, how to check if they get a different look, and Mark’s been one of our solid guys that helps everybody talk about what we’re trying to do,” Wilkerson said. “And, obviously, being a big, strong kid, he's always great to run behind.”
“I understand other people’s defenses, I can communicate with my coaches and teammates what’s going on, and adjust to other people’s lineups,” Doyle added. “I communicate to my teammates what they need to do on their own assignments.”
But as fulfilling as it can be for Doyle to use his smarts to outwit the opposition, nothing quite compares to getting off the line or turning that corner on a defender, which results in one of the highest honors a lineman can achieve on the field: the infamous pancake block.
“It’s a great adrenaline rush just imposing your will on another opponent, and just letting him know you’re going to keep doing it over and over again all night.” he said.
But as much fun as he’s having throwing his weight around for Heritage Hills, Doyle has a chance to move on further and take his talents into the college arena. He’s fielded preferred walk-on offers — meaning the coach can’t offer Doyle a scholarship, but still wants him on his team — from Louisville and Eastern Kentucky, as well as a scholarship offer from Kentucky Wesleyan. Doyle is grateful to receive the attention, and believes his work ethic is now paying impressive dividends.
“It’s been exciting being in the recruiting process, just getting recognized for my talents,” he said. “Just realizing that all that work in the offseason, playing as hard as I can and going to all these summer camps is finally paying off.”
Wilkerson thinks a good run in sectional will boost Doyle that much higher on college’s radars in the near future, and thinks that, should that happen, Doyle has a chance to distinguish himself among the football standouts Heritage Hills has produced in its program.
“We’ve had some great athletes come out of Heritage Hills. People talk about Ken Dilger and Jay Cutler, John Goldsberry and some of these guys,” Wilkerson said. “It would be great to have a great lineman come out of Heritage Hills. Linemen are so important to our game, and it’s harder and harder to get kids to play on the line. Having a kid like him come through here and maybe go on to play college football may motivate some of our younger kids to want to be a great lineman.”
What does Doyle think of those expectations? Just toss ‘em onto his broad shoulders, like everything else he carries.
“It’s a challenge I’m excited to meet,” he said. “I just want to be the best lineman I can possibly be. I want to keep helping out my teammates. I want kids that are bigger like me to try to keep working hard and just look at me as a role model.
"I just want to keep getting better every day, and fall in love with the position that I do.”
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