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Sullivan a vocal force on formidable offensive line
Typically, an offensive lineman doesn’t hold the most glamorous position on the attacking side of the ball. He doesn’t do the scoring—but he just happens to be the most crucial element in allowing those opportunities to manifest. Number 60, though, was the rare exception to that rule last September.
During the Hoyas’ home opener, a 40-16 blowout over Davidson, the offense fumbled in the end zone, only to have number 60 emerge victorious with the football moments later.
Touchdown, Kevin Sullivan.
Since then, a few major factors have changed for the Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) product. For one, he transitioned to center over the offseason after starting all eleven games at right tackle in the Hoyas’ renaissance 8-3 season. It’s a move that he, Head Coach Kevin Kelly, and senior quarterback Isaiah Kempf say was seamless.
“It’s been great,” Sullivan said of the switch. “I got a lot of reps during spring ball and training camp, so now I feel really comfortable going into the season.”
The other change is more aesthetic than anything else, as Sullivan was awarded the Joe Eacobacci No. 35 Memorial Jersey. The honor has gone to the Hoyas’ hardest worker and a leader in the locker room, both roles the senior has embraced this offseason. As an offensive lineman, Sullivan has to wear 35 as a patch on his jersey as opposed to simply changing his number.
“Sully is a vocal guy and as a center, he calls out all the fronts,” Kempf said. “That’s been a big help for me, just kind of seeing blitzes and seeing things like that. He’s kind of played everywhere on the offensive line and just kind of knows what to do.”
The award is named in honor of Joe Eacobacci, a former Hoya who passed away on Sept. 11. Since that time, some of the greatest Hoyas to come through the program—Alex Buzbee and Nick Parrish among them—have won the award. Buzbee was the first Hoya in over 50 years to make an active NFL roster, while Parrish left Georgetown as the program’s all-time leading tackler. But Kelly believes Sullivan’s mentality made him the ideal choice for such a prestigious honor.
“Kevin is just like Joe Eacobacci was, he’s a team player, he works extremely hard, and is just a great person,” Kelly beamed. “He’s really the leader of that [offensive line] group this year.”
This class of seniors, in particular, has faced a great deal of adversity over their years at Georgetown. Their freshman season marked the lowest of lows, of course, with an excruciating 0-11 record. Since that time, Kelly’s program has transformed to a Patriot League contender that believes it can win every game on the schedule. According to the squad, it’s a reflection of a change in their mindset—not to settle and to “finish the job.” Sullivan, as a vocal leader, has been at the forefront of that movement.
Still, Sullivan is just one cog in one of the most stable offensive lines in the Patriot League, one that led a potent Hoya offense that averaged 27 points per game last season. They reload this season with Sullivan, fellow senior Don Rhodes, and sophomore Patriot League All-League selection Mike Roland.
“We’re a really close-knit group and we have a ton of experience back this year,” Sullivan noted. “Everyone can settle into his role this year, and it’s helped us prepare for the season easier.”
As it was, the Hoyas were returning the vast majority of their offense—from Kempf down to redshirt senior Chance Logan, the traditional “skill” players just needed an offensive line to make holes and give Kempf time in the pocket. Kelly certainly thinks they’re capable of performing that task, taking it a step farther with his assessment of the line.
“Since I’ve been here, this is by far our best offensive line,” he declared. “Experience, talent, size, the whole thing—I’m really anxious to see how they do on Saturday to be quite honest with you.”
The Hoyas will find out just how much that continuity matters this weekend when they open the season at Davidson. For number 60—and now number 35—it can’t get much better individually than a touchdown. But with a Patriot League title on the line, all of those individual accomplishments just don’t seem to matter all that much.