Ethan Pocic is a bit of a practical joker, and his father has found himself as the target on several occasions.
Pocic already holds offers from Arizona, Illinois, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Purdue, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
A former basketball player at Aurora University, Gary Pocic recently laid down for bed after a long day including work at the Fire Department, only to look up and see on his ceiling a picture of a woman basketball player his son placed there. The message for the former hoopster who was offered a walk-on opportunity at DePaul, you now play like a girl.
“My brother told me to do that one,” Ethan said.
Gary’s favorite was during an afternoon in the pool, he had a pair of shorts off to the side that Ethan stuck chicken bones in. Long story short, a small dog took interest in the shorts and before Gary knew it and could do anything about it, they were ripped to shreds.
“Just screwball stuff,” Gary laughed. “He’ll hide stuff on you, crazy stuff like that. He just likes to goof around and have fun. He doesn’t do anything with any menace. He just likes to have fun when it’s the proper time.”
The jokes have ceased in the last month.
Football season is here, and the 6-foot-7, 280-pound Pocic is one of the nation’s top offensive tackles in the class of 2013. The people closest to the Lemont (Ill.) High standout say he’s a different person once his mind is on the gridiron.
“He’s into it,” Gary stated. “He gets his homework done and maybe watches a tiny amount of TV and falls asleep. Once August comes around, he really backs down.”
“I’ve had teammates say that to me before,” Ethan said. He already holds scholarship offers from Arizona, Illinois, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Purdue, West Virginia and Wisconsin. “I respect the game. When it’s time to train, it’s not time to joke around. Everything is serious.”
Advanced for his age
Pocic could very well be starting his sophomore year this fall instead of the 11th grade. He just turned 16 last week and barely made the kindergarten enrollment deadline for the class of 2013. His parents could have kept him home for another year, but decided their son was ready school.
It’s obvious they were right about that. On top of Pocic’s athletic ability, he’s holding his own in the classroom with a GPA hovering around 3.0.
However, Gary likes to sometimes imagine for one second if Ethan was just becoming a sophomore. He brings up what it could be like if Ethan was at the top of his age bracket, instead of eventually being one of the last to drive and be able to legally attend Rated-R movies among his friends.
“He was a couple weeks shy of us having to hold him back,” Gary said. “It’d be like my God. He’s big now. He’d be a menace.”
When he’s not pulling practical jokes, Ethan is a quiet person. He brightened up for one second about that particular thought.
“It’d be pretty fun,” he deadpanned.
But Pocic’s always had fun. Going back to his travel football days with the Lemont Hornets, he has always excelled against older kids. Beyond his outstanding offensive tackle frame and good feet, his youth is one of the things college coaches get the most excited about regarding Pocic.
“The thing about him, he wants to get better, he wants to compete,” Core 6 Founder/CEO Paul Szczesny said. Pocic trains at Szczesny’s Chicago area facility. “He’s still young and there’s so much room for growth. He’s always there to compete. He goes 100 percent all the time. The thing coaches look for is a guy with a high motor. The fact he’s 16 and still so young and has so much room to grow, that’s the part that’s amazed me, and I’m excited to see his growth.”
Recruiting takes shape
Ethan’s older brother Graham (remember the photo of the woman basketball player) is a junior offensive lineman at Illinois, so the Pocic family has been around the block with this recruiting thing.
Pocic plans to take his time with the recruiting process and got a chance to see several campuses this summer.
“I liked the schools I went out to,” Pocic said. “I liked Notre Dame, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue was cool. I thought they were all good campuses. They each had different things about them. Like at Wisconsin you can go fishing. Michigan State was a great place. Illinois, being down there a lot I know stuff to do. Notre Dame, they have their church that was unbelievable. Just walking through everything, it was a nice campus. Purdue the dorms are nice and their campus looked new.”
Pocic has a few games in mind that he’d like to attend this fall. He’s targeting the Wisconsin-Nebraska game in Madison on Oct. 1. He’d like to be at the Michigan-Michigan State game in East Lansing on Oct. 15. He will return to Notre Dame for the USC game on Oct. 22. Pocic will also go watch his brother a few times.
Pocic has no timetable for a college decision and is excited to see what other programs show interest as the process continues. He’s talked things over with his family and he knows what he’s looking for in a school.
“If I fit in with the coaches and players,” Pocic said. “Not like the distance, but the location and if I can live there for four or five years. If it’s a winning program, and if I fit in with the coaches and players.”
A former player at Indiana, Szczesny has worked with many of the Chicago area’s top athletes over the last few years including Wisconsin 2011 commit James Adeyanju and Badgers 2012 pledge Dan Voltz. Other athletes that have been by the Core 6 facility or one of its events include Michigan cornerback commit Anthony Standifer, Illinois receiver commit Jason Robertson, Minnesota linebacker pledge Jack Lynn and Top247 offensive tackle Jordan Diamond.
“Ever since I met that kid, and (former Iowa offensive lineman) Mike Jones has had a chance to work with him, we probably felt he’s the best guy to walk through our doors,” Szczesny said. “We’ve had a lot of top guys already, and I’ve never seen a kid have the potential he does. It’s crazy and you know he’s going to get the right guidance at home. He’s not going to get complacent.”
Pocic has already proven that in the weight room. In the last year, he says his bench press max has gone from 220 pounds to 305. He added that he can clean 275 pounds and squat 420 pounds.
“I take lifting weights as serious as football,” Pocic said.
Now that’s no joke.