Incoming Stanford freshman linebacker Joe Hemschoot, left, poses with his mom, Tess, on June 18 in their Lakewood home. Hemschoot was rated among the top high school senior football prospects in Colorado. (Photo by Joe Nguyen/AsiaXpress.com)
Lakewood LB Joe Hemschoot prepares for Stanford
17-year-old Filipino American finds success both on the field and in the classroom
LAKEWOOD – While many are fortunate to possess either brains or brawn, Joe Hemschoot is blessed with both attributes.
The half-Filipino American graduated from Lakewood High School last month with a 3.8 grade-point average. And, at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, he started at both quarterback and outside linebacker during his senior year and was selected to the 5A all-state football team by The Denver Post.
His performance on defense earned him a three-star recruit status and he was listed as the No. 3 prospect in Colorado on Scout.com and No. 10 on Rivals.com.
Not bad for a kid who just turned 17 – he also skipped the first grade – in April.
Hemschoot committed to coach Jim Harbaugh and Stanford University in January, choosing the California school over the universities of Colorado and Oregon. The move to being just a linebacker seems to be a natural transition as he's a quick-moving athlete with an innate ability to deliver devastating hits on the field. That, and he'd "rather not get hit," he laughed.
"On my visit (to Stanford), I just got the feeling it's the right fit," he said. "Everything about it – everyone talks about the beautiful campus and the academics – but for me it was a lot deeper than that. I just feel like I have a connection already with all the guys."
Playing Division I football wasn't something that had crossed his mind a year ago, he said. Colleges didn't seem to be interested in him, even during his senior year. The only offer he received was from the Colorado School of Mines, who competed in Division II.
"I didn't want to give up hope, but I couldn't get a sniff from CU or (Colorado State University)," he said. "Not even thinking about out of state."
But when Lakewood linebackers coach John Bacon – Hemschoot's mentor and a former University of Oregon and Lakewood High linebacker – put together a video showcasing his highlights, schools began calling. His parents, Paul and Tess, have binders and photos from visits to the different universities trying to win him over.
"(Bacon) is a huge part of me being in the position I am right now. I owe it to him. He really taught me a lot on and off the field," he said.
Hemschoot said he plans on pursuing a degree in the health sciences field, but admits he wants to make it to the next level in football.
"My mom's Asian – I know I've been told repeatedly to stay focused in school," he said, "but the NFL is definitely my goal."
Growing up, Hemschoot kept busy playing different sports year-round, being involved with the Filipino-American Community of Colorado and playing the violin. Finding a natural talent in music, his parents encouraged him to take that route.
"It was really music," he said. "Of course school was No. 1, but when I was little I guess I was pretty talented at the violin. And they really wanted me to pursue that a lot more."
When Hemschoot entered high school, however, he shifted his focus from the four-stringed instrument to the pigskin. He said his parents supported his decision and jumped on the "football wagon."
"It's his passion," Tess said. " ... He has so much passion for football."
With the college football season being less than three months away, he said he's looking forward to testing his skills at the next level.
"I'm not some big ego guy, but I think I can compete at that (collegiate) level," Hemschoot said. "I think it's going to be a lot of fun just to see how I grow as a player and a person."