Stockton and LaLota continue The Hun School's football lineage
The Hun School has produced more than 60 Division I-A or I-AA the last 10 years
Myron Rolle and Jeffrey Zuttah were the first Raiders Army All-Americans
Tyler Stockton and Anthony LaLota will play at Notre Dame and Michigan
PRINCETON, N.J. -- One day in January 2005, Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, a southerner making his way through five inches of snow, cut a new path along the recruiting trail.
Alerted to Myron Rolle, then a 6-foot-2, five-star junior rover, Bowden's interest was piqued by the son of Bahamian immigrants who held aspirations of practicing medicine. Eager to impress Rolle, Bowden tried to surprise him during his Advanced Placement Biology class. Before he could enter, though, a faculty member informed the charming septuagenarian that, like everyone else who visits the students, he would have to wait for activities period to woo Rolle. "That's the way it ought to be," Bowden says. "I admire them for doing that. Gosh, I don't get into many schools with campuses like that in Florida."
While Rolle committed to Florida State that summer, plenty of college coaches have continued to visit the leafy, 45-acre campus. Nestled in the woods less than a mile from Princeton University, the school, best known for its academics, has become a must-see trading post for football recruiters. Since current coach Dave Dudeck, a lieutenant in the Princeton Police Department and Hun class of '77, took the head coaching position 10 years ago, he has sent more than 60 players to Division I programs. The class of 2009, which boasts seven players that have either given verbal commitments or are still entertaining Div. I-A offers, compares favorably with its predecessors. "I remember the line of coaches coming for Myron," says Tyler Stockton, a fifth-year senior who has committed to Notre Dame. "I used to think, 'Wow, that could be me.'"
Stockton, a 6-1, 290-pound defensive tackle who used to carpool with Rolle from Atlantic County, N.J., has witnessed Hun's growth. When he arrived from his local public school five years ago, the field was a muddied mess by season's end and the weight room was small. Through fundraising and donations, the mud has been covered by FieldTurf and a field house has been built to house a new, fully-furbished weight room, locker rooms and team rooms. "What they've built here is pretty amazing," says Stockton.
Before Rolle, who also attended The Peddie School in nearby Hightstown for two years, entered the prep school system, he admits that he thought "it was all Abercrombie & Fitch kids or children of wealth," but his experience opened a new world. Comfortable in the country club setting, Stockton, a 10-handicap who's played on Hun's golf team for four years, has ties to the Bahamas as well. A member of the Linwood Country Club in his hometown since his youth, he has spent about a month each year on Paradise Island at the Atlantis Resort, where his father, Lyndon, is the senior vice president for corporate marketing.
"As a parent, you want the best for your child," says Lyndon. "The most important thing a parent can do for a child is to steer them to the best education. We had to go the boarding school route to do that and get eight students in a classroom. You pay for that one-on-one experience."
The pairing with top players has also improved Stockton's prospects. Joining him on the defensive line the last two seasons has been Anthony LaLota, a 6-6, 260-pound defensive end, who began playing football last season when he transferred to Hun from The Lawrenceville School, a rival just down the street. A well-rounded athlete, LaLota and Stockton stand as the top defensive line tandem in the Mid-Atlantic Prep League, which the Raiders won last season. "I knew that guys before like Myron Rolle had success working here so it seemed to fit me, too," LaLota says.
LaLota's recruitment is a lesson in networking. Last January, his father, John, a senior vice president at a New Jersey-based pharmaceuticals company, was introduced to Terry Bowden, the former Auburn coach and television analyst, before Bowden was to give a motivational speech on leadership. Anxious to know what the coach thought of his son's abilities, John asked Bowden to take a look at a three-and-a half minute highlight reel. Bowden said the son reminded him of Chris Long. In short order, calls and mailings from college coaches flooded the LaLota house. A few months later, both Stockton and LaLota attended Notre Dame's spring game as prospective recruits. While Stockton committed to the Irish before the game, LaLota, who was surprised to hear fans chanting his name, chose a different route, eventually deciding on Michigan. "Both schools are familiar to what we have here," LaLota says. "
On Friday, LaLota and Stockton will be named as participants in January's U.S. Army All-American game. They will join former Michigan recruit Jeffrey Zuttah, now an investment banker at Morgan Stanley, and Rolle, currently a Rhodes Scholarship nominee, as the third and fourth Hun players to play in the game in the last six years. Says Stockton, who will enroll at Notre Dame for the second semester just as Rolle did at Florida State: "We know there's a line of players that we're coming after."