I love the scouting part of football. Finding good football players whether it be high school kids in recruiting or whether it be college kids for the NFL Draft or free agency. Finding the best talent available and bringing them in and coaching them is the most exciting part outside of the regular game itself.
Talent can come from anywhere, sometimes it can come from as far away as Denmark.
If you are a Florida State fan, you may remember German Defensive End Bjoern Werner from the 2012 season. Werner had 13 sacks in 2012 and was a first round draft pick by the Indianapolis Colts in 2013. Werner is now an Outside Linebacker for the Colts and earning the big bucks.
Hjalte Froholdt is a very similar story to Bjoern Werner, only Froholdt is from Svendborg, Denmark.
Froholdt began playing American football by age 12. He wanted to come to America as an exchange student and figured football was the best way to meet people and make friends.
He was able to come to Warren, Ohio as an exchange student and he attended Warren G. Harding High School. That was a wise choice for him because that school and the school that merged with it in 1972, Reserve High School, has produced many college and NFL players such as Hall of Fame member Paul Warfield and Ross Browner of Notre Dame and Cincinnati Bengal fame. Other alumni include Mario Manningham of Michigan and New York Giants fame, Maurice Clarett, Daniel and David Herron, Chris Rucker and Korey Stringer. Everyone remembers Stringer from his death in 2001 from a Heat Stroke in the Minnesota Vikings training camp.
Stringer had been a first round draft pick out of Ohio State in 1995 and was only 27 years old.
Froholdt arrived in Warren, Ohio as a sophomore and thought he would be pushed and shoved around on the field and would probably play Junior Varsity football. By the 6th game of the year, Froholdt was starting at Tight End, Defensive End and was the team’s punter.
When he first set foot on the Harding High School campus, he was supposedly 6-4, 240. But, he was a growing lad and by the time the year was up, he was supposedly 6-5, 280. Colleges began to notice him and started contacting him.
According to sources, Froholdt fit right in with the rest of the guys in high school even though he spoke several languages and was thousands of miles from home.
Clearly, Froholdt had the size that colleges were looking for, plus he’s very athletic, flexible and strong and has yet to come close to his potential. Since he has not been playing all that long, he is a little on the raw side, but he is football smart and has the natural instincts needed to become a great college player and maybe beyond.
Froholdt is a traveling man and is mature well beyond his years and in ways that most American kids are not. Coaches everywhere he has played so far call him a team player, with great work ethic and willing to do whatever it takes to make his team better.
Like so many football players over the years, off the field he is kind of quiet and reserved, but when the pads are on he becomes a wild man.
Apparently, there are rules against foreign exchange students staying at the same school, or be in the same state more than 1 year. That rule forced Froholdt to return to his native Denmark for his junior year of high school.
While there, his family moved to a larger city so that he could play real American Football. It’s not the best quality of football in Europe, but he played for the Sollerod Gold Diggers of the Danish American Football Federation. The team was made up of mostly 19 to 25 year old men and he was the youngest on the team.
Schools such as Michigan, Ohio State, Florida State, Alabama and many others continued recruiting Hjalte Froholdt. But, in December of 2013, Froholdt decided to end the recruiting process by committing to the Arkansas Razorbacks and head coach Bret Bielema. This came as something of a surprise because the Razorbacks and Bielema in his first season as their head 9coach had just completed a disappointing 3-9 campaign.
At the time, Froholdt made some comments that proved he was an intelligent young man by predicting that Arkansas would win some more games in 2014 and the program was headed in the right direction. By the end of the 2014 season, Arkansas was playing pretty well. They lost to Alabama by 1 point and to then #1 ranked Mississippi State by 7. They beat LSU 17-0 and then Ole Miss by 30-0. If not for a loss to SEC East champion Missouri, the Razorbacks would have been the hottest team in the SEC West last season. Arkansas is definitely up and coming this season.
After his junior season back in Europe, Hjalte Froholdt was looking for another high school in the states where he could come as an exchange student and play football. He found IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
At IMG, he played for former Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke of Florida State.
During his senior season at IMG Academy, Froholdt had 55 tackles, 12 of those for loss and 7 sacks and 2 fumbles forced in 9 games.
Arkansas assistant coach Taver Johnson recruited Froholdt for the Razorbacks, but he left Fayetteville to take a job with the Purdue Boilermakers. Coaches come and go and recruits should be interested in a certain school and not follow a coach. In the age of recruits committing early and then changing their minds and committing to a different school and again and again, Froholdt held firm. Arkansas was where he wanted to go and he felt at home there and signed with the Pigs and enrolled in college in January of 2015. He is there currently working out with his new teammates and will be participating with the team in Spring Drills.
All of his coaches have said the same things about Hjalte Froholdt. He has a tremendous work ethic, and he is mature beyond his years. He has a naturally high football IQ, with some natural ability and he is a leader among his teammates. I would not be surprised at all to see Froholdt on the football field next season for the Arkansas Razorbacks.
His comparisons with Bjoern Werner will probably never cease because they are both European and they both play in the defensive line. If Hjalte Froholdt turns out to be the same kind of player as Bjoern Werner, Razorback fans and football fans in general will be excited.