Michael Doyle lost his mother, Marie Doyle to lung cancer when he was in eighth grade. It was her dream to one day see him play college football. She was 53.
Michael Doyle had moved from New York to New Port Richey, Florida around the time of his mom’s passing and was considering walking away from football. He is now a senior defensive tackle at J.W. Mitchell High School.
“… Going into freshman year, I was kind of considering not playing then right after talking with my family, they said my mom’s dream was always to see me play college football. Even though she’s not here to see it now, I could still do it for her,” he said.
Doyle said that she was always afraid that he would get hurt so she only came to see him play two games. When he was five years old and when the cancer diagnosis was handed down. She came to his last game in eighth grade.
Michael Doyle is now six-foot-one and 270 pounds. He was always a big kid. He played lacrosse at an early age before football but once he started playing the latter sport, he had to get his weight down and that’s where his father came in.
“…When I was younger, I was always too heavy to play because there were weight limits so my dad would take me out running the night before games, every night before games. I would run until I was down to the weight I had to be [at].”
The New Port Richey area has grown on Michael Doyle and he said it has also helped him grow with football because of the gym like atmosphere the city has. Everyone there, he said, is focused on fitness. Beyond that, he shares moments with young kids after games that he spoke about.
“The community I live in is very supportive of the football team and I see little kids that are on the youth team that recognize me from games so that’s pretty cool. It’s kind of like being in college already.”
Michael Doyle is not ranked on any of the major recruiting services (247sports, Scout, Rivals) but he does have one scholarship offer from the University of St. Francis. Here is what he had to say about his recruiting process thus far.
“I get a lot of emails from schools from all divisions, even some from Canada. I still have only one offer from St. Francis of Illinois in the NAIA but a lot of schools I talk to are Division II and [a bigger] Division III school like Mount Union. It’s been picking up with Division I teams like Akron, Presbyterian College, Marist, and Fordham. It’s a lot of I-AA or smaller FCS teams but nothing major [yet].”
He has high interest in Akron University, Fordham University and Northwest Missouri State and Long Island University Post which are Division II schools. He plans to make his commitment decision sometime before National Signing Day (February 1, 2017) but definitely after his senior year.
One thing you’ll notice immediately when watching film on Michael Doyle is, for a guy his size, he is extremely quick coming off of the line of scrimmage and can wrap the ball carrier up with no problem. His main job is stopping the run and it is something he does very well.
He had a team-leading 14 tackles for loss as a junior. Add to that: 56 total tackles (39 solo), two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and two sacks.
“I think what you said kind of hits it on the head…I can get into the backfield and if I don’t get to the guy, the way I look at it, if I’m not going to make the tackle, at least put in the effort to [get] near where it is because if he gets tackled down the field, I need to be there anyway so I might as well just follow just in case there’s a cut back and I can make the play,” Doyle said about what are the best parts of his game.
He said that he needs to work on his pass rushing because he doesn’t get his hands on the offensive lineman in front of him first. That’s what he’s been working on this offseason.
J.W. Mitchell’s head football coach Andrew Schmitz is most impressed with the way he takes care of his body.
“His biggest improvement I guess is how well he takes care of himself and how good of shape he’s in. When he first came into our program, he was a good player but didn’t really work as hard in the offseason to get himself into great shape so he was more of a spot player,” Schmitz said. “Now he has worked himself into a guy that plays every snap on defense and if we need him on offense, he can go in and do that. In the last season, he was even in certain packages, going in and playing tight end for us, after playing every snap on defense.”
He added that Doyle is a lot more athletic than people think he is. People look at his legs and assume he’s not explosive.
“He’s as quick off the ball as anybody we’ve had at our place in a while,” Schmitz said.
Doyle said his only concern is getting the offense back on the field. He doesn’t care if he’s the one getting the stats or not.
“… If I can do something, push the running back into the arms of the weak side defensive end or nose tackle. I’m fine with that as long as the job gets done and the offense gets back and we can score.”
The JW Mitchell Mustangs went 9-2 (4-0 District) in 2015. According to Doyle, the team’s goal was to win a district championship and get to the playoffs. They lost in the first round of the FHSAA Class 6A state playoffs to Gainesville High School 42-21. Now, their goals are to win a second straight district championship and win their first playoff game.
“Honestly, I will just kind of remember being the surprise kid his junior year. I’ll remember him for being the kid that we weren’t sure that we can rely on that all of a sudden was one of the best defensive players in our program the very next year. I take that to credit how hard he worked and an example that I can always use for other kids. That you can go from being an average player one year to a great player the next year if you work hard enough,” Schmitz said.