BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - Most collegiate athletes dream of playing professionally.
While those opportunities are often rare for the masses, two former Union
College Bulldogs have entered the pro ranks in the German Football League.
Kyle Callahan (Covington, Ky.) is the
starting quarterback for the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes, while Patrick O'Neal (Lula,
Ga.) is a starting linebacker for
the Berlin Adler.
"I'm very proud of both Kyle and Patrick," said Union head
coach Tommy Reid. "Both of them have
worked very hard during their time with us at Union
and deserve the opportunity to play professionally.
"I think both of them are very capable of doing well with
the teams they are playing for."
Callahan admitted to be taken aback by the chance to play
"At first, I was truly shocked when this opportunity
arrived," he said. "This is a dream come true and a real experience for me to
grow and mature as a person and as a ballplayer."
Both teams are off to a good start with O'Neal's Adler 2-0
and Callahan's Baltic Hurricanes 2-1. The Hurricanes' loss came to Adler in the
teams' season opener.
The German Football League, which has been in existence
since 1979, is the top professional league in Germany and has 11 teams divided
into two divisions - five in the GFL North and six in the GFL South. Last year,
to the championship game before losing to the Braunschweig Lions 20-14. Kiel has
never won the GFL championship; however, Berlin
has won five titles with the last coming in 2002.
O'Neal had not played a down in over a year before joining
Adler. The 6-foot-1 linebacker's senior season came in 2007 when he set a
then-program record for tackles in a season with 143. He finished his four-year
career as the Bulldogs' second all-time leading tackler with 390 total stops.
"It is just nice to finally see all that hard work pay off,"
O'Neal said of the opportunity to play for Berlin. "I am really excited to get the
season under way to see how the teams compare to the ones in the (United)
For Callahan, the decision to join Kiel was not an easy one. The 6-foot,
188-pounder had been a star wide receiver at Union, setting the single-season
(13) and career (23) touchdown receptions record while tying the single-game
(3) mark. Callahan finished his career as the program's third all-time leading
receiver with 125 receptions for a total of 1,789 yards.
wanted Callahan to be its starting quarterback.
Callahan had some experience under center, spending much of
the 2006 season as Union's signal-caller and
completed 67-of-173 passes for 1,029 yards and six touchdowns. For his career,
he threw for 1,588 yards and 11 touchdowns.
"I think that I have done some good things playing
quarterback," Callahan said. "The transition back to (quarterback) will take
some time, but it will work itself out in the end."
Thus far, Callahan has taken nicely to new position. In
three games, he has completed 67-of-99 passes for 636 yards and four touchdowns
with only two interceptions. In addition, he has rushed for 196 yards and four
more scores on 35 carries.
Callahan's best game to date came in a 39-36 win over Essen Assindia
Cardinals has he threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 145 yards
and two scores.
O'Neal is doing what he did while at Union
- lead the team in tackles. In both of the Adler's contest, he has been the
team's top tackler with seven against Kiel
and five in a 41-0 win over the Munich Cowboys.
"It is a great experience getting to play in Germany, especially in Berlin," O'Neal said. "It was hard to get
use to everything, but the players on the team really make you feel at home."
Callahan the rest of the Baltic Hurricanes have are off
until June 7 when Kiel
will face the Marburg Mercenaries. O'Neal and the Adler will play host to the
Dresden Monarchs on May 31.
Photos by Zelter Media Services