Cornell University's football team was 2-8 last year. In its wins, the Big Red scored at least 20 points; in losses, Cornell gave up at least 20 points.
Help, however, is on the way.
Sun Valley star cornerback Aaron Hancock is up to the challenge on the field and in the classroom. Hancock was an all-conference and all-county pick on the field, but his work in the classroom made him a four time all-academic selection and had the interest of schools like Cornell, Davidson, Harvard and Appalachian State.
"Aaron has been a really big part of our football program for the last four years," said Scott Stein, the Spartans' head coach and athletic director. "We try to emphasize being an excellent kid, and he really exemplifies that."
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Hancock recorded 43 tackles as a senior, with three sacks and 15 passes defended. He also recorded two fumble recoveries.
He first got called up to varsity after his freshman year, where he didn't play in the playoffs but was a part of the team. As a sophomore, he again started on junior varsity but quickly was pulled up and started three games that year.
"I have gotten a lot better at being physical," said Hancock. "I came in as a smaller guy, and at first I was all right with a foot tackle on a guy and kind of shied away from contact.
"Now I really like to hit people, and it helps me that I developed the timing and the footwork part. My awareness is better, but if I have the chance I am going to hit and hit hard."
Hancock, at 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, says that in the eighth grade he knew he wanted to play football in college but thought he was too small. He knew academics could help him and decided then he would play at Harvard. Cornell showed interest in him first.
Hancock is one of three people in the United States to be accepted to the Cornell business school, according to Stein. He has a 4.5 GPAgrade point average and is two-time president of Sun Valley's National Honor Society.
The Spartans named him two-time student athlete of the year. "FOX Charlotte" named Hancock the Student Athlete of the Week in January, and he was a finalist for the Bojangles Student Athlete of the Year. Hancock was a big part of the Spartans only conference championship team in 2009 and has worked hard to change the culture of the team.
For now, Hancock is set on going to business school and trying to earn a spot in the Cornell secondary. After that, he says he hopes he might continue his football career. Law school is in his plans, too.
No matter what happens on the field, Hancock is ready to handle the academic side of the Ivy League.
"My academics mean more to me than my football accomplishments," Hancock said. "I love when people come up to me and say they saw me play and didn't know I was even on the football team."
Andrew Stark writes about prep and recreational sports in south Charlotte, Union and York counties. Send story ideas to him by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.