Xavier High School Athletes In The Pros
Jeff Bagwell ('86): Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2017, Houston Astros
Bagwell played soccer and baseball all four years at Xavier. In the 1985 season, Bagwell scored 36 goals, a school record, giving him 58 in his career, another school record. Bagwell went to the University of Hartford where he played baseball.
He could have played soccer in college, that’s for sure. But the difference in professional opportunities for a baseball player vs. a soccer player were so one-sided that he kept at baseball.
Quite the decision.
He was the 1991 National League Rookie of the Year. He was the 1994 NL Most Valuable Player. He hit 449 home runs, drove in 1,529 runs, and he had 2,314 hits and a .297 batting average in his Hall of Fame career.
Bagwell once told The Hartford Courant: "I felt [baseball] was my first love, and I had a better chance professionally to make it in baseball. And at Hartford, they had fall baseball. I couldn't play both sports. I had to pick one."
In the photo below, provided by the Astros, Bagwell is seen hitting his final home run.
Tim Boyle ('13): Quarterback for the Green Bay Packers
Boyle was signed by Green Bay as an undrafted free agent on May 4, 2018. After high school, nothing came easy for Boyle, but he worked his way onto an NFL roster.
He started 19 of 36 games played over four seasons at Eastern Kentucky (2017) and UConn (2013-15). He finished his college career with 3,371 yards and 12 TDs on 334-of-602 passing (55.4 pct.). In his first start for Eastern Kentucky he threw for more than 300 yards, the first player to do so.
Boyle was part of three state championship teams at Xavier in a great era under Coach Sean Marinan. As a senior, Boyle was the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Player of the Year. That season he threw 24 touchdown passes and ran for five.
When he was signed by the Packers he told the Middletown Press: “The biggest thing Xavier taught me is a sense of community, being able to rely on all my teammates and coaches, and it taught me how to win. … When we walked into games we knew we were going to win. There was not a shred of doubt.”
And now he is a part of one of the most famous franchises in all of sports. The Frozen Tundra. Curly Lambeau. Vince Lombardi. Bart Starr. Aaron Rodgers.
"I'm right where I want to be," Boyle said as he visited Xavier in early 2019.
He's learning under one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Rodgers. And Rodgers says he is learning well, telling the Hartford Courant last November, “He’s got really good study habits. He’s paying attention at meetings to what I say. He sits right next to me and we have a lot of conversations about football and about life. He’s a great young kid. It’s been fun getting to know him. He soaks everything up, eager to learn.”
Nick Greenwood (’06): Former pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals
Greenwood, drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 14th round of the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft from University of Rhode Island, spent much of his pro career in the minor leagues. He did have two stints with the Cardinals, in 2014 and 2015, and has two major league wins to his credit.
Greenwood told the New Haven Register when he made it to the major leagues with St. Louis: “Not everybody gets to realize their dream. I realized my dream.”
Phil Murphy (’75): Former NFL player with Los Angeles Rams
Murphy was Xavier’s first player to make it to the NFL. He went to South Carolina State and was drafted in the third round (82nd overall) of the 1980 NFL Draft by the Rams.
Murphy died Oct. 10 at the age of 61. Murphy was part of a great era of Xavier football under then-coach Larry McHugh. In his senior season the Falcons were 10-0 and ranked No. 1 in the state for the first time.
Murphy is in Xavier's Hall of Honors, as well as the Mid-Eastern Conference Hall of Fame for his excellent play at South Carolina State. Murphy was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year in 1979. He also was inducted into the Middletown Hall of Fame.
Matt Nyman ('95): Former goalie with Tampa Bay Mutiny of the MLS
Nyman had 11 shutouts and a 0.59 goals against average as a senior as Xavier finished 14-2 in the 1994 season. He was named to the Senior Bowl and was a U-20 National Team Pool selection.
He went on to play at Dartmouth, finishing his career as the all-time leader in shutouts with 17 and ranked third in goals against average with 1.05. In 1997 and 1998 he was named to the All-New England first team by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. He helped lead Dartmouth to the 1997 NCAA Tournament.
He was with Tampa Bay from 1999-2001 but never played in a game. In his final season he was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma, according to a United Press International story.
Ryan Preece ('09): NASCAR driver
In late September 2018 it was announced by JTG Daugherty Racing that Preece would drive the team’s No. 47 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2019.
Preece made his mark in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. He won the tour title in 2013 and finished second four times. He has 22 career wins on that circuit, many of them in Connecticut, including eight at Stafford Springs.
The 2020 season is Preece's second full season in the NASCAR Cup Series; he is driving the No. 37 Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing. In 2019, he had one top five and three top-10 finishes.
Preece has a website: ryanpreeceracing.com.
Will Tye ('10): Former Tight end for the New York Giants, New York Jets, New England Patriots
Tye (Florida State, Stony Brook) was signed by the Giants May 11, 2015. He caught 42 passes for 464 yards and three touchdowns in 2015 and had 48 receptions for 395 yards and one TD in 2016 for the Giants. He played three games in 2017 for the Jets, was signed and waived by the Patriots in 2018, eventually landing on the Eagles’ practice squad Nov. 14.
When Tye became the Giants starter in 2016 he told Newsday: "You still have to pinch yourself every once in a while."
That was on top of 2015 when he became the first player from Stony Brook to play in an NFL game.
Amari Spievey (‘06): Former safety for the Detroit Lions
Spievey was drafted in the third round, 66th overall, in 2010, by the Detroit Lions out of the University of Iowa. He played in 15 games in each of the 2010 and 2011 seasons and had five total interceptions. He played in five games in 2012 before he was placed on injured reserve. He was cut in 2013.
Spievey played football and basketball at Xavier, and during his senior year, the football team was undefeated. Also on the Xavier basketball team was his cousin Chauncey Hardy, who was killed in Romania during a bar fight at the age of 23 when he was playing overseas.