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NFL hires five more officials



Four new hires have collegiate referee experience

Football Zebras has learned the names of five more college officials hired by the NFL, and that there will be a total of eleven new officials in 2014.

Alex Kemp, Brad Allen, Scott Novak, Bryan Neale and Brad Freeman have been hired by the NFL according to various sources. Kemp comes to the NFL from the Big 10 conference, Allen from the Atlantic Coast Conference, and Novak from the Big 12 Conference.  In the 2013 season, all three worked at the referee position. Previously, we reported Shawn Hochuli was also hired, who was just recently a referee in the Pacific 12 Conference.

Alex Kemp worked the 2011 BCS National Championship Game as a side judge.  He has worked the past two falls as a Big 10 referee.  Alex is the son of the late Stan Kemp, an NFL official from 1986 – 91, mostly as a side judge. He worked one season as a referee, before being forced to retire due to health reasons.  Scott Novak worked the 2012 BCS National Championship Game as a referee.  Allen has worked in the ACC since 2005 and worked the 2012 Rose Bowl.

All three collegiate referees were part of the advanced training program during the 2013 NFL preseason – Allen as a back judge and Novak and Kemp as side judges.   Each of these referees come into the NFL as the league is on the cusp of having several veteran white hats have their individual retirement windows open, which will make the league have to consider several appointments to referee in the coming years.

Big 10 Conference umpire Bryan Neale has been hired by the NFL, most likely replacing retired umpire Scott Dawson.  Neale joined Kemp in officiating the 2011 BCS National Championship game and has several other bowl games to his credit.  Neale was wired up for sound by an Indianapolis television station this past season (video).  Neale was an advanced training program umpire this past NFL preseason.

Freeman is the son of current NFL back judge Steve Freeman.  Brad Freeman comes to the NFL as a Southeastern Conference back judge and also worked 2013 NFL preseason games, including one with his father.

All of these hires are conditional on passing a physical exam and a final background check. The league thoroughly vets its candidates, so there is not likely to be an issue here.

Congratulations to all the new officials and best wishes for a successful pro career.

Mark Schultz is a high school football official, freelance writer and journalist. He first became interested in officiating when he was six years old, was watching a NFL game with his father and asked the fateful question, "Dad, what are those guys in the striped shirts doing?"