PRO Talk: San Francisco 49ers

April 7, 2022

On March 10, 2022, the Center for Data Science Analytics (CDSA) hosted their second PRO Talk featuring Brian Hampton, Vice President of Football Administration, and Demitrius Washington, Manager of Football Research and Development from the San Francisco 49ers. 

Students and faculty learned how the San Francisco 49er’s use data within their organization and got to meet surprise guest, Maurice “Mo” Hurst, the 49er’s newly signed Defensive Tackle. Hurst gave some insight on how he and other players on his team use data to improve their performance on the field. 

Video call screenshot of Maurice
Video call screenshot of Maurice “Mo” Hurst, newly signed Defensive Tackle for the San Francisco 49er’s.
Video call screenshots of Brian Hampton and Demitrius Washington
Video call screenshot of Brian Hampton, VP of Football Administration and Demitrius Washington, Manager of Football Research and Development for the San Francisco 49ers.

The conversation then turned to how Hampton and Washington leverage player data and develop the skills that one needs to be a data science professional in the sports industry. Hampton stated, “It does not matter how well you are as a data scientist, what matters is how well you can present that information to someone.” This is a key reason why Houghton data science majors complete courses in graphic design, web communication, digital imaging, and/or data visualization. 

Washington stated, “Sharpen your skills as much as possible, network, and to reach out.”  Hampton added, “Networking is the key word of all of that. A lot of people in this industry get the job from some form of reference.”   Current data science student, Isaac Cassulis ’22, spoke about the way this PRO Talk experience provided him the opportunity to network, explaining, “I certainly would not have had these opportunities without coming to Houghton. Being able to talk to professionals in data science is helpful, not with my education, but in helping me see how my education is being used by others, which in turn helps me focus my studies”.  

This PRO Talk was sponsored by the Center for Data Science Analytics (CDSA) at Houghton University. The CDSA provides hands-on opportunities for students in data science, including another PRO Talk with the New Orleans Saints in the fall.  The CDSA has also run other events, like the NASCAR experience, which allowed data science students to attend the “ALLY 400” NASCAR Cup Series Race to collect data to try to improve the fan experience at this event. Learn more about future PRO Talk speakers by subscribing to our monthly newsletter at cdsa@houghton.edu.