Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Myles Jack wants right fit in future home
By Mason Kelley
BELLEVUE, Wash. -- There is a large foyer in recently remodeled Bellevue (Wash.) High School. Large windows on one side of the room frame a courtyard that leads to a set of stairs. On Friday nights, the Bellevue football team’s cleats click on each step as they head toward the field.
Myles Jack sits on the other side of those windows. On the far side of the room there is a large piece of butcher paper taped to the wall. It features Washington’s Class 3A state playoff bracket. Someone has already scribbled “Bellevue” in the spot reserved for the state champion.
In two weeks, that anonymous prediction could come true. If the Wolverines are going to win their fifth straight state title, they will rely on their 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker.
The UCLA commit’s back is to the windows, but Jack, who has headphones wrapped around his neck, turns and points toward the stadium.
“This is home,” Jack says. “This is all I know. That field down there, that stadium, that’s home.”
That field is where Jack would set up a speaker, so his teammates could listen to music during their offseason workouts. That field is where he learned the value of conditioning for a two-way high school player. That field is where Jack became one of the state’s top recruits, a prospect who continues to be hounded by college coaches despite his commitment.
“That’s pretty much all I know,” Jack says. “I spend more time here than I do at home.”
In a few months, Jack will sign his name on a letter of intent. At that moment, he will have settled on a new home. Until that time comes, he expects college coaches to keep calling.
“It’s a decision, so to know you still have options even after you committed just in case something happens, you still have other options to fall back on,” Jack says. “It’s just good to have a fallback plan, a Plan B, Plan C with other schools still contacting me.”
In the next few months, Myles Jack is going to have to make a big decision: stick with UCLA or flip to the hometown Huskies?
During the week, Jack goes to school and attends football practice. When he gets home, he has missed calls, voicemails, texts and Facebook messages to wade through. The senior said he hasn’t set up a Twitter account, because that’s just one more form of communication to follow.
If that’s not enough, there are two tables in his house covered with letters. There are so many, they have spilled over the edge and onto the floor.
When he committed to the Bruins back in June, he thought the process would slow down. He didn’t expect it to pick up.
“It’s just been hectic,” Jack says. “It’s a good problem to have.”
Washington, Utah, Oregon, Arizona State and Mississippi State -- a recent addition to Jack’s suitors -- are all in consistent contact with standout.
“It’s kind of UCLA, and then I’m going to compare everybody, especially after the season, which is really where I get a chance to hang out with the coaches, the players and see what the lifestyle is like, see what really fits me,” says Jack, who is considering a Dec. 7 visit to Washington but isn’t sure if it will fit into his schedule.
While he weighs his options -- Utah, Mississippi State and UCLA are all going to get official visits -- he continues to work toward a state title and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
“That was a childhood dream,” Jack says, when asked about being invited to play in the annual all-star event.
Jack credits much of his success -- his awards and accolades -- to the Bellevue coaching staff. They helped get him through a tumultuous time during his junior season.
After Jack showed signs of a bright future as a sophomore, his mother, LaSonjia, had to move to Georgia for work. Jack spent his childhood in Dacula, Ga., so it was a homecoming of sorts. But, instead of returning to his hometown, the family moved to Suwanee, Ga., where Jack enrolled at Peachtree Ridge High School in March 2011.
He spent the summer in Georgia. He even started the football season with the Lions. But he knew his high school home was in Bellevue. LaSonjia moved her son back so he could finish his high school career with the Wolverines.
“It was a really hard decision, but it was really a decision based on Myles saying that he wanted to be at the best place, and it was Bellevue,” LaSonjia says.
Five games into his junior season, Jack was back. But there was another adjustment period. He was an important part of the Wolverines’ success, but he knew he had more to contribute.
Then came the hype. Jack’s combination of size, speed and athleticism caused him to be coveted by college coaches. When he committed to UCLA, he was determined to prove he was a Pac-12 prospect.
“I was just dedicated, because I wanted to prove -- not only to myself, but to the coaches -- that all this hype was meant to be,” he says. “My junior year was a good season, but it wasn’t the season that I wanted.”
It took just one game to show exactly how successful Jack’s senior season would be. In the fourth quarter of a close game against Euless (Texas) Trinity in Week 1, Jack delivered a blow to the quarterback people are still talking about.
The moment was a bit of a blur for Jack, but it erased any doubt college coaches had in his ability.
“I didn’t even realize I hit him that hard, because when I came off I was just trying to jar the ball loose,” Jack says. “When I got up I just heard the crowd, our coaches were going crazy.”
In a few weeks, Jack’s high school career will come to a close. At that point, his attention will shift back to the recruiting process. In the meantime, his mother is making sure to compile any information he might need before he signs in February.
“It is his decision,” LaSonjia says. “He’s going to play ball. I make sure he’s most informed. My job is to make sure he has all the information. At the end of the day, I’m going to turn it over to him. I’m going to let him make his choice.”
After looking out the window and down to the field, Jack turns around. He slips off his backpack. A few students walk through the foyer, including his teammate, quarterback Jack Meggs.
For a few more months, this room, in this school, which is filled with his friends, will be home. But, sooner or later, he will have to make his final choice. Will he decide to make his current home permanent at Washington? Will he head south to play in the SEC at Mississippi State? Or will he keep with his original gut feeling and travel to California to play at UCLA?
It is Jack’s decision to make. He plans to take all the time he needs within the remaining window before signing day. Until he reaches that point, he knows the calls, texts and voicemails will continue. He knows he is still a few months away from being able to clear all the letters off the floor and the two tables in his house.