Sports Person of the Week
Jankura Took the Option to a Grand Total
Junior Jack Jankura rushed for 1,005 yards in his first year as starting quarterback for the Indians in their read-option offense. (Photo courtesy of Jack Jankura)
Jack Jankura took the reins of being the starting quarterback for Guilford football this fall and ran with the role in more ways than one.
The junior has come a long way on the gridiron after beginning as an offensive lineman on his 4th-grade team. After starting one game behind center as a sophomore, Jack broke through for a successful rookie season as Guilford's permanent signal caller this fall by rushing for 1,005 yards, which included an 85-yard dash for a touchdown versus rival Hand in the Indians' finale.
"Football has really made me the guy I am today and I attribute the yards to my offensive line and the entire team, really," says Jack. "We work hard together in practice and are brothers both on and off the field. The over 1,000 yards is a huge milestone for me, but there is always room to improve."
The read-option offense that Guilford runs has become a complex, but popular set across the gridiron landscape. Fortunately, Jankura had a leg up on the run-heavy formations entering high school.
"Our 7th-grade team went winless, but Coach [Tom] Unger sent down one of his assistant coaches to help us and we ran the option on that team," Jack says. "You see the read-option all the time in the NFL now, though it's still a difficult offense to run because it depends on the defensive looks, yet it helped me understand the actual game better. But I still love it, it works fantastic, and helps us as a team as we don't have big offensive lineman."
Coach Unger states that Jack was very green when he stepped onto the turf this season, yet says his QB shined with both physical and mental growth through the squad's 11 contests.
"Jack came into this past year very raw, but he grew with his confidence in terms of his passing ability and decision making as a quarterback," says Unger. "He is someone we look to as a future leader of this team. He is also a great and hard-working kid."
To Jack, the progress in all phases at his position has come from his year-round preparation in practice and the gym, along with the weight room.
"During the winter, Coach Unger has lifting programs and it's been huge for all of us because the squats and box jumps helped lifting and running," says Jack. "My field vision and decision making have been huge things that Coach Unger has helped me with. The read-option is not easy to read so I tried to just switch sides depending upon what the defense gave me."
Jack admits he was timid heading into his first start of 2014 at Wilton, although a long bomb to senior wide out Tony Pensa changed all that and set the tone for a helping of self-belief.
"My confidence growth has just come from lots of practice and time in the film room because we always saw a new defense each week," Jack says. "I've never been a passing quarterback primarily so, going into the Wilton game, I wasn't too confident in my passing. Yet I hit Tony with a 35-yard completion so that helped greatly."
The TD sprint against the Tigers was the culmination of all the knowledge Jack had grasped in his first year running the Guilford attack, something he hopes leads to greater strides come next season.
"On the run against Hand, we ran a sweep option to the left and it worked as it should have. The read went to one running back, the other back picked up the block, wide receivers blocked, and things just opened up," says Jack, who thanks all his coaches and teammates. "I definitely gained more experience going into next fall, plus having that first year now under my belt helps tremendously."