First Look: Jonathan Soto

<p>Kansas fans, meet Jonathan Soto.  He's a good friend of both a current Jayhawk and a future Jayhawk, and he's a name you just might need to know.</p>

The 6-3, 265-pound defensive tackle is teammates with Kansas commit Jose Rodriguez and used to play with Jose’s older brother Cesar, who currently is a redshirt freshman offensive lineman at KU.

The three La Puente, CA kids will be reunited next month when Jose and Jonathan Soto take an official visit to KU’s campus to see everything Kansas has to offer – and to catch up with Cesar as well.

While Jose committed to KU late last spring, the Jayhawks still have a ways to go with Soto if they want to land both Bishop Amat High School studs.  Soto is currently considering nine schools – although so far, only two have offered.

Kansas, Wyoming, UCLA, Utah, Washington, USC, San Diego State, Duke and Oregon are all on Soto’s radar screen, but his only two offers have come from Lawrence, KS and Laramie, Wyoming.

Despite the offer from the Cowboys, Soto currently lists the UCLA Bruins and Kansas Jayhawks as his leaders.

“Kansas and UCLA are my leaders right now,” Soto said.  “I have friends that are going there and so I feel welcome at both places.”

Earlier this fall Soto visited UCLA and walked away feeling great about the Bruins.

“I went to their homecoming game,” said Soto.  “It was great.  I felt really welcomed because I have two friends on the team from my school.  That really helps.”

And it should help Kansas too with both of the Rodriguez brothers already on board in Lawrence.

“Them being there would be a big factor in my decision,” Soto admitted.  “I want to feel welcome and just knowing that there are people there that I already know and talk to would be a big factor.”

Their friendship might ease the transition of potentially moving halfway across the country to play college football.

“I’m kind of looking to stay close to home.  But I have no problem with going somewhere like Kansas.”

Yet plenty of west coast schools remain on his list including #1 USC, a program that isn’t expected to offer Soto, but still intrigues him a great deal.

“Last Saturday I attended a USC game,” Soto shared. “USC sent me a lot of letters last year.  They’d always come late though.  I’d always get a game invitation about two months after the game.  I’m not sure why that happened, but eventually, I fell out of contact with them.  Then earlier this fall I tried to rekindle things and then they had me over for a game.  That’s a school I’d really like to go to.”

While Soto doesn’t know how interested USC is, he’s keeping his options open for the Trojans and several other schools that have yet to offer.

“Kansas and Wyoming are my only offers so far.  Everyone else is just asking for more film right now,” Soto explained.

So, Soto will continue to look forward to visiting the ‘Hawks in December, but in the meantime he also plans to take in a San Diego State game this weekend and visit both Wyoming and Utah and some point this winter.  Before all of that though, he’s got duties to fulfill as the team captain on a 5-5 Bishop Amat squad that begins postseason play this Friday night.

“The first round of the playoffs is this Friday,” said Soto. “We’ll be playing Redlands High School.  We’re 5-5 right now, but our losses have been really tough on us because we shouldn’t have lost any of our games with the exception of one.  All of our losses were really close games but for whatever reason we didn’t.

“I happen to be the team captain.  It’s hard to stay on everybody all the time, but I try to keep them to stay focused and play with a lot of heart because if you don’t have heart, you don’t have anything.  This week I’m really going to stress that for the playoffs.”

Once Bishop Amat’s postseason run is complete, Soto will sit down and start thinking through his college options a little further.  It’s a decision that both his parents and his coaches are weighing in on.

“My coaches influence me a little bit and my parents, they just want me to make the right decision.  As long as I get my education, I don’t think it really matters to them where I go.  As far as coaches, they believe I’m Pac-10 material or Big 12 material too.”

To play in either conference, Soto knows he’ll have to bulk up.  The senior lineman says that shouldn’t be a problem.

“I’m going to have to gain some weight, but that’s no problem.  I currently weight about 265 pounds.  I’d like to add at least 20 more pounds of muscle.”

The 6-3 defensive and offensive tackle sees himself giving up the offensive game in college and focusing solely on being a defensive lineman.

“I see myself being a defensive tackle at the next level.   For the past three years while I’ve been on varsity they’ve been trying to get me to go both ways but it never really worked out.  This year they made me step it up so now I’m going both ways.  It’s hard sometimes but it just makes me in better shape overall.”

Finally, with his visit to Kansas a little more than a month away, Soto shares his thoughts on the Jayhawk football program and his excitement to check out Lawrence.

“I see a lot of potential (at Kansas),” Soto explained.  “I know they’ve kind of been struggling this year, but I see a team that’s going to be coming up and they’ve let me know that as well.  I know they’ve got a lot of people coming back and next year should be a better year.  I look forward to seeing the program up close.”


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