Jessen plans spring trip to the Palouse

<b>SPOKANE, ONCE A factory for producing Division IA football talent, has slowed production in the last decade to one or two in most years. But 2006 is shaping up like a flashback to the 60s or 70s, when the Lilac City annually would send five-plus to the major college stage. Mead High alone has three prospects this season who will likely be attracting big-time attention from recruiters, including running back/safety Skylar Jessen.

Mead head coach Sean Carty says Jessen's speed, great vision and a dedicated work ethic are why the RB/S promises to be one of the more sought after recruits from the area this year. Jessen has a scholarship offer from Boston College, with Washington State, Oregon State and Oregon showing strong interest and the likes of Ohio State, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Wake Forest and, of late, Washington, filling up his mailbox.

Teammates Paul Senescall, 6-1, 215-pounds, (FB, LB) and Andy Mattingly, 6-4, 215-pounds, (S, WR), who we'll be profiling later on CF.C, are also starting to get serious looks from Division 1 schools.

All of which Carty says is great -- as long as the world knows that the success of a team depends on all its members. For every yard that Jessen gains, he notes, there's a group of hosses leading the way.

COLLEGE COACHES CAN'T initiate contact with prospects until spring but recruits can phone coaches. And the 5-10, 202-pound Jessen did just that this week, making a call to Bill Doba.

"Oh, he's a great guy," Jessen said of the Cougars' head man. "I've gone down to the WSU camp since my freshman year. I was younger and nobody knew anything about me and he was just so nice and everything when I was a freshman. And I really like the running backs coach there (Kelly Skipper)."

Jessen said the Cougars are leaning toward him playing safety, but the verdict is still out. He noted that Wake Forest and Boston College already are slotting him at running back.

Jessen says he won't begin to rank his suitors for some time yet. He's undecided on if he'll attend junior days at Oregon and Washington and his track schedule may also preclude attending Washington State's junior day in April. As a result, he's going to Pullman a little earlier to take in some of the spring workouts.

BESIDES RUNNING BACK and safety, Jessen is versatile enough that he could probably shine in college as a slot receiver and certainly as a return man.

Carty said Jessen possess an extra gear on the gridiron. In the 100 meters he routinely runs between 10.6 and 10.8 and could challenge for the state title this year. On the football field, he has deceptive speed, causing opponents to take the wrong angle. Carty says Jessen has a gift for setting defenders up as they approach, rather than juking people out of their shoes. He also has some power to go along with it.

"He looks like he's not running very fast -- but he's fast," said Carty. "He's powerful. If he does come into the mix, he can lower the boom. He's a nice mix of everything." On grass, Jessen was timed at 4.47 in the 40 at the Eugene NIKE combine a year ago.

JESSEN SUFFERED THE dreaded high ankle sprain in Week 2 of the 2004 season and missed four games. He still gained 960 yards on 105 carries with 14 TDs but the injury limited his mobility. He had surgery the day after Mead played it's final game. Undeniably, it was a solid season, limited playing time or no, but Carty said gains of 10-20 yards could very well have gone all the way had Jessen been completely healthy. Also, his time at defensive back was severely cut because he couldn't backpedal.

"I went back there a little bit last year," said Jessen of playing in the secondary late in the year. "I liked it."

But talk about tough. In order to take the field, Jessen taped up the ankle, put a sock on, then a brace over that, and then taped up again. He'd put his shoe on and then put more tape over that.

"We went through a roll and a half to 2 rolls every time," said Jessen.

In the weight room, Jessen benches 320-pounds and has a vertical in the 30 to 33 inch range. Academically, he carries a 3.5 GPA.

As a sophomore, Jessen set the GSL on fire with 1,965 yards on 190 carries -- a 10.6 average. Named league offensive MVP and earning first team All-GSL honors, he set a single-season league scoring record with 34 TDs.

Skylar Jessen profile

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