Jankowski taking his time

Arrowhead standout was close to committing this week but will instead further consider his options

For some prospective college football players, recruiting is an open book, with information flowing freely throughout the process. In the case of Jason Jankowski, however, only a very short list of people can be considered, ‘in the know.'

Jankowski, a 6-foot-4, 252-pound defensive end/linebacker prospect at Arrowhead High School in Hartland, Wis., has several scholarship offers, but he still is not comfortable stating who they are from.

"Coach (Tom) Taraska wants me to keep that between me and him and my family," Jankowski said in a telephone interview Friday. "Just for the purpose of just being humble. He just wants me to just right now just focus on the season and to just keep everything on the down low. Because it gets mixed up sometimes. Like I know the (Milwaukee) Journal Sentinel wants to write an article and he just would really just like to keep it between us until I decide."

Jankowski's decision almost came to fruition recently. In late June he told BadgerStatePreps.com that he would make his verbal commitment within two weeks.

Said Jankowski: "It was close, but then I talked it over with Coach Taraska and actually there have been some schools that have come on real heavily lately. Some real big-time schools. And so we just figured that maybe it would be smart to just wait it out. Because I want to weigh my options and that's what I'm doing right now. I'm just sorting everything out and kind of just taking a look at everybody.

"I was going to make a decision this past week but then I decided that it wasn't time yet."

"I had it narrowed down… I'm not in any kind of rush to do this," Jankowski said. "I figured it's not signing day, so I really don't have to rush and commit or anything right now. I'm just looking everything over."

Jankowski does not even want the number of scholarship offers he holds to be public knowledge.

"I still cannot comment on that either," he said. "Because it's just the same thing. I mean you remember Nick (Hayden), Nick went through the same stuff that I'm going through and he just, he told me to keep it on the down low. And then, you know, I almost told the guy from the Journal but I was sitting right with Nick and then Nick's like, ‘Whoa, no, keep that to yourself or else Coach Taraska really gets on you.'"

Nick Hayden is a true sophomore defensive tackle at the University of Wisconsin and an Arrowhead alum.

"He's the No. 1 guy that I get advice from. Him and Coach Taraska," Jankowski said.

Hayden's advice? Stick to Taraska's plan and keep your options open and your opportunities to yourself.

"He said basically he had some friends that he met at the Army All-American Bowl that had made it very well known where they were offered and stuff," Hayden said. "They compared the process and all of them wish they had kept it to themselves because of the fact that it makes it so much easier when it comes down to decision time. And when you don't rule any schools out and so they stop recruiting you kind of thing. He just thinks that if you just keep it to yourself, then more schools will come after you."

The recruiting process was probably more intense for Hayden, an Army All-American, than it has been for Jankowski (just how intense it has been for Jankowski will not be known until he makes his decision), but Hayden still managed to stay mum until he verbally committed to the Badgers in August of 2003.

"Nick kept it very quiet," Jankowski said. "He wouldn't even tell me, and his younger brother, who was my best friend, wouldn't even tell me. It was very, very tight kept. He wouldn't tell anybody from our school… It was just like me. He kept it… between him, Taraska and his family."

Jankowski recently received similar advice from two other Arrowhead alums: current UW third-year sophomore quarterback Tyler Donovan and former UW long snapper/tight end Mike Solwold, who went on to an NFL career as a long snapper. Solwold, Hayden and Donovan all recently spoke at Arrowhead's team camp.

"[Solwold] said the best thing to do is just keep it to yourself and everybody will find out sooner or later," Jankowski said.

Jankowski could play defensive end, strongside linebacker or middle linebacker in college.

"I know a lot of schools are pushing for more defensive end now because at my last doctor thing I was like 6-4 and like 252 (pounds). And they are all thinking I'm going to put on some more weight," Jankowski said. "Then when I recently tested at the 40(-yard dash) again I ran a 4.656 (seconds)… and they think that that's enough for a linebacker. They're starting everything out with me more for both positions. And it will all come down to basically what they have and how much weight I gain when I go to college."

Jankowski attended one-day camps at Iowa State, Michigan and Wisconsin this summer.

"They were great," Jankowski said of the camps. "I got a lot of time with the defensive coordinator at Iowa State… I worked a lot with Coach Stripling [defensive line coach Steve Stripling]… over in Michigan. He was a great guy. I liked to work with him and I also worked with Coach Palermo [defensive line coach John Palermo] at Madison. And me and him clicked, we bonded real well. He said I'm a very well coachable kid. And he really liked that…

"At all these camps they treated us like Gods and it was great."

Jankowski said he chose one-day camps "just to kind of get ready for the season. Kind of put the pads on and do the hitting because I kind of miss that a little bit."

While Jankowski will not discuss his scholarship offers or favorites, he did give a general idea of what he is looking for in a school.

"Well, obviously the football program, that's No. 1," he said. "But I also would like an academically strong school because I'd like to get a good degree and leave there…. So I can get a good job."

Jankowski plans to major in business or pre law and later attend law school or an MBA program.


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