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Jakes Puts Suitors on Low Flame

VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Valencia lineman, a part-time chef, keeps colleges guessing in preparation for senior season.

September 01, 2000|DAVE DESMOND | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VALENCIA — Kaelen Jakes has been asked repeatedly where he is going to college.

The questions come from cable television shows, Internet recruiting services, reporters and friends.

Will it be Texas? He lived in Texas for four years before moving to California and enrolling as a freshman at Valencia High.

How about UCLA? Manuel White and Ray Cassaday, former Valencia teammates, are Bruin freshmen.

Perhaps Nebraska? It's tough to turn down a call from the Cornhuskers.

As the No. 1 defensive lineman in the region, Jakes will have his pick of just about any program in the nation.

But if he has already made up his mind, Jakes isn't saying.

If anyone can stand up to a grilling, it's a guy who works in his spare time as a barbecue chef.

"I'll know where I'm going when the time is right," said Jakes, a SuperPrep preseason All-American. "Right now, I just want to focus on the season."

Most opponents will be focusing on Jakes, who has started 27 consecutive games since earning a spot at defensive end as a sophomore.

As Jakes began to establish himself as a force, opponents began to run away from his side of the field.

That's why Coach Brian Stiman has cooked up a plan for his resident chef and marquee player.

Jakes has been planted in the middle of the defensive line, at nose tackle, which will force teams to answer a painful question:

Would you like your bruises on the right or left side of your body?

"I'm never going to allow an offense to dictate where they're going to run," Stiman said. "We don't want them to have the luxury of preplanning their blocking schemes, though, so we'll move him around at times."

As a freshman, Jakes didn't go out for football. He wanted to be a basketball player until he was spotted on campus by the freshman football coach and invited to join the team.

As a junior, Jakes helped the Vikings to a 10-4 record and an appearance in the Southern Section Division III final in the school's fifth season with a senior class.

Selected to junior All-American, all-state and Times' All-Valley teams, Jakes had little chance to help the Vikings in the championship game, going down with an injury on the first play of the game.

He watched from the sidelines as Valencia lost to Foothill League nemesis Hart, 34-6.

That's in the past. Jakes is looking ahead.

"My only goal is for the team to be successful this year," he said. "Nothing else matters as much."

So, what's on the chef's menu for what he hopes is a tantalizing senior season?

* Extra beef: He was 6 feet 3 1/2 and 235 pounds at the end of last season.

After a rigorous off-season training program and a growth spurt, Jakes resembles a large freezer at 6-5 and 260.

* Sandwiches: Jakes will be the focal point of most opponents' offenses and the subject of weekly double- and triple-team blocking schemes.

That's all right with Jakes.

"If they're going to try that hard to stop me, it's only going to make my team better," he said. "We have a lot of good players, and that's going to leave somebody unblocked."

* Pancakes: Jakes bench presses 305 pounds and squats 440. He's a relentless and powerful rusher who will leave more than his share of offensive linemen flattened.

"White and Cassaday got a lot of the attention last year, but Jakes just murdered us twice last year," said Coach Ron Hilton of Foothill League rival Saugus, whose team also lost to Valencia in the section semifinals.

As for his preference of colleges, Jakes says he's put that decision on the back burner for a while.

There will be no weekend recruiting trips to out-of-state colleges during his senior season.

"I'm no more special than anyone else on this team," he said. "I don't think I should be taking off, missing Saturday practices when no one else is missing."

And he'd prefer not to hear any more questions.

"I don't like all of this personal attention," he said. "It kind of bothers me. Football is not a one-man sport. I just want to play."

It's food for thought.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

HOW THEY RATE

A look at the top defensive linemen in the region:

With comment by Eric Sondheimer

*--*

Rk Player School Ht. Wt. Yr. 1. Kaelen Jakes Valencia 6-5 260 Sr.

*--*

Texas, UCLA and Nebraska want him

*

*--*

Rk Player School Ht. Wt. Yr. 2. Evan Allen Hart 6-4 225 Sr.

*--*

Had 18 pass deflections last season

*

*--*

Rk Player School Ht. Wt. Yr. 3. Brandon Faumuina Buena 6-2 220 Sr.

*--*

Pursues QBs with great passion

*

*--*

Rk Player School Ht. Wt. Yr. 4. Mike Bonelli St. Bonaventure 6-3 215 Sr.

*--*

He can run down fast ballcarriers

*

*--*

Rk Player School Ht. Wt. Yr. 5. Andre Berkeley Cleveland 6-5 325 Sr.

*--*

Big guy, big hitter

*

*--*

Rk Player School Ht. Wt. Yr. 6. Art David Alemany 5-10 255 Sr.

*--*

Two-way starter for Indians

*

*--*

Rk Player School Ht. Wt. Yr. 7. Jose Flores Hart 6-3 250 Sr.

*--*

Biggest surprise in fall camp

*

*--*

Rk Player School Ht. Wt. Yr. 8. Matt Jackson Burroughs 6-4 215 Sr.

*--*

Must make plays on defense

*

*--*

Rk Player School Ht. Wt. Yr. 9. Michael Graves Antelope Valley 6-3 310 Sr.

*--*

Won't be easy to push out of the way

*

*--*

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