by Lorenzo Reyna
The fastest rising quarterback in California’s San Ramon Valley happens to describe himself as the biggest underdog.
Jake Haener of Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista – the Most Valuable Player of Passing Down’s February 2016 Northern California Regional - may have received scholarship offers from Akron, Toledo, Middle Tennessee, Hawaii and Northern Arizona from February to April, but at 6-foot, 180-pounds, the Class of 2017 prospect said not everyone is raving about his quarterback play due to his size.
Haener, however, said he’s unfazed by his size dilemma.
“I may not have size but I don’t let that stop me,” Haener said.
He showed an ability to play bigger than his size indicates during the Passing Down season. Haener displayed a cool demeanor, even when the Kenion Training DI Elite Red offense went stagnant, and impressed spectators with the velocity he executed to his throws.
Haener shared the quarterback load with the February Nor Cal champs, helping guide Kenion to another appearance to the Best of the West Regional on April 24 in Placentia, Calif. and this time, the East Bay squad finished in the top four of the 18-team field.
Along with his zip and moxie, Haener describes himself as a cerebral signal caller.
“I’m a smart quarterback,” Haener said. “I’m not polished but I get the ball where it needs to be all the time. Plus knowing what the defense is going to run helps me a lot. That’s my strength, being smart.”
He finds his other motivation through comparing himself to the nation’s other top field generals.
“I see where I stand with the other quarterbacks in the country and ask myself ‘Am I better than him and do I need to work on a few more things?’ I like to see where they stand and where I stand,” Haener said.
More offers could be on the horizon for the latest stud quarterback from Monte Vista; the place where Kyle Wright emerged as a national recruit before committing to Miami in 2003.
Haener said USC, Wake Forest, Colorado State and Washington State are all planning to visit Monte Vista to watch him throw, saying “They’re all talking about potentially offering me if they like what they see.” Fresno State is another school looking to check out Haener, he said.
The one university he’s hoping to get an offer from is the place he calls his dream school: USC.
“Growing up, I saw them win all the time,” Haener said. “It was during a time when I was four or five years old. I even got a Matt Leinert and John David Booty jersey so they [USC] kind of caught on [with me].”
Haener has a career already mapped out. He said he’s interested in the communications field because his mother, Julie, is a renowned news anchor/reporter in the Bay Area for San Francisco Fox affiliate KTVU.
“My mom has been doing it for 18 years at KTVU and 25 years total. She knows a lot about it [the news industry] and she’s great at what she does,” Haener said. “It’s cool to see her do that.”
While Haener continues to lure the college coaches to Monte Vista, the Passing Down alum believes that even with mid-major offers, he’s one of the top sleepers in the state.
Said Haener: “I really do [feel like a sleeper]. People have knocked me down because of my height but I’ve been out here and I believe I can compete with the best guys out there. I’m not scared of anyone.”