ILLUSION AND ENDEAVOR: 

INTERVIEW WITH JAXON JANKE 

WIDE RECEIVER – SOUTH DAKOTA STATE JACKRABBITS

The extraordinary Uruguayan journalist and writer Eduardo Galeano affirmed that «many small people, in small places, doing small things, can change the world.» Undoubtedly, the maxim of the great Galeano becomes fully valid in the face of the arduous and complex current panorama that – unfortunately – we are having to live. 

In a football world dominated by the big stars who completely monopolize the most important media spots; a few hours after Free Agency opens and the torrent and avalanche of news practically collapse our reasoning; a month and a half after the illusion of the fans is illuminated with the choice of young prospects who can change the course of a franchise that sinks adrift, today is the appropriate day to anchor our gaze on other active agents of college football, that legion of ovoid workers who carve out their history in the grills throughout that immense nation called the United States, a country carved out of endeavor, dedication, perseverance and the illusion of its inhabitants in their almost 250 years of history. 

Last season two players entered the NFL Draft on tiptoe, almost making no noise, although with a clear conscience for having done an impressive job in their college years. However, within a few weeks, both showed that they were going to become a very important part in the future of their teams. The two had a common genesis, as they entered the professional circus from a second-level football competition -for many mistakenly-, a league eclipsed -unfairly- by the older brother who always bloody engulfs the attention of the fans. We refer to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, or better known as the FCS.

The two leaders, coming from this competition, were none other than Jeremy Chinn and James Robinson, two impressive players who dazzled in their rookie year, putting the spotlight on this division. Chinn and Robinson were preceded by other great players who were or are already true NFL stars (Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, Darius Leonard, Cooper Kupp, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Carson Wentz, Dallas Goedert, Jimmy Garoppolo, Kyle Juszcyk, Mike Iupati, David Johnson, Robert Tonyan, James Develin, Terron Armstead , James Bradberry Jr., Nasir Adderley, JC Tretter, Jamal Agnew, Taron Johnson, Tarik Cohen…). Players all of them who became great being small, but marking their life and history with a word in capital letters: HUMILITY.

James Robinson on his time at Illinois State – goredbirds.com

This year the FCS, due to the vicissitudes of this unfortunate pandemic, does not share the media spotlight with its ruthless sister – the FBS – and opens an unusual season in spring. Perhaps it is time to enjoy this competition, savor its arduous and historical rivalries, enjoy the environments, feel the tradition in every inch of the fields… Today we have the pleasure of discovering this exciting league from the hand of a promising young receiver, a boy who endorses the maxims of dedication, work, passion, effort and humility. Jaxon Janke, receiver for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits, a name not so well known in our country, but whose limit is the sky.

Jaxon, with the illusion as a flag – gojacks.com

First of all, Jaxon, we want to thank you, from SDSU Jackrabbits Spain & Coollege Nation, for your total accessibility to grant us this interview. We want to continue bringing College Football closer to the Spanish public and having one of the most promising Wide Receivers on the university football scene is – for us – an honor. Thanks, Jaxon.

1. In these moments of world crisis with this pandemic that devastates the entire world and calls into question our known order and system of life, how are you and yours living it?

“My family has been very fortunate during this Covid-19 outbreak. We have all kept our health and have taken the necessary precautions to limit our exposure in order to keep the chances of contracting the disease to a minimum. I have really learned the importance of not taking life for granted!”

2. Season starting at the end of February, do you think it will be a completely atypical season? Has your preparation changed a lot compared to other years?

“Yes, the season will be unlike anything that we have experienced before. None of these games are guaranteed to be played. In any given week, a team can have a handful of players test positive for Covid-19. This would result in a game getting postponed or even cancelled. We are really taking advantage of every opportunity we get to play and are doing everything we can to ensure that our team stays healthy.”

3. Do you think that competing in the FCS without sharing space with the FBS can benefit you for scouters and the general public? Would you like the FCS to stay on the spring calendar?

“Being the only football league in the nation playing in the Spring definitely ups our exposure and media coverage. More people are focusing on FCS football now than ever before. This definitely increases chances to be noticed by scouts and it brings a light to FCS football. In my opinion, football is meant to be played in the Fall. Although this Spring season has brought a lot of attention to us, I think that it’d be best to maintain the Fall season moving forward. In my opinion, football is meant to be played in the Fall!”

Dallas Goedert, a hero in Brookings – gojacks.com

4. We would like to know how your beginnings were in the world of football. Where does your love for practicing this sport come from? What decided you to dedicate yourself exclusively to the sport of the ovoid?

“I have loved playing football since I was very young. My older siblings played which allowed me to be exposed to the sport early in my childhood. I started playing competitively in the 3rd grade and always knew I had a shot at being a really good player if I put in the time and effort to getting better. My father played when he was in high school and he was always very supportive of our goals and did everything he could to help us achieve them.”

5. Three consecutive Class 11A football state tittles, selected as co-captain of the 2017 Sioux Falls Argus Leader Elite 45 team with your brother Jadon, 112 catches for 2527 yards with 43 touchdowns. Impressive numbers. In Spain, sports at the institute are not lived with such passion. How can you describe your time at Madison High School?

“I loved the time I was able to spend wearing the maroon and white as a Madison Bulldog! I made countless memories that I will cherish for a very long time. I owe a lot of my success to the great people within the program, including my coaches and the awesome staff within the high school.”  

6. How do you feel playing alongside your brother Jadon in the Jackrabbits? It is curious that your greatest support can also be your maximum competitor, since you both play in the same position.

“It has always been our dream to play and start together here at SDSU. We are able to complement each other very well in the passing game and it gives teams more to have to worry about. We are always competing and trying to be better than the other and this has helped us to stay hungry and not get complacent throughout life.”

Jaxon’s best partner, his brother Jadon – gojacks.com

7. Is Cade Johnson’s shadow very long in Brookings?

“Cade was an electrifying athlete and was great to play alongside. He brought a lot to the team and there were definitely some questions that needed to be answered after he left the program. Just like when Dallas Goedert and Jake Wieneke left, players needed to step up and perform to their optimum level. I think the same thing is happening now. We are a young team and are very excited about the potential we have.”

8. Do you think Cade Johnson will be drafted? What can he contribute to the teams that bet on him?

“I believe Cade will get drafted for sure. He had a great outing at the Reece’s Senior Bowl and that definitely sky-rocketed his publicity. He can be a great slot receiver in the league and will surely prove some doubters wrong.”

9. How would you define yourself in the wide receiver position? What do you consider to be your best quality? You can also contribute a lot as a punt returner.

“I would explain my style of play as almost a mixture of Adam Thielen and Cooper Kupp. I believe I have great speed for my size, and I can make the tough catches. Punt returner has a lot to do with guts and the willingness to catch the ball while the opponent is sprinting full speed at you. I was able to make a name for myself early with my ability to return punts.”  

Cade Johnson, a slot receiver who can surprise… – gojacks.com

10. You were selected in 2019 within the FCS Freshman All-America First team, what is your best memory of last season, your first year?

“One of my favorite memories from last season was getting my first career start and reception against the University of Minnesota. It was awesome getting to play against a Big 10 program and we showed them that the FCS isn’t a league to look down on.”

11. What do you expect from this season on an individual level? You are one of our favorite players and we believe that 2021 will be the year of your total hatching.

“My main goal is to just keep improving each week and to build off of my performance from the previous game. As an individual, I want to be someone that my teammates can count on and look to in times of need. I want to be a leader for the underclassmen and allow them to use me as an example of how to do things the right way!”

12. How is the traditional “Dakota Marker» game lived? Could you describe to us that ancient rivalry with the North Dakota State Bison?

“In recent years the FCS has seen SDSU and NDSU atop the rankings on a very regular basis. The Dakota Marker game has been the biggest regular season game of the year for a long time now. It is nowhere near just “another game” on the schedule. Securing the marker and having it in Brookings allows us to have a greater chance at claiming the title of conference champions and then a higher seed heading into the playoffs.” 

13. Do you consider that the FCS is a fairer competition than the FBS? Keep in mind that 16 teams enter the playoffs in the FCS compared to 4 in the College Football Playoffs.

“The FCS definitely allows for more teams to have a chance to really compete for that National Championship. Anything can happen in the playoffs and by having a larger bracket this makes it even more challenging to secure that spot atop all of the other programs.” 

The ancent Dakota Marker – wnax.com

14. The atmosphere in Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium is spectacular, how could you describe it?

“We have a pretty awesome support system here in Brookings. The fans are very supportive of Jackrabbit Athletics and have been waiting a long time to be able to cheer us on again. It is breathtaking running out of the tunnel and seeing the stadium full of so many people that love watching the Jacks play football.”

15. What is the life of the university athlete (diet, training, relationships, family …)?

“We are extremely busy during the season. We have to find ways to balance class, lifting, meetings, practice, nutrition, and also need to find time to get proper sleep each night. Our social lives really die down a lot compared to the off-season.” 

16. What is your favorite NFL team?

“Skol Vikings!’

Jaxon, wide receiver and punt returner – gojacks.com

17. What do you know about Spain? Would you like to visit it?

“I have some friends that have visited Spain in the past. They had nothing but good things to say about the atmosphere and the scenery! I’ve never been outside of the U.S. but I definitely hope to travel to Spain in the near future.” 

18. We know that you are a reference in the community and that you love participating in social services and works, tell us about that important relationship, in the United States, between sport and community?

“The community is incredibly supportive of us and we do multiple service projects throughout the year. It is important to give back and show the community that we appreciate everything they do for us!”

19. Ja’Marr Chase or Devonta Smith? Who is your favorite NFL Draft 2021 player?

“Watching Devonta Smith excel in the National Championship game was very cool. He just finds so many ways to get open and blows by the defenders with ease!”

Jaxon. illusion and endeavour – gojacks.com

Jaxon has proven to be a young man committed to his team and his community. A role model for young athletes. Aware that his NFL dream is yet to come, but it will come based on dedication, perseverance, sacrifice, enthusiasm, passion and a lot of humility. Not everything is Lawrence, Sewell, Wilson or Fields in the collegiate world, fortunately there are many Jankes and, without them, the College Football spectacle would not be possible. Many thanks to all the Jaxons of this and other sports. All the luck in the world in your professional career, Jaxon.

What a catch by Jaxon Janke! – Vía Twitter @GoJacksFB

#GoJacks 🐇🐰 #BringTheBlue 🔵🟡

@CoollegeNation – @EduVall82

@GoJacksFBSpain