Athlete Profile: Jake Handran

by: PHOTO BY EMILY HAVEN PHOTOGRAPHY  - Woodburn resident and Blanchet Catholic senior Jake Handran recently committed to Linfield College, where he'll play football for the Wildcats and pursue a business degree.Faith is important to Jake Handran.

The Woodburn resident spent nine years attending school at St. Luke Catholic School and when it came time to move on to the next level, he determined that Blanchet Catholic School in Salem was the best fit to further his educational needs.

“My decision to go to high school at Blanchet was based around my Catholic faith and continuing my education in the Catholic school system,” he said.

Fast forward four years and the lanky freshman that played football for the Woodburn Junior Bulldogs is three inches taller, 75-pounds bigger and ready for life’s next adventure after recently signing to study and play football at Linfield College this fall.

Handran’s decision came after making the difficult choice between large Division I schools like Gonzaga, Oregon and Oregon State versus smaller private universities in Willamette, Pacific and Linfield. He ultimately chose Linfield because it allowed him to join one of the best Division III football programs in the country while providing an elite education as he seeks a business degree that will pave the way toward a master’s in business or law.

“I feel that Linfield is a good fit for me academically and I really like the coaches and the atmosphere at the school,” said Handran. “I met with the coaching staff several times, attended some of their football games last year, also spent the night with some players and attended a couple of classes.”

Handran joins a Wildcat team that consistently ranks among the elite D3 teams in the nation. Linfield hasn’t lost a game in the Northwest Conference since 2008 and the Wildcats have posted a record of 53-6 in that span. While Linfield has been dominant, the team has fallen just short of national title territory after last winning a championship in 2004.

by: PHOTO COURTESY OF BLANCHET CATHOLIC - Jake Handran's versatility on offense and defense could prove to be his most valuable asset when he joins the Linfield Wildcats football team this fall. The Wildcats are looking to repeat as Northwest Conference champions for the sixth consecutive year.Handran hopes to add to Linfield’s pedigree after spending much of the last few years terrorizing PacWest teams as Blanchet’s middle linebacker. His junior year resume of 87 tackles — 58 coming solo — earned him all-conference honors and helped convince Linfield coaches that he’d be a valuable addition to the team. As to where he’ll play, Handran says it’s yet to be determined.

“The coaches have been talking to me about the defensive end position but I don’t think that will be solidified until we get out on the field,” said Handran, who also added a 1,000-yard season and 17 touchdowns on offense as a fullback in 2012. His versatility on either side of the ball opens up possibilities of playing middle linebacker or tight end for the Wildcats.

“I prefer defense but have spent all of my football career, starting in third grade with Coach Claxton and the Woodburn Bulldogs, carrying the ball,” he said. “So I am flexible and will play wherever I can best help the team.”

In addition to his skills on the football field, his interests outside of football make him attractive with Linfield recruiters. Handran is an active member in the National Honor Society and a member of the Blanchet Student Council. He is involved in DECA and youth leadership through the chamber of commerce and recently was awarded the DAR Good Citizen’s Certificate by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

While Linfield affords Handran a great opportunity to further his educational goals after his football career is long over, the ability to play the sport he loves at the next level is something he’s aspired to since he was in elementary school.

“I had a passion for football from the minute that I stepped out on the field at Legion Park in my football gear nine years ago,” Handran said. “I have always dreamed of playing college football.”

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