Ramblers linebacker Jake Gonzalez expected to make big difference this season
Jake Gonzalez is starting to look like a natural at the one position he was most hesitant about assuming.
The Loyola senior experimented at linebacker, cornerback and wide receiver before finally settling at safety for the perennial powerhouse Ramblers.
“I was shocked at first when I was told I would be playing safety,” Gonzalez told the Chicago Tribune. “I knew it was a great opportunity. I wanted to take advantage of it. I was only a sophomore, I was playing my first year on the varsity and never had played safety. I didn’t know the league or the teams or what to expect. My coaches helped me a lot.”
Loyola coach John Holecek, a former NFL player, hints the sky seems the limit for Gonzalez, going as far as to predict the Penn University recruit could end his Ramblers’ career as the school’s all-time leading tackler.
“He can run all day long,” Holecek told the Tribune. “He’s got the highest motor that I’ve ever coached. He’s a smart kid, can handle all the checks and is so athletic and explosive.”
Still, the Ramblers expect more from Gonzalez this season after back-to-back 8A runner-up finishes. The 6-2, 195-pound, three-year starter has spent much of his summer tutoring younger players about the finer points of the team’s complex defense.
“He helps everyone around him,” Holecek added. “He has the physical ability and speed. He’s also a sure tackler and mentally knows the ins and outs of his position. Safety is the natural position for him. He’s down in the box quite often for us.”
Gonzalez has registered 194 tackles over the last two seasons.