Walk-on Wideout

Spending last season on MSU’s scout team, John Jakubik is earning coaches’ praise


You don’t know John Jakubik.

You might not notice the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Jakubik if you sat next to him on the bus, saw him at a party or even worked with him on a group project.

But he’s getting noticed somewhere else.

As a walk-on sophomore wide receiver, Jakubik quickly has made a name for himself within the MSU football coaching staff. He transferred from Kalamazoo College — with 21 catches for 244 yards and three touchdowns in 2010 — and spent all of last season practicing on MSU’s scout team.

This season, he hopes to find his way onto the field, and if the word from MSU’s spring practices is any indication, he might do just that.

“The biggest thing (about Jakubik) is that he came in as a walk-on and immediately learned the offense by being on scout team — without any reps,” wide receivers coach Terrence Samuel said. “He’s taking on the board and taking it to the field pretty seamlessly.”

After he tore his anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, during his senior year at Detroit Catholic Central, interest in Jakubik dried up, so he turned to Kalamazoo College, where he still would have the opportunity to play football.

But from day one with the Hornets, Jakubik said he felt he had the chance to do something more, and after speaking with one of his former high school coaches, made the decision to walk on at MSU.

“Coming up here and playing with the big boys is a dream come true,” he said. “It’s always what I’ve wanted to do, and I’m just trying to grasp every opportunity I have and make the most out of it.”

Early last year, Jakubik caught the eye of then-sophomore Andrew Maxwell, who likely will be the starting quarterback for the Spartans this year.

Jakubik said Maxwell took him under his wing, working with him during the offseason to help develop him into a more complete receiver.

“The chemistry and the relationship we have with one another is only going to get stronger,” Maxwell said.

Jakubik knows he isn’t the most talented member of MSU’s receiving corps, but he has been finding other ways to stand out.

Maxwell commended Jakubik’s ability to run smooth, fluid routes, something the Plymouth, Mich., native prides himself on.

“I know I’m not going to be the fastest guy out there, like (sophomore receivers) Keith Mumphery and Tony Lippett,” he said. “But what I don’t have with my speed, I try to make up with my route running. Crisp routes, that’s the one thing I do work on a lot.”

In Saturday’s intersquad scrimmage, Jakubik’s hard work paid off, as he hauled in four catches for 30 yards, leading the Spartan receivers.

Jakubik has drawn comparisons to former Spartan and current NFL wide receiver Blair White, who also got his start with the team as a walk-on in 2005.

But the comparisons don’t bother Jakubik, who said he had been watching White’s MSU career since he was in high school.

“He’s one of my biggest heroes because he’s a walk-on just like me, so I’m just trying to take on his kind of role,” he said. “I’d say I dreamt big seeing Blair White do it. But now that I’ve gotten bigger, I’ve improved, (and) the sky’s the limit for me.
“I don’t see why I can’t do what he did, or even more.”

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