Senior Signing Spotlight: Jacob Zevallos
Chandler center saw grind pay dividends as senior
This is No. 22 in a month-long series of profiles of Arizona high school seniors that signed with four-year colleges. Here's the full list (currently totaling 307) of players from within the state moving on to the next level.
Not every player that will be playing college football officially announced his decision on National Signing Day (or in the December early signing period). The first Wednesday in February is merely the first day of the period where seniors can complete a National Letter of Intent. For many joining Division III schools, that can happen a little later.
Case in point, on National Signing Day, we had 255 Arizona high school players committed or signed to four-year colleges. A month later, we've boosted that list by more than 50. One of those players is Jacob Zevallos.
The 6-foot, 255-pound offensive lineman from Chandler High visited Ripon College the first weekend of February (a few days before NSD) and received an offer from the Wisconsin school. He committed to the Red Hawks on Feb. 17. In many situations, with Division III schools unable to give athletic scholarships, there is a delay for either academic transcripts, admission confirmation, or financial aid money.
During his visit, Zevallos got to tour the school and the facilities. He also got to know some of the current Ripon players.
"Ripon really had that welcoming feeling I was looking for in a school so I could feel comfortable for the next four years," Zevallos said in an e-mail interview. "The academics at Ripon also really caught my eye and I really want to challenge myself in college."
Zevallos' story is one of perseverance. He didn't even play on the Freshman A team (he started on the B while weighing in at 190 pounds). He moved up to varsity as a sophomore and was second string. However, in his junior year, Zevallos went down to JV to get his reps. As a senior, he was determined to beat out all comers and was the starting center for the Wolves.
"Playing for Chandler is a real GRIND," Zevallos said. "I emphasize on grind because, if mentally and physically you aren't tough, you won't make it past your freshman year. Trusting the process is also a real thing when it comes to the Chandler program."
By season's end, Zevallos had put together some film against 6A competition. When meeting college coaches, he had to turn on his social skills as well.
"I had to really put in the work and show I had a great character to college coaches and show what I could do on the field with my film," Zevallos said of his role in his recruitment.
In the team's postseason banquet, Zevallos earned the Offensive Lineman of the Year Award. Chandler won its third consecutive 6A title with an offense that rolled up 49.6 points per game. There were names galore for Arizona high school sports fans to follow with QB Jacob Conover (BYU signee), RB DeCarlos Brooks (Cal signee), and TE Brayden Liebrock (Texas signee). It's likely you don't know as much about those guys if the blockers up front don't do their jobs.
With the Wolves' 65-28 victory over Perry (a record for most points in a championship game), Zevallos won a second state championship ring. This one will have a different feel as he played a larger role and had to work his way back up to the varsity.
"My most memorable moment is the state game," Zevallos said. "It was one of my biggest accomplishments because everything I have been doing since I was six years old has led me to achieve my dream of being a state champion."
Ripon recruited Zevallos as a center. There was some talk about possibly being on defense, but he will most likely remain on the offense.
Zevallos is currently in his third year on the CHS track and field team where he throws the shot put and discus.
Ripon is a member of the Midwest Conference. The Red Hawks finished 7-3 last season. Head Coach Ron Ernst has had just three losing seasons in his 28 years at the helm. Zevallos should feel right at home as he enters another powerful offense. Ripon led the MWC in scoring with 399 points. The school record is 406 (set in 2010), so there's something to shoot for in the next four years.
"I just appreciate everything the Chandler program has done for me, especially all my family, (Offensive Line) Coach (Chris) Chick, (Former Head) Coach (Shaun) Aguano, and all my friends who stuck with me all four years and supported my dreams of playing college football," Zevallos said. "Go Red Hawks!"