He’s the top-ranked B.C. high school football player in his position, number two in Canada and now Jake Ounsted is taking his game to the gridiron of the University of Massachusetts.
The Central Saanich student, who attends Mt. Doug Secondary and plays defensive tackle for the storied Rams football program, signed his commitment letter of intent to play for the Minutemen on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at school. It was National Signing Day for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States.
“There were some of my teammates, coaches and principal there,” he said of the ceremonial signing.
He actually made official his intent to play that at the college in Amherst, Mass. last weekend, when the family visited there. Mom Cathie (a former District of Central Saanich councillor) and dad Chris, were there when he made his decision.
“The players and coaches there were super welcoming,” Jake said in an interview, adding he liked what he saw at the school and in its sports facilities.
Already, the UMass football team (4-8 in 2017) has given Jake a workout regimen to follow. He said he’ll be bigger, faster and stronger by the time he travels to Amherst to join the team.
That’ll happen after he graduates from Mt. Doug in the spring. He said he’s been getting straight-As in school and is looking at enrolling in business courses at UMass, to possibly attain his CPA. Jake added the Minutemen will already be in training camp by the time he arrives but he plans on working out five times a week in order to be ready. UMass’ first scheduled game of the 2018 season is August 25 against the Duquesne Dukes.
Jake has played football at Mt. Doug for four years and he credits his coaches, particularly Mark Townsend, with helping him develop his game.
“The coaches are really committed there,” he said of the Rams.
He’s been playing football for around eight years, starting with the Peninsula Wildcats and going to Mt. Doug after his Grade 8 year on the Peninsula.
“I realized if I kept working hard, I could do well,” he said. “It’s really paid off so far.”
Jake played for Team BC last summer, representing the province in Halifax at the nationals, where they surprised many people after a long hiatus from the event, finishing fifth.
His goal is to reach the pros — either the CFL or the NFL. He’s followed the career of Christian Covington, a B.C. player in his position who went to Rice University in Houston, Texas in 2011. Covington was drafted by the Houston Texans of the NFL in the fifth round in 2015. Jake said his example showed him that it’s possible to reach a very high level in the sport.
For now, Jake said he’s concentrating on finishing high school and training for the next level.
Asked if his parents are proud of him and ready to see him go, he said they were a little upset that UMass is so far away.
“But they’re pretty proud of how far I’ve come.”