If you think of a football offense as a car, then the running back is the engine that keeps it moving. Senior Jake Klaus is certainly the driving force behind Penn sprint football’s offense, and he’s been doing it for years.
Ever since Klaus began playing football, he’s always been focused on winning. Coming into each and every season, he said his ultimate goal has been to earn a title. And yet, in what will be his final year of competitive football, he’s taking a slightly more laid-back approach.
“[I’m] just coming out here, having more fun than usual,” Klaus said. “[I’m] less nervous for the games, trying to just enjoy it.”
This new mindset seems to already be paying dividends for the New Jersey native. His coaches are feeding him the ball and letting him run wild with it, and he has rewarded them with close to 300 yards on the ground in only two games.
In addition to his new way of thinking, Klaus is also motivated by the bitter taste of defeat that is still left over in his mouth after last year’s CSFL championship loss to Army.
“We all just know that we should’ve had another ring,” Klaus said.
The game against Army was one of the toughest losses in his entire football career, but he has clearly returned to his usual form as arguably the most dynamic player in Penn’s offense.
“He’s very productive, he’s a great leader by example, he does it on the field, he’s a workhorse,” coach Bill Wagner said.
“Workhorse” may be an understatement this year, as Klaus has had an excess of opportunities to showcase his talent and consistency. He has shouldered the load for the Quakers in both of their games thus far, carrying the ball over 60 times.
With junior quarterback Eddie Jenkins nursing an injury, observers can expect more of the same from Klaus. After Jenkins went down last week against Cornell, Klaus took over. There was one drive near the end of the third quarter where Klaus ran the ball on all but two plays, resulting in the go-ahead field goal.
“Against Cornell, he had to take the bull by the horns, and he led the team down the field,” Wagner said.
After seeing what Klaus can do with the ball in his hands on the majority of plays, the game plan for this coming Friday’s game against Chestnut Hill College should be very simple.
“To Jake, fake to Jake, that’s what we gotta do,” Wagner said.
This mantra resonates with the entirety of Klaus’ career. From day one, he was involved in the offense and on special teams, and this year especially the coaches want to utilize him in some way on every snap he is on the field for.
The heavy workload doesn’t seem to phase Klaus at all. He is always trying to think of new and better ways to accrue more and more yards, unbothered by how many carries he is given.
“I’m going to try and break some more plays, I think the offensive line is really setting me up with a lot of good holes,” Klaus said.
At the end of the day, all of Klaus’ efforts are to help the team win by any means necessary. Even though he may be more relaxed as he looks back upon years of success, there continues to be only one thing on his mind.
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