Orlando Dr. Phillips freshman Jonathan Pollock has been offered a scholarship by the University of Akron. (CHRIS HAYS/ORLANDO SENTINEL)
Jonathan Pollock is one of a kind. From the moment of the first handshake with the Dr. Phillips freshman, it’s obvious upon meeting him that he is an extremely focused individual.
Akron head coach Terry Bowden and staff member Mark Ouimet certainly think he’s special. The Zips have made a verbal scholarship offer to the 6-foot, 198-pound linebacker; an offer that is surely the first of many to come.
“Oh definitely,” the ever confident Pollock said. He also said he wasn’t all that surprised about the offer even though he is just a freshman, albeit a 16-year-old freshman.
“It wasn’t all that random since I have been talking to them for a few months now,” Pollock said of his conversations with Ouimet, who is the assistant director of football operations for Bowden, who also has a few of his father’s old staff members like Chuck Amato as defensive coordinator and brother Jeff Bowden and former FSU star Terrell Buckley as assistants.
“They said they like my tape and the way I play and they’re trying to build their 2016 class.”
Jonathan and his father, Al Pollock, have made a concerted effort to get his name out there early, making the rounds to various camps and combines and starting a general public relations campaign to make sure Jonathan’s recruitment isn’t full of last-minute question marks come senior year.
It’s actually worked out to be quite advantageous. They’ll have a busy summer, even more so than their travels last year. The current plans are to attend on-campus camps at North Carolina, Duke, Akron, Arizona, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Memphis, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Southern Miss. During the upcoming Orange County schools spring break, the Pollocks will take in spring practices at Ole Miss for a few days.
“It’s definitely been something that we’ve talked about,” Pollock said of making the early public relations push. “We wanted to start building a relationship with all these coaches to let everyone know who I am and what I can do.”
Akron obviously figures being first in line might be to the Zips advantage. Pollock likes what he’s seen in Akron’s staff.
“I like the feel of it, the chemistry of the coaches and just how the coaches are great coaches and very nice guys,” Pollock said. “Also, their defensive scheme is just how I love it. They’re an explosive defense.
“They asked me if I was going to stay at Dr. Phillips High School for all four years and I said, ‘Yes.’ Coach Bowden told me he can’t wait to see me in the summer.”
Pollock was a varsity starter in eighth grade at Windermere Prep before moving on to DP last year.
As a freshman, Pollock played mostly special teams for the 13-1 Panthers, recording 13 tackles. He has bigger aspirations for his sophomore season, but he also said the year spent waiting in the wings was not wasted.
“If I was at any other school I don’t think I would have gotten this offer just because of the exposure Dr. Phillips grants,” Pollock said. “I’m 10 times the linebacker I was before I came here because of the great coaching and just being around all of these other great players ahead of me.
“The overall team speed has made me faster and not just physically, but mentally, as well. It’s a great learning experience this year and I’ve been catching up to where the game speed is at the 8A-football level . Me and my coaches think I’ll be able to start at that level next season.”
He’s such a student of the game, but his capacity for learning is not limited to the football field. He’s learned to be patient and he carries that virtue across all facets of his learning experiences.
“Being patient is just the name of the game,” he said. “Just like how I had to watch this season. I was able to watch the older kids and learn all about being patient and waiting my turn. It’s also about being patient on the field and waiting for plays to develop and being patient in the classroom and being able to concentrate better.
“It’s been great just being able to get a hit in here and there against 8A teams after playing 2A last year. It’s a lot different experience playing against bigger kids and faster kids. It just gives me more motivation to get in the gym and get out on the field to get stronger and faster.”
It’s difficult to fathom a more motivated Jonathan Pollock, but he said he still has much to learn.
“It’s all helping me because I’m going to be even more hungry to get better even before I get to college,” he said.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.