Fredonia senior keeps busy in the offseason, shines at Alabama football camp
When talent works hard
As the NFL wraps up its first week of the pre-season, many of our local high school football programs will soon begin their 2019 season and start to get into form. Except for Jake Skinner, because football season never ended for him. Last year Skinner broke out as one of the top high school football players in Western New York and has plans to build off of that for a big senior year.
The Hillbillies’ 2018 season ended with their only loss of the year coming in the playoffs, against Pioneer, 28-0 in the Class B semifinals. Skinner was one of the stars of the 2018 roster that went 8-1, lining up at tight end and fullback on offense, and on defense he played middle linebacker and defensive end. As a junior, Skinner led Fredonia in receiving with seven receptions for 243 yards and three touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, Skinner led the Hillbillies in tackles with 71 — 27 more than the next player on the team.
“Last season I just played my heart out and did my job,” said Skinner. “Our team worked together and kept our heads up and everyone focused on their job and how they could get better, which all around made not just me but my team as a whole stronger.”
The old saying is “hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.” In the case of Skinner, few things will be able to beat him. Skinner has the tangible traits and natural talent that can’t be taught or earned. He stands in at a towering 6’4″ and 240lbs, making him a force to be reckoned with. But Skinner does not just rest on his natural born abilities, this offseason he has made an effort to continue and fine tune his skill set.
“I’ve done lots this off season to make me an all around versatile athlete and working on all my different skills from footwork to route running to mobility,” said Skinner. “I train with Coach Overton at Canisius High School every week and I have to pay respect where it is due because he works wonders and has made me 100 times better at route running and an athlete in general.”
Instead of hanging out with friends and relaxing all summer, Skinner has focused on his future in football. From participating in passing leagues, visiting different colleges and training, the Fredonia senior has kept himself quite busy.
“Offseason work wins football games,” stated Skinner. “If you start working first day of training camp you aren’t going to do well. Commitment in the offseason can be tough at times because you have to sacrifice lots of things like hanging out with your friends. But in the end it’s a dream you are working towards and to achieve that dream you must give it your all.”
Skinner’s raw tools and skill set have caught the attention of many notable college football programs across the country.
“Right now it’s all about showing out this season and have a great season,” Skinner stated. “I have great offers as it is from Central Connecticut, Bryant, Sacred Heart, Stony Brook, Seton Hall and Southwest Minnesota.”
Most notably, Skinner received an invite to visit the University of Alabama and was asked to participate in a summer camp at the university. Skinner spent three days on the campus, living in the dorms and worked one-on-one with the coaches.
At the summer camp, Skinner shined, winning the All-Saban Award for tight ends — representing that he was the top 2020 tight end at the camp.
As most of us wonder and think about what the football star will decide to do after school, Skinner still has a lot to prove to the big name college football programs.
“Bigger schools have been reaching out like University of Pittsburgh and a few more BCS schools that need tape from this season to determine if I am the right fit in their program,” added Skinner. “My main goal this season is to make it as far as I can as a player and as a team. We have high hopes for this upcoming season and we are working our tails off to make this season the best it can be.”
College recruits and football fans can expect to see an improved Skinner from last year, as he strives to be the best tight end and all-around player he can be.
“The biggest thing I have been focusing on to prepare for this offseason is versatility,” Skinner said about one of his main focuses this off-season. “Being able to put my hand down and block a defensive end, but also able to release from the line and run a route to catch a ball.”
It is safe to say that when the football season starts up, Western New York fans will get a chance to see what it looks like when talent works hard.