Around the Region

Bears linebacker has taken ownership of defense

Jake Coon considered being a two-sport athlete at Wash U., but chose to focus his efforts on football.
Washington U. athletics photo

Jake Coon had dreams of playing Ivy League football.

But like so many football players in his position, the ones who end up in the Division III ranks, they have heard from bigger schools they lack the traits needed make it at the Division I level.

“The recruiting process was interesting for me,” Coon said. “I wanted to play in the Ivy League, but the schools I talked with told me I wasn’t tall enough or fast enough. I ended up visiting Washington and really liked it. I felt like it was a good fit for me and went in there being told I had a chance to make an impact right away.”

Two years into his career with the Bears, Coon is a difference-maker.

The sophomore linebacker is coming off his third game where he has recorded 12 or more tackles, an effort that helped Washington top Sewanee 34-6 and maintain a grip on a tie for first place in the SAA standings.

“I feel good about the way I’m playing,” said Coon, who leads the Bears in tackles (53). “Things were overwhelming as a freshman, but getting the chance to play really helped me this year. I think the offseason made a difference, too. I hit the weight room hard and had a good spring.”

Head coach Larry Kindbom, who enters the week on the cusp of his 200th win -- only 12 active coaches have won 200 games and just 78 have done it in the history of NCAA football -- said what impresses him the most about Coon is his leadership ability.

“His ability is tremendous, and he’s become a leader on our team,” Kindbom said. “I am pleased with the way he has taken ownership of the defense.”

Coon started off last year dealing with a little adversity. He broke his hand in the preseason and played the first six weeks of the year with a cast on it. He still managed to play in nine games and ring up 32 tackles.

“He made a splash last year,” Kindbom said. “I thought he played very well as a freshman and he’s doing even better this season. Jake has been a big part of our success.”

The Bears entered the year with a lot of youth on the defensive side of the ball. In fact, the top three tacklers on the team are sophomores. Linebacker Max Barnett has tallied 52 tackles and Ben Marcus has come through with 48.

It has taken time for the Bears to adapt defensively, with Kindbom pointing to the wild 41-34 overtime win over Carnegie Mellon in the season opener as a moment where his defense was...

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Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Florida. He has 14 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending 10 at The Courier in Findlay, Ohio. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for and wrote Around the Great Lakes for from 2012-14. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois.

2014 columnist: Justin Goldberg
2013 columnist: Andee Djuric
2012 columnist: Kyle Robarts
2008-11 columnist: Jason Bowen


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