Belpre’s Jesse Collins a force on the football field, baseball diamond
Sports: football, baseball, basketball (sophomore year)
2018 football honor: Third-team All-Ohio pick at running back. Helped the Golden Eagles finish 6-4, rushing 207 times for 1,689 yards and 21 touchdowns. He averaged 8.2 yards per carry.
College: West Liberty University
Major: exercise physiology/physical therapy
Family: James and Camille (father and mother)
Question: I have to believe football is your favorite sport?
Answer: (Laughs) It is, but I can see where some people might think it’s baseball.
Q: How long have you been playing football and baseball.
A: I started when I was about 6- or 7-years-old. My dad coached me up until junior high. In baseball, I didn’t play tee ball.
Q: In football, you didn’t start out as a running back, did you?
A: I was a tight end on offense, and didn’t run the ball until I was a senior?
Q: Were you kind of surprised to be moved to running back?
A: I was, because I’d been to all these camps as a tight end. But then Coach (Mike) DeVol said I was going to be an RB. And, then, I didn’t think I was going to get as many carries (207) as I did.
Q: You had a pretty amazing season, rushing for over 1,000 yards (1,689). I betcha the team was disappointed that it didn’t make the playoffs?
A: We were. But, you know, we would’ve made it in Division VII. But I think we were two kids over, and we were in Division VI. Still, there were a couple of games during the season that we probably should’ve won.
Q: After the season, you earned all-state status. That had to have been exciting?
A: That was my goal.
Q: Any football thrills you’d like to share?
A: I set the single-game rushing mark (348) against Wahama. But the game that gave me a lot of satisfaction was against Southern, a pretty good team. I think I had four touchdowns in that game, and we won it.
Q: You played on both sides of the football?
A: I did. I also played on special teams. I was a defensive end or linebacker. After playing against teams like Fort Frye, Trimble, and Waterford, I was dead tired.
Q: Next season, you’ll be playing at West Liberty University. Where will you be positioned?
A: You know, they asked me where I’d like to play, and I think I’m going to line up in the backfield as a halfback — and run the ball and catch passes. They have a spring game (April 20), and I’m going up there to watch that and meet some of my teammates.
Q: Do you have a favorite football team?
A: Well, I root for the Buckeyes, but I’m not a diehard fan of them.
In the NFL, my favorite team is the Dallas Cowboys. If you saw my bedroom, you’d realize that.
Q: Do you have a favorite Cowboy?
A; Tight end Jason Witten. That’s why I wear number 82. He’s so reliable.
Q: How about baseball? Do you have a favorite team?
A: (Laughs) My mom likes the Indians, but I’m a New York Yankees fan. I’m hoping to go to New York and see them play someday.
Q: Any baseball highlights you’d like to share?
A: Team-wise, we made it to the district finals one year but lost to Eastern.
Then, this past week (April 17), I hit a grand slam out of a minor league ballpark (Chillicothe VA Memorial Stadium). I’ve always wanted to hit one there. But we lost to Williamstown (13-12). I’ve been really hitting the ball good lately. I mean, I had homers in three straight games.
Q: How far did it go?
A: It went out at 350 feet, and they found the ball another 100 feet further away. Coach (Terry) Mullen said he’d never seen a high school kid hit one out of that park. And, I just winked at him.
I also hit the wall with a double, and had a single in that game.
Q: Who has been you inspiration as a student/athlete at Belpre?
A: My parents.
Q: What do you do off the playing fields?
A: I’ve been a Cub Scout since I was about 6 and a Boy Scout since 11 or 12. And, just recently, I became an Eagle Scout. That was pretty exciting.
Q: As a senior, is there anything you’d like to shout out?
A: Well, I’m really excited for Belpre. I think Coach DeVol is building something good, and I want to wish him and the team the very best of luck.
Ron Johnston, firstname.lastname@example.org