Pitt recently received a verbal commitment from 2019 Clearwater (FL) Clearwater Academy International wide receiver Jared Wayne (6-foot-3 inches, 195 pounds). Wayne, originally a native of Ontario, Canada moved to the Florida in the offseason to increase his exposure to recruiters. Prior to leaving for the Sunshine State, he had developed quite a reputation as a football player in Canada, with Canada Football Chat listing Wayne as the 5th best prep prospect in the country. The Canadafootballchat.com (CFC) scouting bureau is comprised of CFC scouts, selected private scouts, selected college coaches and other professional contributors.
To gain better perspective on Wayne, Pittsburgh Sports Now reached out to Trinity College School Head Football Coach Dan Gazarek. Trinity College School is located in Port Hope, ON. Coach Gazarek had the opportunity to coach Wayne for a three year period. He is the Director of KF Sports (Kingdom Force Football) and has been involved with competitive football for over 20 years.
“Jared is the finest athlete that I have ever coached. He plays quarterback for us simply because he is just a physical specimen. I think he’s 6-foot-3 inches and somewhere between 190 to 195 pounds. He can jump out the gym and he’s a leader,” said Gazarek. “We have, I think, an eight game season, and I forget his numbers but he was responsible for something like 80% of the offense, he was our leading rusher, threw for a couple thousand yards, 20 touchdowns, and he also led the team at interceptions at free safety.”
“He’s able to do anything and everything on the field. I know that there’s always a lot of questions about the quality of competition in Canada, but the private school league that we play in is probably the toughest and most competitive league in the province. Which is equivalent to the top league in any given state, and he is just absolutely dominant in that league.”
Wayne chose Pitt over scholarship offers from South Florida, Bowling Green and Old Dominion. He will be the second player to join the Panthers from Clearwater International Academy joining 2018 defensive end recruit Habakkuk Baldonado. Watching Wayne’s highlight reels, his ability to ‘high point’ a ball is uncanny. He’s a player with exceptional leaping ability and body control. Coach Gazarek was able to expound on his catching ability. “I always make the comment that 50/50 balls are usually like 90/10 or 95/5. His ball skills and just how strong his hands are to get to the highest point, his body control, he simply does some pretty incredible things,” he said. “I worked with him for three, four years, there’s things that seem amazing but I kind of got desensitized to them because we’re just used to him doing those things every game.”
Coach Gazarek was asked about Jared’s demeanor off the field. He stated, “He’s just got this determination and competitive fire in him. He is a super quiet leader. Which, for me, was challenging, because he’s the quarterback and he is just, you know, it seems like he’s not showing any emotion, but that’s just his way because he’s so focused all the time. He’s not a very vocal leader, he leads through action. Jared’s not going to necessarily rally the guys or bring a big cheer. The way he carries himself is how he leads. I will say this, when he does speak up everybody listens.”
“Jared is a fantastic young man. He is, in terms of his character, how he carries himself, how he treats others, his respect for his opponents and officials. In the classroom, he’s an honor roll student. He is just polite, he’s mature…and that’s the thing that was kind of frustrating for me as a coach over the past couple of years, because I know what he’s capable of and I’m trying to explain to different coaches and programs that this is the guy that, there are no red flags, you can’t find a better young man than a Jared Wayne. I can’t say enough about him in that sense.”
Wayne won’t be the first in his family to make waves on the football field. His father played nine years in the Canadian Football League for the Ottawa Redblacks and his uncle played for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Jared Wayne has verbally committed to Pitt and the Panthers continue to pursue 2019 Burlington (Ontario) Clarkson Football North Academy offensive tackle Liam Dick (6-foot-7 inches, 300 pounds). Pittsburgh is a relatively short flight from Canada. Even new Pitt head basketball coach Jeff Capel stated he will actively pursue Canadian talent. Coach Gazarek was asked if a pipeline from Canada to Pitt was possible.
“I think that football is kind of changing, especially though my experience with 7 on 7 club teams. I realize that the more time I spent down visiting schools and going to coaching clinics. There’s so much that is done for football development and student athlete development in the infrastructure in the United States, that hasn’t been picked up at the same pace in Canada,” he said. “On the other hand, we’re realizing that there’s no real exchange rate on how to teach man coverage, or to run a four yard dash, or get good grades in school, those things can be done. I think that having Pitt being that drivable area from Quebec, Ottawa, Montreal, and some of the larger cities where football is prevalent in Canada, is a huge opportunity. Because, like you said, it’s still close enough to drive and get down to a camp in six hours or a one hour flight.”
Harry Psaros can be found on Twitter at @PittGuru